Friday, December 3, 2010

Poverty: No Cameras Please

This past Sunday, I (Kyle) had the opportunity to sit with an elder in the church we are attending – a church planted by Liberians in an area of Ganta that they felt needed to have a place to hear the Word of God.  This particular man has several children who are now in the USA studying at different universities across the country.  We talked about many things – he had many questions about life in the USA.  I told him about our home in North Carolina.  I told him of the great food (it was past lunch time) and the different landscapes that he might see there.  I also told him of how difficult life can be when children leave home and never come back, families that rarely see each other, or when you live next to your neighbors for years and never know them.  He was shocked – this is a foreign concept in Liberia. Jessica and I have been having an ongoing discussion since we arrived in Liberia about how to share with our friends, family, and supporters about our life here.  We want to be as real as we can in our words and the photos we post – however we have found ourselves “vexed” (a new favorite Liberian word) as of late.

As part of our preparations to come to Africa we took several training courses from EQUIP – one in particular made a deep impact on us and is challenging us as we work day to day with rural communities in Liberia.  We as westerners tend to think of poverty as a lack of material things – food, water, shelter, income. etc.  We feel compelled, perhaps out of our own human needs or perhaps out of a movement of The Holy Spirit – a fruit of Christ’s working in your life to take up the cause of poverty alleviation.  This is a good thing – However, the truth of the matter is that the western world is deeply impoverished itself.  It is not a material poverty we necessarily face in the U.S.A. (though it is alive and well) but we struggle with a deep seated spiritual, emotional, and relational poverty that we tend to medicate or “self-educate” away though one of our many programs, activities, or philosophies.

I say all of that to say this: we will not be sharing photos of many of the places we go.  Don’t worry the blog won’t be photo-less. It just won’t have a lot of pictures of the physical poverty that we see around us each day. Trust us- it’s here and we have nothing to hide – but we do not want to aid in the lie that poverty exists only in photos of developing countries.  When you see such images – search your heart for why it moves you.  Do you see the poverty in your family? on your street? In your office?  In your church?  You don't have to go downtown to find it – its sitting in your chest – as it is in mine. Please pray that you and I will see poverty for what it is – our own sin and alleviate it wherever we may be.  Not for our sake – but for Christ’s Glory.

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~Kyle and Jessica Hoover

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