Remember when it was funny to list your relationship status on Facebook as “It’s Complicated”? There was always a spec of irony in doing so because, of course, there probably was a bit of underlying conflict at hand. A passive aggressive hint that although the person identified was close, all relationships have an element of messiness. Even the deepest and most well-intentioned ones.
As a member of the Food for the Hungry (FH) team, I have taken on an intimate relationship with the cause to end poverty in some of the hardest places on this planet. And if there were ever a “relationship status” to most accurately divulge the essence of this impassioned connection with the cause it is this:
“Why is it complicated” you ask? For starters, at a macro scale, we are trying to solve problems that no one has been able to solve yet. These issues include disease, chronic hunger and malnutrition, lack of access to economic opportunity, civil, sectarian and ethnic conflict. Depending upon where they rear their ugly heads in this world, these problems are not easily solved. If they were easily solvable problems, then someone would have solved them by now! Instead, they are complicated webs of political, worldview, economic and geographical constraints that ensnarl the most vulnerable people.
Then there is the approach one takes to combat the issues of extreme poverty. At FH, it’s all about relationships. Which, as referenced above, are implicitly and nearly always COMPLICATED. We feel strongly that it is through relationships that we will make significant and sustainable progress. We also believe that a relational approach to problem solving is purely biblical. Jesus dined with the marginalized and outcast, and in so doing offered us a beautiful model for solving problems. By being in relationship with those we seek to serve, we begin to best understand the intricate facets of their obstacles; the contextual nuances of challenges they are trying to overcome. Then we sit down together. We talk. We brainstorm. And we begin the process of figuring out ways to prevail over the things that prevent them from thriving.
That’s how it works in theory. And as is the case with most things theoretical, it ends up looking different in reality. Often, it gets complicated.
In my nearly 8 years of working at FH, I seem to be increasingly reminded about the complicated nature of our work. Sometimes we are dealing with deep-seated evil in this world. Other times we are confronted with systemic injustice and corruption. And in still more cases we are simply challenged by the oft occasion of people marginalized from opportunity, disconnected from basic human services, and devoid of reasons to hope that any of it will change.
That’s complicated stuff.
And sometimes, when you are in the thick of it all, it doesn’t feel very exciting. There is even the occasional moment when I personally stop what I’m doing, and plunge into the age-old question, “is this even worth it?”
Time and time again I come to the same conclusion:
Yes it is worth it.
It is worth it because this is how God has called me to serve Him in this world. It is worth it because His love is revealed simply by trying. It is worth it because when we succeed, His name is glorified in the process.
It is worth wading into the complicated mess of solving poverty through relationships because God does NOT get intimidated by the complexity. And therefore, neither should we.
We are calling all problem solvers. All those who are willing to move beyond comfort, and trudge through issues that make you feel sad, afraid… even hopeless. We are calling on those that are not expecting “quick fixes”, but who are committed to the complicated cause of ending poverty in the hard places.
If you are up for this challenge, consider walking with us at Food for the Hungry. It’s not going to be easy. But together we have a chance to do something special. In accordance to God’s call on our lives, we have a chance to end poverty in the hardest places through the redemptive and sustainable power of relationships. And Inevitably…
It’s going to be complicated.
Want to learn more about the great work to end poverty that these photos represent?
Download our FREE eBook, The Remarkable Truth About Ending Extreme Poverty. It will help you:
- Understand the root causes of poverty
- Discover solutions that don’t create dependency
- Identify ways you can make a difference in a world where 1.6 billion people survive on less than $1.25 per day!