Poverty alleviation is not the main area of expertise for churches, so it's fair to ask why churches are integral to our work. The quick answer is that two things are essential to overcoming poverty: changing mindsets and building healthy relationships—and those are right in the wheelhouse of healthy Jesus-centered churches!
I really appreciate how our sister organization in the States explains why we work through churches. Here's what they wrote in a recent post (you can read the whole post here):
Bright Hope’s mission is church-centric.
We want local churches in impoverished communities to be the light to their communities. Rather than working from outside local churches or even just alongside them as a para-church ministry, we exclusively work inside local churches, so we are not confused as the hero.
We partner with churches in extremely impoverished communities with the vision that the churches will not be dependent on outside resources. In other words, we help churches to build leadership capacity so they can continue the work of eradicating poverty from their communities without our support.
This audacious goal demands the buy-in from all of the community and church leaders. When Bright Hope initiates a partnership in a community, we clearly communicate to leaders that our financial partnership is temporary. Therefore, to achieve success, churches must build capacity and financial resources to eventually operate independently.
When you visit the communities we partner with, you will hear them talk about the impact of their church, not Bright Hope. This is intentional, as we want the community to understand that God moves through their local church to end poverty.
Bright Hope develops a customized approach for community transformation.
Additionally, Bright Hope contextualizes our work by creating strategies unique to the strengths and resources of each community. Although projects may vary from community to community, every project we engage with has three foundational concepts:
We recognize and appreciate the local church as the change agent in each community.
Extremely impoverished people are the primary beneficiaries.
We strive to effect permanent change in families and communities, not just temporary relief.
It can be overwhelming to realize that right now, nearly 720 million people around the world are trapped living on less than $2 a day. That’s why we work so hard to help them increase their incomes and break the poverty cycle permanently. And we couldn’t do it without your partnership! So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for joining us in our mission to stop the cycle of extreme poverty!