Interesting:Poverty verses Prosperity Gospel: A Matter of Definitions?

The definition of poverty should not be static. Poverty should not have a standard on which it is evaluated. Poverty, as defined by United Nations, is not an actuality; rather, poverty is a perspective. The people of Africa have been approached within the modern world category of 1st, 2nd, and third world.  In fact there are those who believe that we also have a fourth world! This categorization is based upon certain conclusions arrived at by “experts’ who use a certain gauge they have historically created.
However, those who live within these categories, 1st, 2nd, 3rdworld, experience the same thing universally. They experience the state of being alive, the state of life actuations arising from the state of being alive, and the process of being and becoming in consistent with the state of being alive.
The state of being alive is a function of self that happens within the anatomy and physiology; the body wakes and sleeps, and its state as an active mechanism is out of the control of the individual. Whether one is in the first world or third world, the body mechanics function independent of our environment. Though they may be affected by the environment to manifest certain reactions, their anatomical functions are static. For example, I was sitting in a hut on the East African coast. We had gone there to visit a community, which did not have access to water. The women walked about 30 kilometers to the nearest “river”. The woman cooked the food as per their definition of food. She served us the food and we ate. In my company were westerners whose definition of food is not goat head and mashed corn meal. When we begun to eat, the anatomical function was static and common to all of us. The body chewed and digested that which it was given.
The state of life actuations given the state of being alive involves the act of survival. Every person creates within his or her environment a methodology that will keep him or her alive. Those street children who beg in “3rd” world countries exist just fine within the first state of being alive. Their anatomy and physiology functions within its created parameter. To sustain this state of being, they beg because their anatomy and physiology demands sustenance. If they were fed and slept wherever it is they sleep, and this state allowed them to live, then they cannot be defined as poor. We cannot take the life of a child in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois and use it as the canon of measurement. Homelessness should not be defined within a western standard of structures. There are people who sleep outside in Mombasa, Kenya and exist for years. In fact they bring up their children within this state and they grow up to be “important” people in their society.
In fact I will argue, that the children who grow up as nomads in Africa are happier and less anxious than the children in a Chicago suburb.  Those “poor” children’s definition of living involves a covering, food, and sleep. They are not exposed to iPods, phones, laptops, microwaves, cookers, Nike, adidas, and Levi jeans. Thus their state of life though lacking according to the United Nations definition is full and less problematic. If we introduce television, cars, shoes, iPods, computers and stuff to these kids, then we assign to them an obligation that creates a miserable existence. When their mental development assigns these things as necessary and then they are deprived of them, then they become needy and their state as poor is elevated.  However, if we were to let them grow within their environment, providing them with basic necessities for their anatomy and physiological survival, then we have served them.
What have destroyed the life for many is not their environments, rather, it is the invasion of those who, using their definition of poverty and their conclusions on solutions impose an incompatible state of existence foreign to the community.
Any humanitarian effort must not impose upon the recipient definitions that are foreign to the recipient’s definition of life. In other words, the best gift that organizations can give to the disadvantaged is that help which involves sustaining their life (Medical), improving their ability to utilize their environment to sustain themselves (education), and a guarantee for peace. If a person cannot afford to maintain a car, don’t buy him a car. Give him a bicycle.
One cannot build a drive through bank in a city where every body walks. It makes no sense!
It is this misunderstanding of poverty and sustenance that is affecting many Christians in Africa. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”Matt 6:33. When Jesus was speaking to the disciples in the last century BC, life was simplistic. His definition of all these things did not include modern definitions. I believe his definition, as God is limited to providence that provides sustenance within His definition of life as the creator. Not the misconstrued proclamation of prosperity gospel, all these things meaning the pastor’s Mercedes, range rover, Rolex watches, and 7 bedroom mansions. These things being paid  for by the poor believer! All these things for man, is not all these things for God! Remember 1 day for man is like 1000yrs for God.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) is a Development consultant, Broadcaster, Educator, Author, and Columnist. Email him at [email protected] Listen to tnk 5pm Friday on 92.1 ATG EST (Nairobi, Kenya)

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