There are not many things that make me angry – but poverty is definitely one of them. I have never begged for bread or asked a stranger for money for a night shelter so I find it so difficult to relate. I have been afforded opportunities to go to good schools and study at university and now I have a good job.
The first time I was told that millions of South Africans live on R10 a day I laughed. I thought it was a joke. I took out R10 and walked around Checkers to see what I could buy. With R10 in my hand, every price suddenly seemed so much bigger than the last time I saw it. R7 for a chocolate. R4 for a small roll of sweets. A bag of potatoes now seemed like a rich man’s meal. Everything became a luxury now that I held R10.
The Live Under the Line campaign wasn’t about guilt for me and nor should it be for anyone that takes up the challenge. It was about my eyes being opened. How could I relate to someone in poverty if I could not even see them? I do not need to spend a night on the street or quit my job to have my eyes opened to the plight of the poor – Jesus did not do drugs yet he can minister to an alcoholic.
This campaign is about affording us the opportunity to be impacted and begin taking small steps toward being an agent of change – not just closing our eyes to what is really happening around us.
I read this verse in Proverbs and it has profoundly shaken my response to the poor:
“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” - Proverbs 28:27
God has made it clear – we need to see the poor and take action. God is showing his beautiful rule that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Giving can start with a commitment of our time to allow God to challenge our hearts.
- Garrett is an elder at Common Ground Church who oversees the youth ministry (Frequency) and the Fuel Team (year of your life programme).