After a long day’s work, you are probably ready for a hearty dinner, a refreshing drink and maybe even a hot shower. Perhaps you have a book propped open on your table to enjoy before you curl up on your comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep.
Since its formation 25 years ago, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty calls for global awareness of the unacceptably high number of people living in poverty—and for action to remedy the situation.
What is Poverty?
The World Bank sets the extreme poverty line at living on $1.90 per day or less. Poverty is a lack of money, but it is so much more than that. Poverty means children grow up malnourished; it means parents can’t give their children new clothes when they outgrow their old ones; poverty means illiteracy will likely pass from one generation to the next, as children work in fields instead of studying in classrooms.
In an interview originally published in The Christian Century, Ana Revenga, the Deputy Chief Economist for The World Bank Group, explains how the needs of those living in extreme poverty go beyond what can be described in simple monetary terms like $1.90 per day.
“We can monetize a lot of the aspects of poverty,” she states, “but there is a legitimate debate about the multidimensional aspects of poverty. When you talk to the poor, they will talk about a sense of dignity and about having a job, not just receiving money. How do you monetize that?”
Poverty can sometimes cause “poverty of spirit,” as discouragement, shame and crushed hopes wear down the hearts of parents who are trying everything they can to earn enough for their families.
Gifts that Change Everything
We at Gospel for Asia see firsthand the poverty and struggle experienced by families in the nations we serve, and we’re committed to empowering these families to improve their circumstances.
Every year, we launch a ministry-wide campaign through our Christmas Gift Catalog to help provide income-generating gifts for families in need. Since beginning this Christmas gift campaign, we’ve seen thousands of times how simple, inexpensive gifts like rickshaws, sewing machines and goats radically transform the life of a family.
In 2016 alone, 600,989 families in Asia received life-changing gifts like the ones found in our gift catalog. Many of those gifts are income-generating and will continue to perpetuate hope and new opportunities for families, as one gift did for Prabhal’s family.
Hardworking Father Struggles to Provide
Prabhal strove to care for the family God entrusted to him, yet even with the hours of hard work he put in every day, he barely earned enough money to feed his wife and two children. He owned no land, so he toiled in others’ fields, earning just enough to buy rice and vegetables. The meager meal, split between four people, hardly satisfied the hearty appetite Prabhal developed after laboring in the sun all day, but there was nothing else he could do. As hard as he tried, his family’s situation didn’t improve. The high cost of living swallowed up everything Prabhal earned and locked his family into a pattern of living from hand to mouth.The lack of income affected more than their mealtimes—clothing was hard to come by, too. Purchasing inexpensive clothes just once a year for his wife, son and daughter was problematic. Even worse, Prabhal’s son had to drop out of school, caught in the same cycle of poverty that grips millions of people in Asia. Without receiving an education, obtaining a well-paying job is unlikely, so financial struggles continue from generation to generation.
Extending a Helping Hand
Prabhal and his family are part of a congregation led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Nand. Pastor Nand observed the poverty Prabhal’s family endured, and his heart went out to them. His opportunity to help the needy family came through the generosity of believers who had never even met Prabhal.
Some gifts like those in GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog were directed toward Pastor Nand’s area. While helping organize the distribution, Pastor Nand suggested Prabhal be selected as one of the recipients.
His Rickshaw: An Unassuming Treasure
Overjoyed and filled with gratitude, Prabhal received a new rickshaw at the gift distribution. Rickshaws are a common mode of transportation in many Asian nations, and they provide a steady profit for those who own them. After years of financial difficulty, this simple gift brought new hope for Prabhal’s family!
He quickly redirected his diligence from his field labor jobs to driving his rickshaw. Soon, the income he earned was more than enough to provide for his family’s needs.
Although Prabhal’s son had dropped out of school because of poverty, this new source of income meant Prabhal’s daughter could receive an education. Even after meeting his family’s needs and sending his daughter to school, Prabhal was able to start setting aside savings—yet another thing that had been impossible for him to do before receiving the rickshaw.
“After getting the rickshaw, it is easier for me to earn money,” Prabhal shared. “Now I do not have to go in search of labor work. Moreover, I can easily maintain my family, and we do not worry about what to eat in the morning and in the evening.”
Prabhal’s bicycle rickshaw will probably never be called “sporty.” There’s nothing exotic about it—no shiny chrome, no eye-catching leather interior. But this functional vehicle means the world to Prabhal because he no longer worries about how to feed his family.
“I am so blessed by this rickshaw,” Prabhal continued, “and thankful to the Lord for His blessings and to all the church leaders for thinking about my family.”
‘The Love of God Compels Us’
Now, Prabhal’s family lives above the poverty line, in stark contrast to their situation just a few years ago. Recognizing God’s provision in his life, Prabhal rejoices in the care his faithful Provider demonstrated toward his family.
That’s why we do what we do. We love God, and God loves the farmers, fishermen, daily wage laborers, housewives, child laborers and grandparents who are hungry, cold and wondering if anyone sees them. Through these gifts, we can meet their pressing needs and give them dignity, and in so doing, show them that people see their needs, and Someone cares.
That’s what this day is about.
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