Ending Poverty: Aid vs. Freedom & Enterprise

Indian girl begging (Photo credit: Steve Evans)

By Phillip Reed

We’ve seen it for years, throughout most of our lifetimes actually. Not so much in America, although it certainly exists, but around the world, even encompassing for the most part the entire continent of Africa.

It is called poverty; a condition in which people find themselves where they have little money, necessary goods, means of support, and above all else, hope that life will ever improve.

We see it on the evening news or read about it on the internet, and listen to missionaries describe it in the impoverished nations in which they work. We see children scrounging around in garbage pits left to fend for themselves and perhaps their younger siblings because their parents were unable to care for them, or as is often the case in sub-Saharan Africa, dead from the AIDS epidemic. Our hearts break and we want to do something about it, after all we are a caring people.

So, what is it that we generally turn too?

In America, for the most part, we turn to our checkbooks as a way to help those living in impoverished nations. Americans give, and give, and give, and for most of us we believe it is the right thing to do.

Wait a minute, do we really?

Don’t we, especially those of us who embrace the Christian faith along with our desire for freedom and liberty instinctively know that something is wrong in how we attempt to help the poor? After more than fifty years of giving aid what are we left with?

Despite billions of dollars of aid that Americans have given through the years poverty continues to exist, and perhaps even being on the increase in parts of the world. Aid raised by a loving people who desperately want to help seldom finds its way to those who need it most. Corrupt governments, tyrants, and evil despots hoard the aid for themselves, caring little for their own people who may be starving and living in deplorable conditions while they (government officials) live as kings.

May I suggest an alternative to aid as we know it?

This alternative is nothing new as many have been embracing it for years, but is given little coverage by most of the “lame stream” media. So here it goes: the alternative that far too many of a certain political persuasion find disgusting: “CAPITALISM”

Yes I said it, capitalism; the free market system, enterprise, and entrepreneurship that can help bring about freedom and liberty to those who have never experienced such western ideals. As stated before, many who live in extreme poverty have little hope that their lives will ever change. However, I believe that in most men and women there is deep within their souls a yearning to be free, to have ownership, to embrace life, and to be given a chance to succeed or fail by their own merits.

There are some in Africa, especially those who have embraced Christianity, who are desperately telling anyone who will listen to “stop the aid. We don’t need your aid”. What they need are people of faith who will walk along side, partner, and encourage them to develop enterprise and become job creators within their homeland.

We must do this and not look at it as our “project “of in helping them to fulfill our vision for them. Instead, we should help provide resources for them that will help them fulfill their own vision, for they know best what is needed in their own countries.

If we embrace this kind of “aid,” what a joy it will be to watch them live the lives God had planned for them all along. What a golden opportunity this would be to walk with others and to spread the ‘”Good news of Christ “among them.

There are already people involved in this kind of aid. The KORE Foundation is a mission-minded organization founded by Dennis & Brenda Barton in 2003 that is focused on reaching those in “chronic poverty” such as the abandoned “throw away children of India that prompted the formation of KORE”. KORE seeks to reach the poor out of Kindness of the Christian faith, offer Opportunities not a simple way out, Provide the resources necessary that will lead those in poverty away from that kind of life, and finally show them how they can achieve independence through Enterprise. It is with this kind of process in mind that could unite achievers in enterprise with those who have never been given an opportunity to succeed.

Much of this I direct toward my generation, the “Boomers,” who are now beginning to retire and have been successful throughout the years as business owners and entrepreneurs. They have accumulated not only vast resources but invaluable experience in the free market and have a desire to share that experience and expertise with others. They need to be recruited and given the chance to be turned loose and to share their wisdom and experience to those who need it most.

Will it be easy? No, nothing worthwhile ever seems to be easy. Perhaps God made it that way for a purpose. We have been given a mandate however to be good stewards of this planet and that includes being good stewards of our fellow man. We see the need; now let’s provide the opportunity and the resources necessary to help those who desire get started toward a better life. Walk with them, love them, and watch them flourish over time as they “turn their slums into cities”, and more importantly be given an opportunity to walk with God as we share our faith along with the opportunity to succeed. As someone long involved in the mission field recently told me concerning this topic, “Let’s do the right thing right”. The right thing is to help our fellow man, but we must do it in the right way.

Now is the time.

Phillip Reed is  a husband, father and disciple of Christ who writes on faith, Christianity, politics and sports.  He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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