The challenge of empowering destitute people towards SHALOM is immense, and far too great a task to be accomplished by any one person or organization. “Creating a continuum of empowering care” for destitute people will undoubtedly call for continued and combined efforts by many role-players. However, as people who love God and feel the urgency of the call to be involved in His mission, we have no choice but to go where He leads, and to journey there as effectively as possible. Even though the task of empowering destitute people may seem overwhelming, may there never be any doubt that we are called to “…preach good news to the poor, …proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (and) to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Luke 4:18-19, Amplified).
1 The Institute of Urban Ministry is an organization centred in Pretoria, South Africa. This Institute offers a community of hope, support and learning for the urban church, by providing structured academic courses. IUM focuses on:
2 1901 American Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994
3 1901 American Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
4 U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (1976). The Measure of Poverty : A Report to Congress as Mandated by the Education Amendments of 1974. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (p. 2).
5 The Black Death, or the Black Plague, was one of the deadliest pandemicsin human history, widely thought to have been caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis (Bubonic plague), but recently sometimes attributed to other diseases. It most likely began in Central Asia and spread to Europe during the 1340s. The total number of deaths worldwide from the pandemic is estimated at 75 million people; approximately 25-50 million occurred in Europe. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population. It may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400.
6 Mathews, Shanaaz, Abrahams, Naeemah, Martin, Lorna J., Vetten, Lisa, van der Merwe, Lize and Jewkes, Rachel. (2004). Every Six Hours a Woman is Killed by her Intimate Partner.: A National Study of FemaleHomicide in South Africa. MRC Policy brief no. 5, June 2004.
8 Anup Shah. 2003. Poverty Facts and Stats. http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Facts.asp
Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.
The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.
20% of the population in the developed nations consume 86% of the world’s goods.
The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82% of the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment — the bottom fifth, barely more than 1%.
In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much.
An analysis of long-term trends shows that the distance between the richest and poorest countries was about:
3 to 1 in 1820
11 to 1 in 1913
35 to 1 in 1950
44 to 1 in 1973
72 to 1 in 1992.
“The lives of 1.7 million children will be needlessly lost this year  because world governments have failed to reduce poverty levels”
The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants.
A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.
“The 48 poorest countries account for less than 0.4 per cent of global exports.”
“Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific.”
According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
That is, about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year.
For economic growth and almost all of the other indicators, the last 20 years [of the current form of globalization, from 1980 - 2000] have shown a very clear decline in progress as compared with the previous two decades [1960 - 1980]. For each indicator, countries were divided into five roughly equal groups, according to what level the countries had achieved by the start of the period (1960 or 1980). Among the findings:
Growth: The fall in economic growth rates was most pronounced and across the board for all groups or countries.
Life Expectancy: Progress in life expectancy was also reduced for 4 out of the 5 groups of countries, with the exception of the highest group (life expectancy 69-76 years).
Infant and Child Mortality: Progress in reducing infant mortality was also considerably slower during the period of globalization (1980-1998) than over the previous two decades.
Education and literacy: Progress in education also slowed during the period of globalization.
The world’s 497 billionaires in 2001 registered a combined wealth of $1.54 trillion, well over the combined gross national products of all the nations of sub-Saharan Africa ($929.3 billion) or those of the oil-rich regions of the Middle East and North Africa ($1.34 trillion). This is also greater than the combined incomes of the poorest half of humanity.
9 Signatories to the SA War on Poverty Declaration:
President Mandela and the South African Cabinet, the South African Council of Churches, the South African NGO Coalition, the Homeless People's Federation, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Department of Welfare, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the National Council of Trade Unions, and the South African Grantmaker's Association.
10 Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Mozambican refugees in South Africa, Pretoria: SACBC Masungulo Project, 1993.
11 The development of the theology of missions as a whole has been extensively researched by Bosch, in his work Transforming Mission.
12 Not all of the emerging themes identified by Bosch are addressed here; only those that impact directly on missions with the destitute. Bosch specifically identifies the following such themes for missions today:
Mission as witness to people of other living faiths
Mission as theology
Mission as action in hope
13 The Gleaner principle includes:
After a grain field was harvested, anyone could collect the leftovers: the gleanings. Farmers were to harvest only the easily harvested sheaves. The corners were to be left unharvested by the farmer, and anything dropped was to be left on the ground (Leviticus 19:9; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19).
A farmer could make only one pass through a vineyard or olive orchard. Any fruit not yet ripe was to be left for the poor (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 24:20-22).
Before the harvest, anyone could walk into a vineyard and pluck grapes for eating on the spot. Bringing in a basket was not allowed, however (Deuteronomy 23:24).
Prior to the harvest, anyone could walk into a grain field and pluck ears by hand. Using a sickle or other tool was not allowed (Deuteronomy 23:25).
On Sabbath years (every seventh year), the land was to be left fallow. Volunteer growth was for the benefit of gleaners: no ploughing, planting or harvesting was allowed in those years (Exodus 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-12).
14 Proverbs 19:17 – “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him.”
Psalm 41: 1-4 (Amplified) – “Blessed, happy, fortunate is he who considers the weak and the poor; the Lord will deliver him in the time of evil and trouble. The Lord will protect him, and keep him alive; he shall be called blessed in the land; and You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will sustain, refresh and strengthen him on his bed of languishing; at his bed You, O Lord, will turn, change and transform in his illness.”
Gal 6: 9-10 – “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. So then, as occasion and opportunity open to us, let us do good to all people…”
15 These six constants are:
16 Sears also identifies the characteristics of “inwardly strong churches”: