In the day and age we live in, everyone wants to get their information in small chunks that don’t take much time to digest. This is a particular challenge for me as someone whose job it is to teach about complex subjects like poverty. I lead a class called Poverty 101 that takes about sixteen hours to really do well. But I am often asked by churches and groups if I would come and teach the basics of Poverty 101 in an hour. Because I don’t want to miss opportunities to share the work of Shepherd I accept, but it is a difficult challenge for me.

But there are a couple of simple truths that can be boiled down to a sentence or two. During Poverty 101 I tell the class that if they learn nothing else then I want them to remember two things. The first of those two things is that “It’s All About Relationships”.

In any setting, among any people, ministry is about relationships. No significant growth, no significant learning, no significant ministry happens outside of a relationship. When I challenge people to think about the times in their lives that they have grown or learned great lessons, it always comes down to significant relationships, a parent, a mentor, a teacher, a friend.

Empowering families to develop the assets they need to break the cycle of poverty is a lot less about developing great programs than it is about walking through life together. It’s about creating community, community in which families feel supported, loved and valued. It’s about creating a community in which people discover their value, not in what they have but in what they can give. And it’s about helping them see themselves as children of the Creator, and loved beyond anything we could imagine.

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