Joseph's welfare plan helped people in need while preserving individual dignity and the economy. (Genesis 41)
God revealed to Joseph that Egypt would face seven years of bumper crops followed by seven years of famine. Joseph's plan was for the government to buy grain at low prices and store it for the hard years that were sure to follow.
When the famine came, Joseph sold the food that had been stored by Egypt. It was not a give away plan. The people weren't destitute and had something to offer in exchange. Furthermore, Joseph preserved the value of the grain by selling it. He believed that free things have no value to the person receiving it.
Many poverty relief efforts magnify the superiority of folks with abundant resources and create a sense of helplessness among the poor. People will not take charge of their own lives when they know that, if they wait long enough, we will take charge. The poor have been trained to see themselves as consumers not producers. If your church is known as a place to go to for free food, it might have difficulty convincing people that they need to start working to earn their daily bread.
Poverty can be the result of personal sin, unjust systems or a calamity. Looking past the economic realities, our aim is to help people become fully devoted followers of Christ.
We need to affirm people's dignity and contributes to the process of overcoming their poverty of being. Although it is easier to provide food, clothes, shelter, and money, this is not sustainable and increases the feeling of helplessness and inferiority.
People and communities are full of God-given possibilities. We need to identify resources within the community and mobilize the people to free themselves from root causes of their poverty. Then, we can truly help people without short-circuiting the economy or creating dependency.