Thursday, March 07, 2013

Breaking the cycle of poverty

There is a story in Mark about a paralytic who was taken by four friends to see Jesus. The friends were not deterred by the man's inability to walk, they carried him. They were not deterred by the crowd of people who packed the house where Jesus was teaching. They knew that Jesus was the only way that their friend could be made whole. So, they carried their friend to the roof, dug a hole and lowered him to Jesus. As a result of the faithfulness of these four, the paralytic was received both physical and spiritual healing.

We need friends to guide us through tough times. They help us to find jobs, drive us to appointments, watch our children, and tell us when we have spinach in our teeth. Friends in high places help us to achieve greater levels of success.

A network of friends is often what keeps someone from falling into poverty. The Bible tells us, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity (Proverbs 17:17.)”

On the other hand, people without such friends fall into a cycle of poverty. They become dependent on government checks, fall victim to predatory lending, and lack the contacts and social skills to find employment. Churches and social agencies want to help but often perpetuate the cycle by enabling through handouts. Breaking the cycle of poverty requires more than canned food, used clothes and loose change.

A group called Open Table has developed a model where a group of 10-12 volunteers use their work and life experiences along with their personal networks to mentor an impoverished family for approximately one year. Working with the person a plan is developed to break out of the oppression of poverty.

Experienced trainers help to develop new Open Tables in other churches. The model has proven effective at moving people from poverty to wholeness on both a national level and here in San Antonio. Baptist Temple has been working on the issue of hunger and poverty for many years. Our current leadership has learned much during the past few years and we are ready to take the next step.

The commitment will require meeting an hour each week for 6-8 months. If you want to be a part of a team that makes a real difference in the life of a person in need, contact the church office.

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