#NoMoreShacks2014: What is Poverty?

Today is the first day of our annual Poverty Awareness Week. For the next week, our director, Lisa Pierce, will be living on public display in a “shack” near downtown Auburn, AL. Other friends and supporters of our ministry will join her in a “guest shack” at various times throughout the week. We’ll be hosting Poverty Awareness Workshops on campus at Auburn University on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at noon.

In addition, we’ll be posting videos and articles throughout the week in hopes of creating more discussion about the reality of poverty in America.

What’s the point? We’d like more people to know about the everyday struggles of the families whose homes we repair throughout the year. Homes that are either not safe, not warm, or not dry; in the worst cases, they’re neither safe, warm, or dry. But that’s not all. We’d also like to raise money so that we can continue extending the love of Christ through home repair and children’s ministry. Our goal is $50,000 – enough to repair homes for 20 families in rural Alabama. Will you join us? You can do so right now using the blue “Donate Now” button on the right side of this page.

As we begin this so-called Poverty Awareness Week, it only makes sense to pause for a moment to ask a very important question: what is poverty? Is poverty only a matter of income level? Are there different kinds of poverty or different dimensions to poverty? Is poverty all about the “stuff” you have? Is it also emotional, psychological, or spiritual? What does it have to do with our relationships and the structures of the society in which we live?

Whether we realize it or not, we all operate with a certain definition of poverty in mind. This definition, or rather, this vision of poverty shapes how we respond to “poor” people. That’s why its so important that we ask this question and take the time to think it through. If we’re going to respond to poverty in a way that “extends the love of Christ,” we need a definition of poverty that sees people the way God sees people.

So, what’s the answer? What is poverty? Here’s a video we like that gets us started down the right path to answering this question. It’s an interview with a Christian community development practitioner from Brazil named Claudio Oliver.

What do you think? Is Oliver right? Is poverty a “lack of friendships”? How does this definition change our understanding of who is “poor”? If we accept this definition of poverty, what would our response to “the poor” look like?

What’s your definition of poverty?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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