"...Envision a wagon wheel with six spokes. The hub represents abject, unrelenting, bone-grinding poverty. These people live in the garbage dumps of Caracas and Cairo and Calcutta, clutching their stomachs in hunger, shivering in the rain.The author of this piece knows poverty in an intimate way, having grown up in West Africa, where his parents were missionaries. He has continued in that field, spending time in Haiti, where the conditions are as bad as any worldwide.
The outer rim of the wheel represents the opposite. By the way, the opposite of poor is not rich. The opposite of poverty is not wealth. It's "enough." "Enough" indicates the condition of wholeness, adequacy, and having one's needs met.
How do we move people from the hub to the rim? One spoke, yes, is economics—money. But equally important are the other spokes: health, education, the environment, sociopolitical justice, and spiritual life. If Christians are serious about overcoming poverty, then churches must care about each spoke. Poverty requires a multifaceted response..."
He makes a complelling case for not just sending money, but dealing constructively with all aspects of poverty. He speaks of the corrosive effects of poverty on the mindset of the victims -- they think of themselves as locked into their situation and there is nothing they can do about it.
I would also add to it the fatalism of well-meaning Christians who ask "What can we possibly do about it. The problem is too big."
A spiritual battle needs to be waged, and the Church is equipped to provide spiritual hope as well as helping to meet the more temporal needs. Wess Stafford has given us a provocative call to work on all aspects of poverty, especially the spiritual damage that poverty causes.