The global conversation on poverty alleviation has taken some interesting turns over the past decade, with an increasing range of economists, government leaders, and even rock stars beginning to challenge the status quo of economic development and foreign aid.
Contrary to the longstanding model of top-down solution-seeking, we are seeing a new emphasis on the power of markets and the importance of bottom-up “searchers.” And yet, even as we begin to make productive steps toward improved quality of life and widespread economic progress, we must be careful that our efforts don’t simply replace the problems of poverty with those of prosperity – enabling vice and replacing old struggles with new temptations.
As Christians, this risk is particularly clear, and we are well aware of the solution to meet the need. As explained in the following excerpt from the PovertyCure series, the Gospel is the only solution that can truly set free the human spirit, and that includes redeeming the fruits of economic progress.
As Peter Greer, CEO of HOPE International, explains:
There has got to be more than just a change in a wallet for significant change to happen. And I think that is where certainly the church and the faith community has something materially different to offer than just another loan, just another job.
When you have the opportunity to touch hearts, to touch meaning, to touch purpose, to touch identity, alongside helping an individual get out of physical poverty, that’s where you see incredible transformation. When you see hearts that are changed and you see wallets that are changed, you really can see communities transformed.