Poverty: Allendale, Bahamas, and the Gospel
|Stocking the Allendale food bank|
What would make a young lady earn money (by babysitting and selling jewelry) for the purpose of leaving one impoverished area and “vacationing” in another? That is exactly what Lydia Fastzkie did, coming to Allendale last month (this article was written by her mom, Shannan).
Poverty Is the Same, and Different
The culture of poverty in Eleuthera (Bahamas) is very similar to Allendale. There are the same Basic Problems (Poor Education, Teen Pregnancy, and Disconnected Dads) in both regions. But we have to be careful of how we perceive what poverty is and what it looks like.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty level for a family of five is about $26,000. (For the record, most of the children in the after school program where I work live in households where the household income is under $18,000.) That is a dad working full time, and a mom working 30 hours per week, each earning less than eight dollars an hour. How much do you earn?
Even at this level, what you probably picture as poverty may differ from what you would expect. In fact, this article from the Heritage Foundation explains that most of the supposedly 30 million Americans who are living in “poverty” have amenities such as air conditioning, a car, home entertainment (Xbox, cable, flat screen TVs), and a microwave oven. While not denying or minimizing poverty, this report says that the common misrepresentations can cause confusion and a non-ideal allocation of resources.
But be careful, as Shannan explains, about applying your middle-class mindset to the poverty-class. We may not understand why so many in this culture own an iPhone and an iPod, or buy a $1 bag of chips instead of saving for a meal. It is an issue of immediate gratification.
“Oh, but wait a minute…are we so different? What do you do with that extra $25 you saved because you went to the store with coupons in hand? Go to the movies or maybe eat out that night?”
Poverty Has an Answer: The Gospel
Shannan rightly says that poverty affects every one of us — for some, it’s only manifested in the physical realm, but we are all spiritually impoverished.
In his second blog post about Engaging Allendale, Wes Johnson shares some examples of how local pastors are working through battles that have been in this culture for decades. The answer for everyone — those who are following God, those who are opposing God’s people, and for those who are spiritually blind — is the Gospel.
“I believe that God is working in Allendale and I believe that the good news of Jesus will be the source of hope that changes this place! My prayer for Allendale is that the Gospel will not be drowned out or suffocated by culture, tradition, fear, or any other wall.”
Join us in praying for Allendale.