“And if we don’t heal those broken relationships…”

A few weeks ago I posted a blog that referred to poverty being caused by broken relationships. What do you think about that?

“Isn’t it about a lack of resources?” you may ask. Or you may be wondering about a lack of education, good land for farming, access to markets or the billions of things that all play into the poverty experienced all over our world.

I say, yes, but…

In this video overviewing the work of Food for the Hungry, International President Keith Wright says, “Our understanding of human poverty is that it’s all [about] broken relationships…”

FH International President Keith Wright in Northern Kenya with his son and another Kenyan boy.

FH International President Keith Wright in Northern Kenya with his son and a Kenyan boy whom the Wright family sponsors through FH.

Talking about broken relationships normally leads us to think about the relationship between one human being and another. Or groups of human beings and another group. We witness the brokenness in these relationships all around us.

Yesterday many were grieved to hear of the outbreak of ethnic violence in Kenya. It was the worst occurrence of this kind of violence in Kenya since the elections in 2008. This is particularly troubling because Kenya was supposed to be the example of current peaceful coexistence on the continent of Africa, at least prior to 2008. It was upsetting to see the strife just below the surface. We must pray for healing in these relationships, as Kenya heads into another election year.

If you are reading this from the U.S. and you think this is a problem “out there,” check out this short report from the city where I have spent much of my life. St. Louis is a great city, yet we are grieved by the racial divide among us. We even had non-American press (the BBC) document our struggle—our broken relationships and poverty. This kind of racism is difficult to see, and as a child being raised in this context, it affects your perception of others.

In FH, along with many others around the world, we have come to see that these kinds of broken relationships lead to poverty.

But, is it only broken relationships between humans that lead to poverty? No.

In FH’s staff training we present the following relationships that are broken and cause poverty:

  • Person with person
  • Person with creation
  • Person with self
  • Person with God

Even though I am listing person with God last, it is really the first and most ultimate relationship that leads to all the others.

I’ll continue blogging about these broken relationships and poverty in coming posts.

For now, what do you think? When you see a particular issue related to poverty in daily life, can you relate the issues to any of the above broken relationships? Here are some examples:

  • A people group loses homes yearly due to flooding.
  • Rural (non-American) cattle farmers don’t know what price their cattle can be sold for at market. They go through a middleman who travels the distance to buy from them. They end up selling at much too low of a price.
  • A person believes he/she was born as a dog and will die like a dog, therefore has no hope for change.
  • Girls are forced to marry at a young age, become pregnant before their bodies are mature enough and therefore die in childbirth.

 What do you think is behind all of this? I encourage you to think about it, because if you can’t get at root issues, you can only deal with a problem in a superficial manner.

I’d also like to add that we need God’s grace for the root issues to be addressed. This is not a human-only undertaking.

I’ll close with a beautiful quote from Victor Cortez, FH Latin America and Caribbean Regional Director, found in the same video referenced above. Victor says, “And if we don’t heal those broken relationships, we are going to be always poor.” Note: We (all of us), not they, will always be poor.

About Eileen O'Gorman

Sometimes I think I am incessant middle child. I find myself in the middle of things a lot. Right now, in particular with my work in communication for Food for the Hungry, I find myself in the middle—maybe a bridge builder—between “worlds.” However, what seems like many worlds all occupying one planet, is actually one grand world that God created. I just can’t get a handle on that! Mostly I hope that my work helps bring reconciliation in this world and that, by grace, we can see good things happening – on earth as it is in heaven.