Faith and economic development

Interestingly, faith itself can lift a person out of poverty.  Faith can affect a personís outlook on life, their view of how things should be done.  With a person being transformed, on a journey exploring faith or coming to faith, they will steward the resources they have, however little or great, to better effect.  This will often mean a more prudent approach to spend, with priority being given to family Ė food, health care, education for the children.  Thus without any external development project, a person and their family may benefit, be lifted out of economic poverty, by a change in the person through faith.


Is it not true that when an individual comes to personal faith in Christ it changes that personís economic circumstances?  Money previously spent on unrighteous living is now available to be spent otherwise.  As that Christian is discipled, he/she encounters and begins to practice the principles of stewardship found in Godís word.  As those principles of stewardship are practically worked out in the individualís life, economic situations change further.  (Seale 2002, p68)


Employment is often unstable; housing is precarious; and vices, such as gambling, prostitution, drugs and alcohol, are typically rampant.  Within this context, the attraction of Pentecostalism is obvious: it brings order, stability, and hope to people who are living precarious lives.  To their credit, Pentecostal churches often function like surrogate extended families.  Typically, large churches have cell groups where members are surrounded by people who care for them and their families.  Within these churches, it is also possible to have a social role, an identity, as someone is valued and needed...  Typically it is the mother of the family who converts first, followed by the children and then her husband.  The church is a type of ďenclaveĒ in which social order prevails.  If the wifeís husband stops drinking, womanizing, and gambling, immediate social benefits emerge, both in terms of income for the family and in tangible results such as shared responsibility for child-rearing and less violence within the household, including less spousal abuse.  One may continue to be poor, but at least life is more orderly.  (Miller & Yamamori 2007, p23)


Through salvation, Jesus lifts us out of our isolation from God and other people and establishes us within the worldwide community of the Body of Christ.  Belonging to one Body involves sharing all Godís gifts to us, so that there might be equality among all members (2 Cor. 8:14-15).  To the extent that this standard is obeyed, dire poverty will be eliminated (Acts 2:42-47) (Wheaton Statement 1983, section 16)






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