What causes poverty? It’s a complex problem with many answers. However, what lies at the root of much of poverty and human suffering is what we refer to as Satan’s lies, or incorrect beliefs. The reality is that what we believe impacts what we do. It affects people individually as well as allowing for corrupt and oppressive systems.
There are many examples. The belief that women are less valuable allows domestic violence to be normal in many nations. The belief in India that a daughter is a burden—her dowry an expense that will cripple the family—allows at least 500,000 girls to go missing each year through sex selective abortions or infanticide. Fatalism—the belief that you can’t change the future—results in many people accepting appalling situations. Children are not sent to school when parents believe that they will only be farmers and don’t need an education. And the belief, carried over from so many religions, that those above you need to be appeased, usually with gifts, allows bribery to flourish.
However, in every culture there are great examples of the impact of truth. The high value of education means that literacy rates in China are very high. The value of elders in many Asian cultures means that there are fewer older people living neglected or lonely. The value of community means that people are willing to serve one another.
How does it work?
As we start any project, we look at what we hope to achieve. We ask, “What are God’s intentions for this situation?” From there we look at what beliefs are helping or hindering that from happening and what the Bible says is true in that situation. In some cases we teach truth and challenge people to apply it. In other projects we model it. And in one we create art to help people see truth in new ways.
Some examples from our work include:
In His Image, helping the disabled to reach their full potential.
The beliefs that disabled children are the result of a curse on their family, that they are worthless and shameful, mean that parents often hide these children away. By opening a center and demonstrating the true potential of these children, that lie has started to be broken down.
Truth-Centered Transformation, addressing rural poverty through the church
The beliefs that as Christians ‘we need to focus on spiritual things,’ ‘helping the poor is the government’s responsibility,’ ‘we are too poor’ and ‘it takes large projects that require wisdom and skills beyond what we have’ were holding back churches from obeying God’s commands to reach out and love those around them. By teaching churches biblical truth – that they can reach out and are commanded to do so – many churches started for the first time to do projects to bless their communities. As a result, churches and believers had hope, they grew spiritually, they no longer felt like victims and they moved out of poverty! Not just one…over 200 communities are no longer poor.
The Create Commission, creating art to confront lies
Lies and truth can be a tricky topic. When our assumptions are challenged, our defenses go up. But art can break down those barriers and bring truth in ways that help us begin to change. We gather artists to meet the marginalized, the voiceless and the outcast and to ponder God’s intentions for them. As they create truth-centered art, we help their work to be seen so that it can speak to society.