70 million people worldwide live in poverty.
Poverty is when your resources fall below your minimum needs. It means not being able to afford rent, food, or other essentials for you or your children. It means waking up each day facing insecurity, uncertainty and impossible decisions. It means marginalisation and discrimination.
Poverty is not just about money. Poverty is a relational and spiritual issue too. That’s why we spend so much time building relationships with people, and enabling them to solve problems themselves, together in groups. And it’s why we are so desperate for people to encounter the life transforming power of Jesus!
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11) It’s all about love! As a response to God’s great love for us – and how that love transforms our lives – we love others, and we also want them to experience God’s transforming love. God’s love for us isn’t abstract, it’s deeply practical. That why, when we go out into communities, we want to demonstrate a deeply practical love that ‘looks like something’.
We love, because we’re loved
It’s not difficult to work out what love looks like in impoverished communities. To those who are starving, it’s food. To those who are sick, love looks like medicine. To those who are lonely, it simply looks like time. Love looks like many different things, but it always looks like something.
But loving someone isn’t just about providing them with strength for today, it’s about giving them hope for tomorrow too. That’s why our life groups are about enabling people to build a brighter, more hopeful future – physically, relationally, and spiritually. Then, just as God’s love motivated us to love them, when they experience God’s love for themselves, in then motivates them to love others!
Why we do things the way we do them
When we are developing our programmes, we want to approach our work – our mission – holistically. It’s about aid (meeting people’s immediate needs), development (enabling them to thrive in the long-term) and evangelism (giving them the opportunity to encounter Jesus). All of this is done in the context of discipleship – we are on a journey of becoming more like Christ, and we want others to join us. Relationships might begin as ‘givers’ and ‘receivers’ – but soon, our shared journey of discipleship makes us ‘partners’.
Wherever we work we do so at the invitation of the local community, and we ensure that our work is primarily shaped by the local community. When people go from the UK to Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya, it’s about us having an enabling role – and to be begin with, we always expect our team members to commit to embedding themselves into the local community, learning from them, and submitting to local leaders so they can serve. Currently 97% of our staff in Kampala are Ugandan, in Kisumu 100% are Kenyan, and in Kigali 75% are Rwandan.
The same approach everywhere
Key to our attitude is that poverty – physical, relational and spiritual poverty – is not just a problem ‘over there’ – it’s a problem here in the UK to. That’s why we’re committed to establishing mission bases in the UK – also following our three steps approach.
The Every Life model was developed in Uganda; but is now being used in the UK, not the other way around. In many ways the UK is rich in finances – so we’re able to fund activities in countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. However, we find that communities in these countries can be so rich in community, relationships and spiritual depth – which we can then benefit from in the UK.