I was recently at a meeting of a group of non-profit leaders and pastors talking about issues around which the Church in Dallas could unite. When it came to the subject of poverty, we asked the question, “What are some of the roadblocks that we face in engaging the Church in the area of poverty alleviation?” Most of us in the group vehemently agreed with the answer: there is simply a lack of awareness of the issue.
The majorty of North Texans don’t know that Dallas is a forerunner in poverty statistics:
- Dallas is number one in childhood poverty among cities of 1 million or more.
- We rank number two in fastest growing rate of poverty.
- Dallas now ranks third, behind Memphis, Tennessee and Detroit, Michigan, in overall poverty rates at about 25% of the city’s populations.
In Dallas, we live in a city with two cities. To the south, we have intense concentrations of poverty. To the north, we have sprawling upper-middle to upper class wealth. Sure there are pockets of poverty in the northern sections of the city, but by and large, people who live in the wealthy suburban north never see the suffering faced by those who live in the midst of concentrated poverty of South Dallas.
It is this grand division between north and south, wealth and poverty, that prevents the Church from engaging in the task of killing poverty - we simply don’t know it exists as it does!
What can we do? Enter into relationship with someone in poverty. Make the statistics more than nebulous, generic numbers. Once you have a face to go along with the statistics, everything changes.
Then, get the message out! It’s time to stop the growth of poverty in our city and reverse the tide. Tell your pastor about the issue. Share with your family and friends. The more people who know about the problem, the more people we will have thinking about how to solve it…and that brings glory to God.