Tuesday: Day 5
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”– Matthew 5
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”– Luke 6: 20
Yesterday our friend and board member, Emily Jones, led a workshop on the Myths and Facts of poverty and where our myths originate from. It was insightful as we discussed systems, perceptions, and reality. She shared a story from a book called “Nickeled and Dimed” which described the experiment of a single woman with no children, equipped with a car, in good health, and having a PhD who tried to make it on minimum wage. It could not be done. She worked extremely hard at full time jobs doing such tasks as waitressing but could not earn enough to pay for her expenses. It gave her the context to understand the frustration single parents and low income, intact families may face and how health issues and unreliable transportation exacerbates the feeling of not being able to get ahead. Part of the disparity is with families who do not have adequate housing but may not qualify for subsidized housing or may not want to live in government housing. Low wages and high rents are part of the combining factors for families not being able to make ends meet. Whereas most middle class Americans work to budget to not spend more than 30% of their income go towards housing (this includes utilities), most low income and poor families are spending over 50-60% of their income on rental housing. It is why stable and affordable housing is a major component in development-a principle Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity understood early on.
And as I am reminded each day, living in substandard housing is difficult. My shack is small. With us being in a little warmer weather, I am dealing with some bugs and a few spiders that have managed to survive. I am susceptible to the weather, hot or cold. I have people bringing me meals each day, but most of our families are not sure where their food is coming from, are eating prepackaged food which is high in sodium and chemicals because it is cheap. For an elderly person who can’t get around very well-this adds to the obesity and diabetic rate-it begins the cycle of obesity and diabetes in children as well. These issues are factors are all inter-related.
What I have been blessed with are the people who care. I love the visitors and the generosity. Families who are low income rely on their relationships and interdependence on one another. In fact, suicide levels are higher among middle class Caucasian men than any other demographic. Our pursuit of achievement and status in an independent culture sends people spiraling into hopelessness and depression when they lack emotional and relational capitol.
So, those are a few thoughts today. I hope that Thursday night is my last night out here. I hope that we get to the half way point in our fundraising efforts today. I am encouraged where we are and by God’s faithful and timely provision. Thank you for giving in what are uncertain times with the government shutdown and an economy still very vulnerable. May Christ’s Holy Spirit be with you today and may you know the love of our gracious and loving Father! OA Video link to see our story. Go to our front page www.arm-al.org and click on our donate now button to give and extend the love of Christ to families!
Grace and peace-lisa