October 17th has been declared the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day was first recognized back in 1987 with the purpose of focusing the world’s attention on issues related to poverty.
In El Salvador, poverty is a root cause of many issues that face our friends. Things like human trafficking, homelessness, and the potential to be victimized by violent crime are all perpetuated by poverty. A child born into poverty has a higher chance of being victimized or exploited, and ultimately of ending up living a life on the streets or in unsafe conditions.
This is the case for millions of people around the world who struggle to get through each day, and have to work their hardest simply to survive. It is a tragedy that so many lack access to clean water, safe housing, education, and medical care.
But the fight against poverty goes beyond a fight to meet basic physical needs. This is crucial and much needed, but there is a bigger picture. That bigger picture includes the poverty of the soul.
The girl who has been rescued from sex trafficking has a poverty in her soul that I cannot even begin to understand. The man who has struggled against an addiction that has robbed him of his family and joy is poor in his spirit in ways that are unfathomable. The child that has seen his older brother violently killed simply because he lives in a poor neighborhood where the police don’t come has a heart that is destitute that I will never be able to fix.
Poverty attacks the body, and it attacks the soul. There is deep pain there that can’t be cured by fixing all of the material things. It only can be cured by the healing truth of the Gospel. We see a pattern when we look to Jesus’ life…body and soul, physical and spiritual healing. The two are connected.
I need that truth too because my own soul is desperately impoverished. I have a longing need to be filled with the good news of Jesus…hope, restoration, and the making of all things new.
My inadequacies rise to the surface when I come to those who are experiencing a full-body-and-soul fight against poverty. What can I offer? What can I say?
I can offer hope, and love, and a joy in the possibilities that come through a relationship with Jesus. I cannot take the poverty away, or make things magically better, and I know that. Approaching the eradication of poverty in a holistic, body and soul way, is a long and hard fight. We have learned that it takes time and an immense amount of effort to walk with someone out of poverty. There are no easy answers to the problems caused by poverty, no quick fix for the darkness that it causes.
But there is hope in that darkness, and I can share my own brokenness inside, and the poverty that exists in my own soul, and together we can look to the great Healer who feeds and clothes us all.
We thank all of you who partner with us in the fight to bring hope to our friends. We thank those of you who meet physical and spiritual needs in El Salvador and we ask that you continue to pray for those who are hurting.