No struggle a person faces is completely isolated. Each struggle is caused by deeper problems, and it can be very difficult to break the cycle. As we work together to alleviate global poverty, we must do more than address one issue.
In Bihar, India, a state with millions living in extreme poverty, fresh water is hard to come by. Women and children spend hours every day walking miles to collect safe drinking water in order to survive. This means those women can’t work and the children can’t go to school, because they don’t have time. And the cycle of poverty continues.
Jesus’ Economy is dedicated to restoring Bihar, India through several programs. We have a program to drill water wells so the women and children can save time and energy every day, a program to plant churches that will meet the spiritual needs of the communities, and a program to empower women—teaching women marketable skills in tailoring and business so they can sustainably support themselves and their families. These programs work together to create long-term solutions for deep-seated struggles.
The poverty in Bihar is intense, and caused by many factors. If we simply provided the water wells and stepped away, the poverty would still exist. Safe water would be more accessible, but women would remain unemployed and families could still not afford to send their children to school.
If we simply planted churches, but didn’t address the physical needs of the people of Bihar, we would be denying the message of the gospel, and people would continue the cycle of physical poverty. James urges believers to put faith into action; to be doers and not only hearers:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27 ESV)
It is important that we meet the physical and spiritual needs of people in poverty. We can do these things, but we can take it even further by creating jobs to keep the cycle going. We don’t want to provide aid and then step away; we want to walk alongside our brothers and sisters around the world and teach them sustainable ways to provide for themselves.
This is a way we can show love to hurting people. This is the power of the gospel. We get to display the love of God in Bihar, India, and that’s pretty awesome.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18 ESV)