I knew I would see poverty while in El Salvador and Honduras, but I learned something about the breadth of poverty. I was invited into one-room shacks with no running water, no electricity, and no toilet. I saw people who live with nothing and have no anticipation of their economic condition changing. I looked into the eyes of parents who can’t feed their own children yet love them as much as I love my sons. I knew I would encounter this kind of poverty and I was still deeply moved.
What I had not prepared for was the other kinds of poverty. There is a poverty of hope and spirit that comes when 50-60% of the people are unemployed and see no real sign of the situation changing. There is a poverty of encouragement that crushes little children who never hear their father or mother tell them they are beautiful, handsome, or have a future. There is a poverty of spiritual food in places where gangs rule, drugs are prevalent, armed guards stand at the doors of stores and hotels. In these places, demonic darkness hangs in the air so thick you can feel and taste it. There are many kinds of poverty and they all have one thing in common. The only hope to overcome any of them is Jesus.
I am more convinced than ever that this world needs Jesus Christ. When His people, the Church, mobilize in His power and Name, children will be fed, the gospel will be preached, the hopeless will see light, strongholds will fall, social structures will be transformed, and the presence of Jesus will be so radiant that the darkest of places will begin to shine.
This is not some silly and immature dream, but a reality that is already happening. I believe, in deeper ways than ever before, that the gospel, the person of Jesus, and His people being the church in the world is the one and only hope for true and lasting transformation.
I have seen three reminders of this reality in the past weeks. I hope you look at these ministries and learn from what God is doing.
Compassion International (http://www.compassion.com/ )
Community Transformation Honduras (http://cthonduras.wordpress.com/ )
Community Outreach at Shoreline Church (http://www.shorelinechurch.org/ministries/outreach/community-outreach/ )