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Following A Call to Extreme Poverty

This is a guest post by Emily Chant, currently in South Africa. Today I walked the “wetlands”, a slum community on the outskirts of Masiphumelele. God has given me a burning passion for these communities. He has given me a desire to love these people, to pray for these people a…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

This is a guest post by Emily Chant, currently in South Africa.

Today I walked the “wetlands”, a slum community on the outskirts of Masiphumelele. God has given me a burning passion for these communities. He has given me a desire to love these people, to pray for these people and to disciple these people. He has given me a passion to be His hands and feet in a place that cannot see clearly.

It’s as if God has woven into my DNA the longing to be an advocate for these people. It is a craving that I cannot quite describe – all I know is that it is from Jesus, Himself.

I want you to understand extreme poverty. But it is something that is hard to grasp unless you walk in it, touch it, smell it, taste it and talk to it. Poverty exists in the States. I am not discouraging its’ very existence. But, there is a different kind of poverty that we Americans do not experience, it’s called extreme poverty.

Bill Hybels describes the essence of extreme poverty exquisitely in his book “The Power of A Whisper”, he says this :

“As opportunities presented themselves, I began traveling to parts of the world where life seemed unbearably broken. I had witnessed poverty in American cities, but this level of societal decimation cast the term ‘poor’ in a whole new light. God began to reveal to me the difference between poverty and extreme poverty, and that the latter was something I could actually help fix.

Let me explain what I mean.

Of the more than six billion people alive today, three billion – approximately one half of humanity – live on less than two dollars a day. What’s more, these people have virtually no access to capital that would allow them to start a business or buy an acre of farmland that would dramatically change the trajectory of their lives.

That is what is called extreme poverty, something most Americans know nothing about.”

He says this just a few sentences prior,

“In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus announced that a distinguishing mark of his followers would be their concern for those who were hungry and naked, shelterless and impoverished.”

I agree. We should care about our community back home. We must live out the call to love God, first and foremost and then to love others next. We are to live out that command wherever we are.

But, I cannot help think of this – why did God choose me to live in America? Why has He made it unbelievably easy for me to get a passport and travel to nearly any country?

Maybe it is because He wants me to live out this calling past my back yard.

Maybe it is because He has asked me to stand for the oppressed and to take the Scriptures seriously.

And maybe, it is even because He doesn’t want me to stay in America to only help Americans.

Maybe your stomach is churning just like mine is writing this. It may seem crazy and what I am saying may seem controversial. But I believe that it is time to think past ourselves.

To think outside the box and outside the boundaries of American Christianity.

God has a big call on my life and He has a big call on your life. And when you are obedient to that call, your life will absolutely look different. It will look upside down and inside out. But that’s the way of the Kingdom.

Of course, I do not know the entirety of what God has in store for me – His call is not always easy, but it is good. The life that He requires is full of risks and it can be dangerous. But, I know that my life is not my own. I know that He has bought my life and that if I allow Him to, He will use me for His glory.

I beg you to keep seeking the things above. Know that God has a call and purpose for your life. And always remember that this world is not your home yet you are not alone. There are hands and feet that will guide you every step of the way.

Serve in America as God calls you to serve. Be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever you are. Give sacrificially in every way, wherever He sends you. The light will go forth from you into the darkness of this world proclaiming the goodness of God in America or overseas.

Seek first His Kingdom. And all else will be added unto you.

Comments (7)

  • This is a wonderful and powerful word. I remember coming to the exact same realizations as I traveled on the World Race and I can honestly say my thinking has never been the same. The implemention of this has been more challenging but I have found that as I truly fix my eyes upon eternity it comes naturally as we realize that maybe we really were blessed (be American) for something much greater than ourselves. Thanks for the blog. It was a wonderful reminder.

  • Thanks Emily! Timely confirmation in my life. I believe it, but need to put action to it. Love you, thank you

  • “It may seem crazy and what I am saying may seem controversial”

    Nope- didn’t see or perceive one bit of craziness or controversy. This is indeed basic Christianity 101- to love our neighbor, to put God first before self, to go wherever He sends us or keeps us. When Scripture tells us that to whom much has been given much will be required, it is relevant to Americans- but it is not a burden. Instead, it is an invitation to utilize His blessings for the sake of the Kingdom, and in doing so, as we lose our rights to self (self-righteousness) and lay them on His throne so that He rather than self leads, we discover that we actually find ourselves and experience what it is to be fully alive.

  • It has been far too long since I have been engaged with reading Seth’s blog and staying in touch with how God is working through all those who serve and follow the call. I have been sensing a deeper and deeper desire to be hands and feet for the truly oppressed and marginalized. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Favorite things I’ve read in a while. My heart resonates in agreement on so many levels. I wish most Americans had this perspective and those that would find an outlet for their conviction. What could be closer to the heart of God?

    To find greater happiness and contentment, we don’t ned acquire more- we need to give more.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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