Everyone has a basic problem or need. For some people poverty is a financial reality, and for others it is a spiritual deficiency in spite of a fat bank account. Some people are impoverished in their relationships, while others are deficient in basic character and moral standing. You can easily think of examples where someone you know is lacking almost all of the above. There are many ways that individuals are “poor.”
How does a person overcome poverty?
The answer to this question is not complicated but requires a dedicated and disciplined response, as well as a long-term vision. A person must be able to accept a slow, steady course of change instead of a cheap, get-rich-quick, impulsive type of action.
Spiritual poverty is overcome by developing a rich relationship with Jesus Christ. A certain amount of diligence will bring steady improvement. Set aside one hour per day to read your Bible, worship, and meditate quietly. Over time there will be a measurable improvement. The temptations, discouragements, and sins that drag you down will lose their power.
Financial poverty is similar in many ways. The obstacles to overcoming poverty seem so big that most people give up before they try. Many times, all these people need is someone to walk alongside them and say, “You can do it!”
When people gain courage and begin to take small steps to improve their situation, God rewards their efforts. These same people simply discipline themselves in faith to save a bit of money week after week. They find ways to educate themselves about financial management. With eyes on a better future, they work to improve the small things they are doing.
The SALT program in Nigeria includes more than 3,500 clients who are progressing spiritually and financially. Many of them began the journey hardly able to believe that change was possible for them. Today they are working harder and dreaming of bigger things, like building a house for their family or expanding their business. I will never forget the client who told me, “I have never before been able to even think it was possible that I could own a small house, but now I have bought land and am saving to begin building a house.”
SALT clients are real people, and they suffer from real poverty. But as SALT members teach and instruct them regularly, they find answers to some of the problems that have plagued them. Our teaching method addresses both material and spiritual needs. In addition to financial change, marriages that were once broken have been restored, families have been brought back together, and people who were once outcasts in the church are becoming trustworthy and vital parts of their local church again. Jesus Christ has not lost any of His power to change someone’s life. The real questions are, “Will I be one of those whom God will change?” and “Can the poverty in my life be turned into stability and growth?”
Yes, it can.
By Trent Eikenberry, SALT staff member in Nigeria
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