Transcript of "The Lie of Poverty" video
We’ve been lied to. Me, you, our children, the children of the world. It’s the lie of poverty. The lie of what poverty really is. Because poverty is deeper than a lack of food. Deeper than a lack of clothes. Deeper than a lack of shelter. Poverty is a lack of hope. And without hope, millions of children around the world are defenseless against the unrelenting voice of the enemy and his most powerful lie.
Life holds nothing for me.
I don’t count.
No one can help me.
I am garbage.
I don’t matter.
To destroy the lies of poverty, we must leave the enemy nothing to cling to and that means nurturing every single aspect of a child. And that’s the mission of Compassion.
For a child to truly escape poverty, she needs much more than a hot meal and a Bible verse. She needs to be developed physically, socially, economically and spiritually. It’s a huge task, but it can be done, and in Compassion projects around the world, it is being done. The lie of poverty has been destroyed.
John Angeles is a university medical student. I recently joined him on the long ride from Lima to Chimbote, Peru, the town where John grew up. When we arrived, John was greeted with a hero’s welcome. That’s because it was at this Compassion project that John himself was a sponsored child.
“Poverty, to be truthful, is not only the lack of money at home, poverty encompasses so much more.”
An empty stomach has no ears. That’s why Compassion starts with the necessities like supplemental food and clothing. Likewise, a child’s physical environment must be a safe place – safe to play, to explore, to learn – a place where he can simply be a child.
“If your friend was standing close by, what did you do?”
Brushing teeth and washing hands. It’s a simple act with enormous health benefits. But it must be taught. Compassion teaches children how to be healthy and how to keep from getting sick. A simple inoculation would save the lives of millions of children every year, but poverty has no such health plan. That’s why Compassion provides its children with immunizations against preventable diseases like measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tuberculosis, as well as others.
And with a healthy body comes a healthy mind – one that is eager to learn. To read and to write. To create. To dream.
“I dream a lot about my future. In fact, the Lord taught me how to dream. All the great things that God did with my life have allowed me to have big dreams in my heart.”
Through Compassion, children are given the education they need to dream and to succeed. This may occur in the classrooms at the Compassion project, or through financial assistance to help cover school fees, uniforms and supplies. And with an education, the lies of poverty begin to unravel. But even academic skills are not enough to break the cycle of poverty on their own.
“In Peru, since both parents have to work just to survive, the children are normally left alone at home. At the Compassion projects, the children are no longer alone. They are with other children. And they learn values. They share their happiness and their sorrows. And the teachers at Compassion help them to get ahead.”
If a child doesn’t know how to escape poverty, well, how will he? He can’t learn it from his parents because if they knew how, they would have already. It’s a vicious cycle that financial assistance alone cannot break. Escaping poverty requires economic self-sufficiency. That means providing older children with vocational training like carpentry, car mechanics and silk screening, skills that not only help them to find jobs, but allow them to start small businesses and create their own jobs. Students even learn hydroponics so they can grow their own food. Compassion teaches children how to succeed by teaching them how to help themselves.
We’ve talked about meeting the needs of a child physically and socially and economically, but at Compassion we never forget the child’s spiritual needs. We always give every child the opportunity to see herself as a child loved by Jesus Christ.
“When I first arrived at the Compassion project, they began teaching me Christian values, the Bible, and everything related to the teachings of Jesus. I became so immersed, that when I was eight years old, I committed myself to Christ.”
We can love because God first loved us. And when we show children love, we develop in them a sense of value for themselves and for each other. And while financial resources are important, they don’t pierce the heart of a child like being connected with someone who cares about them. By connecting one sponsor with one child, we create a relationship that mirrors God’s relationship with each one of us - a relationship that can impact the life of a child in unimaginable ways.
“My sponsor would tell me in her letters ‘John, come on. Keep plugging away. You can do it. John, I’m praying for you.’”
“I wondered if my letters were boring or what he thought of my letters. Were they really encouraging him? But I just never grasped just how – how much of an impact it was having on him.”
“Thanks to her, I now have more opportunities like never before. Thanks to her, I was able to get ahead. And thanks to her prayers and her unconditional support, even without knowing me – without knowing who I was – she devoted herself to me and that is something I hold dearly in my heart.”
John started as a child in poverty. But through gifts of financial resources, prayers and love, that cycle has been broken. It will end with him.
“I believe that if Compassion had not come into my life when they did, I probably would have dropped out of school. I’d be one of those kids who hangs out in the streets and I would probably have children of my own without any way to take care of them. I can’t imagine what would have happened without Compassion.”
To beat poverty, we must give children the opposite of poverty. But the opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poor is not rich, it’s enough – enough to succeed physically, socially, economically and spiritually. Do you have enough? Or do you have more than enough? Have you ever wondered why? Perhaps you have more so that you might reach across to a child in poverty and bring him up to enough.
I am valued.
I have purpose.
I am loved.
I am loved by God.
Give a child hope and the life of poverty has nowhere to hide. That hope may not change the world, but it will change the world for one child.