Blog post by E4 Project staff member Paul Schultz.

Over the next month or so, we are going to take some time to walk through each of our four E’s that form our process for how we do ministry.

Raise awareness about all issues related to poverty and present people with ways to effect change through holistic ministry approaches.

Connect leaders throughout the world to defend the cause of the poor and needy. We can serve God and others more effectively together than we can on our own.

Bridge the gap between available resources (people, financial and technological) with the needs of impoverished communities.

Our ultimate goal is to help our local ministry partners create sustainable solutions, and to see them replicate the E4 process in other impoverished nations.

At E4, we believe the initial step in the process is education. Fundamentally, change begins with knowledge that influences the heart, and this is where change starts to occur. We want to raise awareness about the issues of poverty. We want to encourage people to play a part in God’s plan to take care of those in need. Then, we connect these people to each other and form partnerships where we can all work together to transform communities for Christ around the world.

I was just talking with a pastor recently who said that it was difficult to believe that there were still places in this world with extreme poverty. But extreme poverty is real and God still wants us to do something about it.

What do you think about when you think about the poor? What do you picture? Do you think they are victims? Do you think they are all lazy? Do you think they just need additional resources? Those answers will shape how you see the poor.

Here is another question to think about… how do you think God sees the poor? Does He have the same opinion as you? Why or why not?

God’s concern for the poor, the oppressed, for the vulnerable (ie. the widows, the orphans, and the resident aliens) is shown throughout Scripture. Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20 (NIV).

According to the World Bank, 10.7% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day. And while that is an improvement over the past there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially in Africa where E4 Project works. In fact, half of the extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of the global poor live in rural areas and are poorly educated, mostly employed in the agricultural sector, and over half are under 18 years of age. Even harder to believe perhaps, is the fact that hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

At E4 Project, we believe that the problem of poverty is a complex one. Poverty isn’t simply the lack of resources…it is a symptom of the problem of broken relationships with God, the World, one another and even within ourselves. The problem of poverty can seem overwhelming at times and there is a temptation to despair and do nothing.

But Jesus told a story once, about a person who was in trouble and in need…two “good” persons walked by and did nothing, but a third person stopped and bandaged up the wounded man and took him to a place where he could get help. It is concerning the third person that Jesus tells us, “Go and do likewise.”

John, probably the disciple who was the closest to Jesus and saw firsthand how Jesus viewed the poor up close…once wrote, “If anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? I John 3:17 (NLT)

None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something and working together we can accomplish far more than we can separately. At E4 Project, we look for creative opportunities to work with the poor to help them use the resources they have in even more productive ways. And we look for ways we can make up the difference between what they have and what they need in order to experience the life that God wants all of us to have. That’s why we are bringing back pigs to an area that lost all of their pigs to disease. It’s why we are sealing springs so that villages can have clean water. It’s why we are training widows in microenterprise so that they can earn their own income. It’s why we are helping parents to better feed their families. In short, it’s why we do what we do.