Can we stop poverty?

In a recent conversation with friends we were discussing the recent news from Syria and how terrible it must be to flee for one’s life. One person added a surprisingly common response: They said: Oh, this is just the beginning, everything has to get a lot worse still and then Jesus will return. By the way – they said that with a smile, no doubt focusing on that glorious day!

Perhaps they were meditating on the verses from Matthew 24:6-8, or Mark 13:7, or the outcome of the Seals being opened in Revelation 6. Similarly, many may read the story in Matthew 26:6-11, where a woman (most likely a prostitute) enters into the home of Simon the Leper (where Jesus was) and breaks a jar of alabaster perfume over Jesus’ head. The disciples were not pleased, seeing the “wasted” financial benefit that could have rather been used for the poor. Jesus’ reply - The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me - has been used to justify that the presence of the poor is a sign that the end times are near so best not interfere and delay his return!

If this is the case, why should we engage with the Sustainable Development Goals, or with peace and reconciliation responses, or with humanitarian aid? Why should we try and protect our world from climate change, encourage the safety of threatened species and explore renewable energy options?

Let us think this through again.

The whole Bible is entwined with evidence of God’s heart for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised. Again, the Bible is full of references to God’s anger and displeasure against greed and idolatry. Jesus came to redeem, restore and to give life in all its fullness. The evidence of his life demonstrated this in every encounter. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, advocated for justice. He broke down the social hierarchical (ethnic, gender, status, age) exclusion by engaging with lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, Romans, Samaritans, women, privileged and poor unlike - Galatians 3:28). In the story in Matthew 26 he is in the home of a leper and a woman (possibly a prostitute) is there anointing him.

Looking with this contextual and integral mission lens at the verse that the poor will always be present, we see a new meaning. Wherever we are, as we live out our lives as Jesus would, with indiscriminate love, the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised will be attracted to us as they were to Jesus. Not only this, we will always be amongst them as Jesus calls us to love and serve those in need (Matthew 25:31-46 clarifies this with story of the goats and the sheep. See also Deuteronomy 15:10-11) 

Poor excuse
Too many of us over the years have used the verses about the poor, about wars and natural disasters, and the like, to justify our lack of response. We have built expensive buildings, spent thousands on ourselves saying this is our “alabaster offering”, arguing that 'as the poor will always be there' it is better to worship God with extravagance. We have defended this with the spiritual assertion that saving souls is more important that caring for the poor, preferring to offer a Gospel that is only relevant when we are dead. It is time to change.

Lord, as we follow you we recognise that the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, the refugee and the outcast will always with us simply because they are attracted to the Good News that in Christ all are equal, all are loved and made whole. Like you, we need to be amongst those in need to reflect that love extravagantly.

Lord, you who calmed the storms with a word, you raised the dead and set the captive free. We dare to believe that in you we are called to a ministry of reconciliation, of healing and discipling of nations. Believing this means we do not give up on hearing the terrible news of war, hurricanes, earthquakes, famine. Instead, we rise up together to be present amongst those who suffer because of these, knowing that where the need is greatest, there you call us to be.

Here we are Lord, send us together in Christ.

International Day of Poverty

The theme of the annual day (17th October) to focus on the eradication of poverty is: Moving from humiliation and exclusion to partcipation: ending poverty in all its forms.

Micah invites all our members and their churches to take time to pray and engage in creative ways to play our part in tackling poverty.

See our Micah Sunday resource page for ideas for your church, home group and staff meetings.

Lord, as we collectively turn our hearts and minds towards the poor this month, and especially on this day, we ask your guidance and conviction to spur us on to serve with love and mercy.

Lord, for those who are struggling to feed their family we ask that you will take our fish and bread and multiply.

Colombia - Peace Deal

We celebrated on the 27th September the joy of a peace deal signed by the Government of Colombia and FARC, after 52 years of civil war. All this was suddenly put on hold when the results of the referendum held on the 3rd of October to endorse the deal was lost by a fraction of a percent.

Lord - we cry out to you to intervenve and bring in the peace we thought, we hoped, was agreed.

Hurricane Matthew

Haiti was in its path. A Category 4 hurricane with wind up to 145mph striking this vulnerbale country, with the poor, disabled and elderly at greatest risk.

Lord, we cry out to you to calm this storm and rescue those affected. Lord we pray that the local authorites, the church and the international community will respond with speed, with efficiency and with love. 


Lord, please - no more.

Space for Grace

This is a network of people from all over the world who share a passionate interest in learning about Organisational Development with churches and Christian organisations. The faciliating partners of the Space for Grace Group are DMCDD, Digni, SMC, CORAT. The aims of this group are:

1) Inspire individual members to integrate their faith identity into their organisational work.
2) Share knowledge and learning to improve leadership and organisational change practices in churches and Christian organisations.
3) Facilitate relationships between members for collaboration and mutual support.

Here is a recent post (2nd October) written by Stanley Arumugam entiled Feeling the Heat.

As part of our leadership Programme in Arusha, we invited a group of traditional dancers and drummers to entertain us in the evening. Before their performance, they lit a fire and set the drums around it. I was curious about what they were doing. One of the drummers said, "We make the fire to heat the skin of the drum to get good sound".

Leadership work is a performance and we are like the drums. If we are hard and unprepared we may break when the beating starts. To prepare us - we go through the fire process. We are warmed up, stretched out and made ready for our beating. As the Bible says, we go through the Refiner’s fire.

That night we enjoyed a great performance of drumming and dancing. The prepared drums proved fit for purpose. But not everyone attending the performance witnessed the heating and stretching earlier that evening. Our secret preparation is revealed in our public performance.

Lord, help us to take the time to "warm up" before you each day, so that our leadership is done in Christ, with his wisdom and discernment guiding us.

Take time to prayer for your leadership team.

Prayer Points

21-22 October: Habitat 3 Conference in Ecuador

19 November: StopArmut / Micah Swizerland National Conference on Refugees

24-27 November: Integral Mission Conversation in Russia

28 Nov - 3 Dec: Integral Mission Conversations around Cameroon

1-2 December: Integral Mission Conversation in Bangladesh

Thank you Lord for these opportunities to meet, to reflect together and to discern the way ahead. Come Holy Spirit and lead us.

For more information see here.