Ok. First, thanks everyone for reading and taking this journey with me, whether it is through frequenting my blog, encouraging emails and comments, or dialogue with me about my blog and even about the issue of extreme poverty.
Second, a word to the “skeptics”: I don’t wish to be rude in using the word “skeptic”, but I just want to say that, yes, I do understand that I live in the United States and that seven dollars here and seven dollars somewhere else in the world are not worth the same thing. Of course I’m aware of that. I’m calling this part of my project the closest thing to experiencing what many of my brothers and sisters all over the world experience that I’ve been able to be a part of. Sure, I go to Mexico to live every summer and translate for the mission teams, who work among the poor, but there’s still plenty of food to go around for the team, their translators, and the local church members and their friends.
Well, I didn’t make it on seven dollars a week. The first week I did, and part of the second week. But, my grocery budget is still cut to less than half, so I can still make generous contributions to the poverty fight. Even though I’ve added a couple of dollars to my weekly budget, I still feel as though I’ve connected with the poor this month, to this point. While the value of “a dollar a day” is different here than “there”, and “they” also pay their bills with that amount, I still felt deprived when I was doing my $7 a week challenge. I can only imagine what it must be like to face that reality every day, without the option of ending that lifestyle at my fingertips.
The title of this blog post is etymology, because I want to lay out a few terms for your consideration.
When I say extreme poverty, I’m referring to the group of people that World Bank (www.worldbank.org) defines as anyone living on less than $1.25 per day. The government of Chile defines the poor as anyone who cannot afford to buy twice cost of the “canasta basica”, or, basic basket and the extreme poor as one who cannot afford the basic basket at all. I’m going to call it fair to say that the term “extreme poverty” encompasses those who are unable to meet their most basic needs: food, shelter and water.
Earlier this week, I was thinking about what it is that angers me the most about extreme poverty, and here it is. It’s preventable. I understand we live in a fallen world, and I’m happy to do theological debate with readers outside this blog, but I think the main reason we have a poverty problem to begin with is because when sin entered the world, greed, by its very nature, came out on top. It is pervasive and drives bad decisions of influential people all over the world. The word “greed” comes from the word “pleonektes”, which means to have more. The word “pleonexia” is defined as the greedy desire to have more. I can’t honestly say that there are not times when I want more. But this project has helped me to put a lot of things into perspective. I’m becoming more and more content with what I have, and I feel more generous every week.
In my papers for school, I always end research papers and word studies with a “Practical Application for Ministry” section. I’ll close this post in a similar way, with some words from my friend Matt, of Kosmos Ministries.
KOSMOS Ministries recognizes this is a broken world. Too many people are poor, distressed, underprivileged, hungry, homeless and marginalized by society. We see them, and it compels us to service. We seek to serve the last, the least, and the lost. We do this with our “two foods” approach. Through partnerships with indigenous churches, we assist in reaching the poorest of the poor to provide the literal food we all need, as well spiritual food (the good news about Christ). Each year, we lead teams of short term missionaries to Nicaragua to assist with our food distribution through the local churches. Right now, we are distributing about 4,000 pounds of food per year (200 families). Our goal is to distribute that amount monthly. We will serve, however, in whatever capacity God allows us to.
We are currently accepting applications for our June mission trip to Nicaragua, which will be June 6 through June 13. This trip, we will not be distributing food but building classrooms for children at a local impoverished church. Please see http://www.kosmsoministries.com for more info!
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” – Luke 15:21 NIV