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El hombre propone y Dios dispone

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Tallahassee is a beautiful place to experience spring, and all around us are reminders of God’s renewing love and power, and His promises to establish and protect us. Through all of the warmth and color, we remember that God is good, and that He delights in giving good things to His children. This has been very present in our minds and hearts over the past several weeks as we have been astonished by the generosity and love of our brothers and sisters around the country as they have joined with us in our journey.

As we head out of the spring semester and into a busy summer season, we have several plans, praises and prayer requests:

  • Two Sundays ago I spoke at our home church here in Tallahassee (Westminster Presbyterian Church). This was my inaugural talk, and what a better place to give it than among our dear church family. Thank you, Wesminsterians, for your encouragement, wise counsel and support! We are so blessed to have found a family like Westminster during our time in Tallahassee.
  • This week we are sending out another set of letters and prayer cards to churches in Florida. Please pray that God would provide for our needs and that we would receive the support we need in these upcoming months.
  • In a few weeks we will be traveling to Carbondale, IL, for a very special event: Amanda Doolittle’s high-scho0l graduation! We are so looking forward to spending time with our Doolittle family.
  • Later in May, we will be traveling to Peru for two weeks. Cassie and I are both looking forward to visiting with old friends. Here are a few of our goals for the trip:
  1. Meet with the missionaries to iron out the details of my job description
  2. Visit the churches and ministries to learn and share with our friends who are laboring there
  3. Look at apartments (to get a better idea of what our living arrangements will be like)

We covet your prayers for these plans, knowing that (as they say in Peru)  el hombre propone y Dios dispone (man proposes, and God disposes); we may plan, but it is God who holds us firmly in His perfect, infallible plan, and without Christ we are totally incapable of accomplishing anything: “…He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We thank you for your prayers and support and ask that you continue to hold us in your prayers as we seek to dwell in Christ and trust in Him.

If you would like to support us financially, or would like to learn more about Peru Mission and our work with Peru Mission, please contact us at caleb.cassandra@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

The “Poverty of Being”

Several weeks ago, Cassie and I read the book When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts is a challenging book for many reasons. It challenges Christians to look the plague of poverty square in the face, and to consider our own calling to (truly) help the poor, even as we consider our own poverty and need of help. It also challenges long-held notions of how best to help the poor rise from poverty, and also what the worst effects of poverty actually are. In response to these issues, the authors call on Christians to consider poverty alleviation as involving three basic activities: relief, rehabilitation and development.

Perhaps one of the most convicting messages in the book is that poverty has different faces and the most general face of poverty is what the authors call a “poverty of being”:

until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good. . . . [R]esearch from around the world has found that shame–“a poverty of being”–is a major part of the brokenness that low-income people experience in their relationship with themselves. Instead of seeing themselves as being created int he image of God, low-income people often feel they are inferior to others. This can paralyze the poor from taking initiative and from seizing opportunities to improve their situation, thereby locking them into material poverty.

At the same time the economically rich–including most of the readers of this book–also suffer from a poverty of being. In particular, development practitioner Jayakumar Christian argues that the economically rich often have “god-complexes,” a subtle and unconscious sense of superiority in which they believe that they have achieved their wealth through their own efforts and that they have been anointed to decide what is best for low-income people, whom they view as inferior to themselves. (64-65)

In poverty alleviation work, in any of the three stages outlined in When Helping Hurts, both communities involved in the process can potentially, through the power of the Gospel of Christ, help each other to rise from this poverty of being. This is a humbling and wonderful message indeed.