Saturday, 10 November 2007

Working among the marginalized

Here are some more great titbits from the book Total Church (Timmis and Chester) on work amongst the poor and marginalized.

"He [Jesus] has come to call sinners and welcome them home. God is the God who eats with is enemies.' (p.69)

"Indeed part of our evangelism to the rich is our evangelism to the needy. We subvert their preoccupation with power and success as they see us loving the unlovely." (p.71)

"Many of the divisions within evangelicalism are as much about social class as theological differences." (p.74)

"So in any Christian ministry, including ministry among the poor, proclaiming and teaching the word of God must be central. And that is because the greatest need of the poor, as for us all, is to be reconciled to God and so escape his wrath." (p.75)

What is poverty?

"In part it is about having no money, but there is more to poverty than that. It is about being isolated, unsupported, uneducated and unwanted. Poor people want to be included and not just judged and 'rescued' at times of crisis..... [it is about] lack of resources, physical weakness, isolation, powerlessness and vulnerability....It is to be lacking social connections and community. The poor are, by definition, those who are powerless and marginal...... Our first instinct when faced with someone in need is to give something to them or do something for them. 'Rescuing' the poor, as Mrs Jones puts it, can be appropriate in times of crisis or important as a first step. But if it never moves beyond this, it reinforces the dependency and helplessness at the heart of poverty. The poor remain passive. It does not produce lasting or sustainable change. This is why a central theme of the literature on development is the importance of participation." (p.77)

"When we look at the church throughout the world, God is choosing the weak and lowly to shame the power and wealth of the West. It seems that God's response to the imperialism of global capitalism is to raise up a mighty church in the very places this new empire marginalizes and exploits." (p.81)

"They [the poor] do not want to participate in projects. They want to participate in community. A woman told me: "I know people do a lot to help me. But what I want is for someone to be my friend." People do not want to be projects. The poor need a welcome to replace their marginalization; they need inclusion to replace their exclusion; to replace their powerlessness they need a place where they matter. They need community. They need the Christian community. They need the church." (p.78)