Category Archives: poverty

Poor Church, Right Place

This is another guest post from a skonkworker, a friend of mine:

It’s estimated Jesus walked up to 20 miles a day to spread the Gospel. He travelled light. He wasn’t looking for earthly possessions.

Jesus was looking for a relationships. Jesus was looking for people. As a church we intend to follow the example of Jesus, sowing the kingdom of God, seed by seed among the people we interact with.

Money seems to bring with it a desire to expand personal space.

The more money the bigger your property. The wealthy generally have more land and property than poor people, and this isolates them from their fellow humans. The houses of the poor and the rich aptly illustrate this:

Property

The same principles seem to apply with the growth of a church. A church that exists primarily in big groups meets in big properties. The risk is that a church with a large turnover, properties and meetings can become distanced from the people it’s trying to reach.

I would rather see twenty poor, small churches that live among the people than one large, impressive and self-sufficient church that serves itself and protects its assets.

Large gatherings are good. Organised voluntary sharing is good. But treat money like manure, of very little use except when it is spread around (Francis Bacon Sr). Let faith and action always rule.

Lets address the balance, not too focused on being a city on a hill that we forget to be scattered salt. Money must never distract or block our connection with people. The church must reposition itself where the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.

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Just Launched : Three Freetown Projects

I’ve just launched an online fundraising project for a couple of friends of mine, Joe and Simeon.

In November they’re off to Freetown, Sierra Leone for a couple of weeks to carry out three projects for local communities there. They’ll be working with friends of my church who work in the area.

This will include setting up a sewing school for the women of a refugee camp in an area called Grafton, many of whom have been displaced by war and some suffering from polio. Many of the women of this camp resort to prostitution to survive, so this sewing school will enable them to support themselves, an immensely positive thing.

The second project will be to provide teaching materials and equipment for a small school in Lungi.

And at the last project they’ll be setting up an enclosure and shelter for a small village farm to house 14 sheep and 14 goats, collecting runoff water from the roof in the rainy season.

Please take a minute or three to watch the short video above, take a look at the perks on offer for contributors on the Sierra Leone fundraising campaign page, then dig deep inside your bank account to support this brilliant project.

God bless.

God Make Me Weak, God Give Me Lunch – The Enemy of God pt5

God loves to stack the odds against Himself and His people.

God loves to put all His eggs in one basket, and He asks us to do the same with Him- throw everything recklessly in to His kingdom. Faith is impossible without trust Faith is trust.

Think of Gideon’s army- God whittled them down from 32,000 to 300. That’s, like, 0.9% of their original number. He deliberately and openly thwarted their natural strength because He wanted to be their strength.

Then think of the incarnation- Almighty Creator Eternal made visible, touchable. And how does he choose to arrive on the scene? As a weak, naked baby, born to a couple of nobodies who soon become asylum seekers.

And ultimately, let’s consider the cross- just some middle eastern carpenter hung on a tree, at the very turning point of history. Again naked, weak, bruised and torn with a heart turned to wax (See Psalm 22, the prophetic poem Christ invoked as he died).

God’s moment of greatest victory is His moment of greatest weakness.

Triumphalists and people looking for an easy, self serving God will put that statement the other way around- “God will change your weaknesses, He will make your life lovely again.” And of course, they’re right in part- Jesus heals the broken.

But lean closer, here’s where it gets interesting.

God doesn’t simply succeed or help us succeed despite our weakness, he succeeds through weakness.

Why? In part, because that’s truly poetic and beautiful, and in part because God winning with and for us through weakness and suffering allows Him to change us fundamentally inside through it in a way nothing else can.

And maybe it’s also because God loves a challenge, He loves to rescue us. I’m sure God sometimes engineers adversity to throw His church back to Himself. God wants a people who don’t trust their natural strength but who work to be strongly-weak and dependent on Him.

As God has all the resources of the universe at His disposal but needs our willingness; He can do less with our resources than our empty, open hands. In fact, it’s possible for us to edge God out with organisational efficiency; we no longer need Him because the machine rolls along happily. But the machine is dead. God is not in the machine but out on the water, where we’re too weak to walk out of the boat without His authority, given through His call.

And walk we will, because He’s calling, and because that’s the only way to follow Jesus.

Let’s get back to a place where we need God, where we’d actually go hungry, poor, stuffed without His help. I’m not joking. Then watch Him show up and provide for us, redeem us and immeasurably bless us because that’s what He’s been longing to do for years.

Now let’s make it practical.

If we don’t learn to trust God in small, everyday things, how will we manage to trust Him with bigger things when He leads us into the risky place He’s pulling us with benevolent delight? How about not taking lunch (or lunch money) to work for one day every week, and asking God to get you some lunch?

Of course, it’s best not to tell anyone you’re doing it, that would be untrusting!

Just trust God and see what happens 🙂

Not Poor Enough


When I am safe
I am the sleeping neighbour of need
So I am the one in need

When I am rich
I have everything to lose
Therefore I am poor

When I am poor
I have nothing to lose
So I am truly rich.

When I meet crisis
Crisis insists
I awake

When my crisis meets your crisis
May I be rich enough
To know my own need
To make you truly rich

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Jesus Christ

“I started out with nothin and I still got most of it left”
Seasick Steve 

Jesus Ran Away

He rose from dead, ascended high,
And then he ran away;
He’s gone to live with those who die,
With those who’ve lost their way.
He’s hid down streets, he’s hid in squats,
The red light’s chief locale,
He’s hid amongst the poor have-nots,
Refuse of Shopping Mall.
He smells of puke and stale beer,
Behind every broken door
He’s in the pub, he’s lost in care
Go touch him among the poor

And every day he’s begging us
“Come to my poor district;
My council soon will repossess;
My life’s in deficit.
I should be in hospital,
I’ve got a dirty gash.
I’m in the tip; I’m in the gaol;
I’m rooting through your trash.
I work all night and hide all day,
I’m a mum who’s been through hell.
I’ve lived life bruised; a rejected gay;
My people – make me well.”

Whate’r you do to the least of these,
Sons, daughters, loved by me
I take it done to me, the Lord
So set my children free.

 

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The Paradox of a Plentiful Poverty

“There are two ways to be rich: One is to have much, the other is to want little.”

We’re moving house. It wouldn’t be much of a deal as our new house is only 560 yards down the road, were it not for the fact that there’s 15 of us.

I live in a christian community, a brotherhood, a family of like-hearted friends. We worship and eat together, we go places together, and we annoy, forgive, and put up with each other, but essentially, we’re a family.

Home

Anyway, back to the quote

Jesus’ upside-down kingdom is full of paradoxes. One of these is how the relative poverty of the lifestyle we have chosen is married to the way we’ve been so richly blessed by God.

A few of us guys are taking our house move as an opportunity to declutter. We’ve challenged each other to be able to carry all our personal belongings to our new house on foot, in only one trip. We’re also allowing each other the ‘indulgence’ of one black bin liner over the shoulder! Needless to say, this is apart from the shared household stuff we’ll be taking with us (a sofa or two, a couple of hoovers, maybe the piano…).

Here’s the paradox

We’re incredibly honoured by how God’s blessed us with the new house, which is pretty large.
Jesus’ way was one of poverty. He didn’t even have a sofa, let alone a piano.
We leave all and travel light, and we end up gaining all, never in need.

Jesus described the paradox with this promise:

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”