Being God’s People in the Midst of the World – Dealing with Poverty

I recently read a very interesting article and critique of what I have been touting as a viable, long-term solution to the plight of poverty throughout the world.  The solution I had in mind was micro-finance – the concept behind Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank which provides small, entrepreneurial loans in impoverished communities with peer-reviewed acceptance and accountability programs.  This article was critiquing not the effectivness of such a strategy, but rather the long term effects such a strategy could have.  I think the writer brings up some good points to consider.  Here’s a quote:

While microfinance can play a role in development it is not a panacea for poverty, and the way it is practiced now can have serious unintended consequences that actually undermine development. If it is going to be successful it has to help people move away from borrowing and stop promoting collectivist notions and a zero sum mentality that only hinders development. Microfinance can be the first step on the ladder but macro-finance is needed too. For widespread and sustainable eradication of poverty, an attractive investment climate with secure property rights and rule of law are much more important in the long run.     

When I read critiques like this, it makes me feel that it is wrong to assume that there is a silver-bullet, one solution answer to this problem.  Such a complex problem requires a complex solution; and in essence, that is what the author was suggesting.  You can read the whole thing here.  But isn’t something better than nothing?  Maybe its well intentioned, but ultimately misguided – kind of like the One campaign (according to fellow blogger AB).  Still, does it mean we throw the short-term aide out for the sake of the long-term development?  I hate false dichotomies, so I lean in the direction of saying…do both!Why do I put this on my blog Intersection?  Because I believe that every area of life is one where life and faith converge, and that being a Christian – meaning, someone who trusts in God and lives in light of God’s kingdom breaking into our present reality (i.e. “on earth as it is in heaven”) – means that I am a co-conspirator in God’s restoration project.  That project is bringing the entire breadth of His world into a right relationship with Him – functioning as it was intended to.  Poverty is an effect of sin in the world, which is to simply say that it is not the way it’s supposed to be!I think and believe that these issues that the rest of the world faces (like poverty, like AIDS crisis, like Environmental conservatism, like child abduction and forced prostitution, etc…) are to be addressed aggressively and comprehensively by Christians, and if we’re not the ones taking the lead on such issues (instead of arm-chair quarterbacking it, or waiting on the government, or Bono, Brad, Angelina and George) then we’re really not doing our job.  Now I say that boldly out of conviction, but humbly, because I fail to live in light of it perfectly.  So, I’m open to suggestions of how to be a better thoughtful and willful believer.  You got any?


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