Spirit of Poverty

The Spirit of Poverty

Poverty is often defined by the tangible impacts a person can see—a lack of food, housing or other resources. However, there is a side of poverty that is less visible. This is sometimes referred to as the spirit of poverty.

When we consider the spirit of poverty and how poverty impacts a person’s mindset, it is often encapsulated by the word “hopelessness.” When a person’s family has struggled for generations with poverty, it becomes a cycle that is hard to see beyond. When their parents are severely poor and their grandparents were severely poor before them, why would this person think anything would change? The cycle of poverty is real and often results in feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Another of the signs of spirit of poverty is the inability to dream.[1] When impoverished children are enrolled in our child sponsorship program, many don’t know how to dream of their future. Life can be just a day to day struggle to survive, not allowing space for dreaming of a hopeful future. After they begin to attend school, learn how to read and write and gain helpful, lifelong skills, an amazing thing happens: They learn to dream of a future beyond poverty and what their life may look like! They may dream of having a job beyond day laboring or even begin to think about continuing their education. They may dream of making a difference in their communities. Children may begin to dream of being community leaders, teachers, healthcare professionals or pastors. Mindsets begin to change in adults, too, when they receive life-changing training. GFA is well-known for helping people in need develop income-generating skills. And when a woman learns tailoring skills and is gifted a sewing machine, her mindset instantly changes. She can suddenly envision a better future.

Seeing this transformation is part of the joy of our work in South Asia and Africa. Decades ago, we began to ask, “What are some solutions to poverty?” GFA began with committed prayers and a God-given desire to help the people of Asia who had never heard the Good News of Jesus. National missionaries began ministering to people’s needs and investing in community development, all in the name of Christ. That same ministry continues today!

Gunda is a great example of how a person’s mindset can change when hope enters the picture. As a widow, she saw nothing but loneliness in her future. It seemed like disappointment and rejection would follow her forever. To survive, Gunda worked in a soybean warehouse but earned very little. It was not enough to provide food for herself.

She heard about a tailoring class being offered by GFA missionaries. She decided to join the class and learned how to sew. She also started saving money to buy a sewing machine, but as hard as she tried, there simply weren’t enough resources to eat and save enough money to buy the machine. That’s where GFA was able to offer her true hope of a better future.

A few days before Christmas, Gunda was invited to attend an event hosted by a local GFA church. At that event, Gunda received a very special gift. She was the recipient of a sewing machine! Her dream had come true! “Now, with the help of this sewing machine, I can earn an extra income to overcome my financial struggles,” she said. “I thank God and the church for this gift, which [will] help me become self-reliant.”

Gunda’s new sewing machine provided her with hope and reminded her that God is with her and He is helping her escape poverty. She began stitching bags, blouses, petticoats, trousers and shirts. Gunda’s business grew, and she began earning enough money to put regular food on the table, pay her bills and save money, too. It was a simple gift that changed a woman’s life![2]

You can be a part of showing women like Gunda that they matter—that God loves them! You can support our national missionaries and give them the means to provide these life-changing gifts to people who are stuck in the hopelessness of poverty. Your gift could be used to provide literacy classes, sewing machines or farm animals to those in need. Take a look at our Gift Catalog and see what items stand out to you. Perhaps you want to gift a pair of goats or a small group of chickens. Gifts like these change the life of an entire family; they transform a mindset of hopelessness to an outlook full of faith and hope.

Please join us in increasing the hope of those living in poverty across South Asia and Africa.

Learn more about leprosy medical treatment

[1] Hope Africa Collective | A bold new way to end poverty. “Fight Poverty with Hope,” August 30, 2013. https://hopeafrica.com/impact/poverty-kills-dreams-hope-restores-them/.
[2] “Gift Helps Lonely Widow Survive, Thrive.” GFA World. July 2023. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/gift-helps-lonely-widow-survive-thrive-wfr23-06.