Plain Talk About Poverty

Welcome to Bryan’s Blog! I hope you’ll join me here as I update you on what Jesus Was Homeless, Jobs for Life and our many outreach efforts are doing to bring jobs, meals and hope to people in Branson.

Let’s start with some plain talk about something we all dislike (and secretly dread): poverty.

When we hear that word, the first thing that comes to mind is material poverty. Having no money to pay for food, housing, a car or life’s other important things.

But financial need is also linked to other kinds of poverty, meaning there’s more to it than that. Such as relational poverty. And spiritual poverty. In fact, those two can conspire to create material poverty. We see it play out all the time at Jesus Was Homeless.

Consider relational poverty. Say someone moves to Branson to start a new life. But when they get here, their car’s transmission goes out. Because they have no relational capital (a network of friends and relatives nearby), they don’t have a way to get around town. Which means they now lose their job because they can’t travel to it. There’s nobody to help them get their car fixed. And since they no longer have a job, there’s no money to pay for repairs. When someone suffers from relational poverty, they’re more likely to struggle during the tough times. With nobody to walk alongside them, their daily life turns into a serious struggle.

People fall into material poverty for several reasons. Some of it is generational. If they grew up in poverty, they often don’t know any other way. Some of it is situational; maybe an explosion happened in their life – a medical crisis, loss of a job or spouse – and they wind up in a situation they can’t climb out of. Some of it also comes from substance abuse (alcohol or other drugs). Abusers often drive away their family and friends, so when they really need a support system it’s no longer available to them.

Regardless of the type or cause, we Americans have unintentionally perpetuated the problem. Back in the 1960s, Washington declared war on poverty. But that actually made things worse. The result is we now have more entitlements -and more people hooked on them- than ever before. We also have churches who have been replaced by Government assistance.

It’s not the government’s role to fix poverty or take care of the poor. That’s the Church’s role. We know you can’t love someone out of poverty. You can’t serve somebody out of poverty. You can’t educate someone out of poverty.

The way out of poverty comes from connecting people to employment.

But for that to happen, people in poverty need a helpful relationship first. And that’s where Jesus Was Homeless comes in with our successful Jobs for Life program.

Connecting with people is what we do best. We create relationships which allow us to walk alongside folks in need. We equip and train them to climb out of poverty.

And that approach is producing awesome results right here in Branson!

But no matter how much we do, the demand for services remains great.

That’s why we need your help. I invite you to become a volunteer. We need your family, your friends and neighbors, your fellow church members and your work colleagues, too. You don’t have to worry about how to do it – we’ll prepare you. All that’s required is for you to jump in and join us.

This is a great time to get involved. The school year is finished, people are taking summer vacations and often find themselves with extra hours on their hands. Yet the need also increases during warm months as thousands more jobless families stream into Branson. Your personal investment of just a few hours can put someone on the path out of poverty.

Click here to learn how easy it is for you and others at your church or in your neighborhood to get involved.

We know poverty will never completely go away. Jesus told us, “The poor you will always have with you …” (Mark 14:7). But we also know that by working together, we can dramatically lessen the extent of poverty right here where we live.

And all that’s needed to make that happen is for you to get involved.