Poverty and unemployment are two of the main concerns in our country right now. We cannot turn a blind eye concerning this problem. As the Church, we need to ask the Lord to help us change the nation. There are many projects, conferences, and initiatives, but a lot of them don’t produce any significant change.
There is a general misunderstanding that poor and unemployed people are lazy, unintelligent and not willing to do something about their own situation. Although this may sometimes be the case, the truth is that poverty and unemployment are very difficult and complex issues with no easy answers.
The solution for the upliftment of people lies in several areas:
- Foreign investment
- Wise government policies
- Restitution where necessary
- Exposure and eradication of all forms of nepotism and corruption in especially the government and corporate businesses
- Exposure and removal of deals and agreements that can harm the economy in the short and/or long-term
- Prayer for the government and businesses to work towards and maintain a solid macro-economic structure
- A spirit of generosity in people that have means to help and to give
- A greater involvement and compassion from the Church
- The spiritual salvation of the poor
These are just a few of the things that need to change in us, that can bring a change in the plight of the poor, the powerless and the unemployed:
1. When we pray for the poor, we need to do it with compassion in our hearts
You cannot pray from a cold, clinical and judgmental heart. Unless we (who have an abundance) identify with the plight of the poor, it will be very difficult to pray for them and to understand their helplessness. When we understand our own hopelessness and helplessness without God, we will understand the needs of the poor and then we will be able to pray for them.
2. Before we can refer the poor and needy to God as their source, we also need to live with the understanding that God is our only source
We need a Church that will understand and practice 2 Cor.9:6-9: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
3. We need to understand that poverty will not be eradicated in this life (Deut.15:11; Matt.26:11)
However, that does not mean that we must not do our utmost to feed them. James 2:15 makes it clear that faith without works is dead. One of the things the Church needs to do is to focus on the needs of the poor and needy.
Guidelines to pray for the more than 55% of people in the country that live on or under the bread line
- First and foremost, we need to pray for the constitution to be the last and final authority in every debate. Pray for a judiciary that will continue to respect the constitution, especially when it comes to issues like land reform, nationalisation of mines, corporate investment, etc.
- Pray for the issues concerning land in our nation. Pray for an understanding of food production, the complexity of land reform, social needs and resources in South Africa. Pray for solutions to be found between the farming community and government legislature. Let us pray about land reform and for a deeper trust between farmers who have land and the government. Pray for the constitution to be upheld in this situation.
- Pray for an effective education Proper training of teachers and lecturers at schools, universities and colleges, and for teachers with integrity, high moral standards, and who want to carry the burden and responsibility to raise a generation of responsible young people.
- Pray that God will protect us against any form of revolution. History proves that the majority of revolutions lead to wide-scale violence, destruction, bloodshed and labour It always results in more people being retrenched and increased poverty.
- Pray for the Church leaders to be a strong prophetic voice towards its own members and the government.
- Several very clear examples can be given where real spiritual revivals in the Church lead to the end of poverty, layout unrest, riots, (i.e. The French Revolution that didn’t spill over to England because of a spiritual revival in England). Ask God to be gracious to us and to send the Holy Spirit to renew and awaken our hearts in a spiritual revival amongst all peoples in our nation, such as South Africa has not yet seen.
- Pray for an end to corruption (that the work of syndicates will be exposed) and people to have a will to work. Many want to reap the benefits of the new political system in South Africa, but not all want to contribute to the gaining of riches by hard work. Without a strong work ethic, not much will change. Wealth is not created by re-distribution of money, but by creating wealth through hard work. Redistribution of money will not solve the problem.
- Pray for church members to be involved in large and small projects to help the poor and to create work. Many Christians in government positions, corporate and small businesses, and in key positions can help in legitimate ways to channel money to help the poor and unemployed. Pray that these people would speak out and help to give guidance and give wisdom on what to do to help the poor and needy.
- As Christians, we need to align our thinking with God’s Word. We need to understand what the Bible says about the poor and needy and what God expects us to do about it (James 2:1-5; 5:1-6; 2 Cor.9:6-9; Deut.15:11; Matt.26:11).
- Pray about laws and policies that keep systemic poverty intact. Many times poverty is caused by laws that exploit the poor and drives them back into hopelessness and humiliation.
- There are large amounts of finances available to alleviate the pressures on the poor and needy, but corruption and greed, even amongst senior government officials, cost the country hundreds of millions every year. Ask God to awaken the conscience of our national, provincial and local leaders. Pray for the exposing of all and any kinds of corruption, bribery and
- Pray for the removal of all animosity between the government and the labour force on the one side and the business sector on the other side. This is a major obstacle in creating jobs. In the agricultural sector alone, more than a million people can be employed if suspicion can be overcome and if laws can be implemented that will benefit all parties.
- The government cannot create employment. Corporate associations, the business sector and small businesses create the work. Pray for government policies that will make it possible for the business sector to employ people. Pray for laws that will protect both the employers and the employees.
Note: It is a grave misunderstanding that the Church is not doing anything about the plight of the poor and unemployed. Calculations show that the Church is literally giving billions every year in helping the poor and needy. The Church can and must do more, but the Church is certainly not doing nothing.