This is the fifth and final part of my God vs Poverty series.
Once we start praying and working for a better world, there is a risk of struggling in our own strength and power. And since everyone are sinners (Romans 3:10-18), the human way lined with failures, accidents, discouragement and fatigue. The Bible says that through the power of God, we are able to more than in our own force (Philippians 4:13). And that can sometimes be a little bit more dramatic than getting some extra energy as by an invisible vitamin kick. Sometimes, it means walking on water or raising the dead.
The ministry of Jesus and the apostles not only included human deeds but also acts of God, things that only God can do. While they gave money to the poor (John 13:29) and they also used the miraculous gifts of the Spirit to help them. As they combined action with prayer, there was suddenly no limit to what their aid work was able to do.
For example: Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead, which besides being extremely joyful in itself saved her from economic misery (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus also did food miracles out of His compassion for the hungry (Matt. 14:13-21; 15:29-39). His healing miracles had an activist dimension as well; in Mark 10:46-52 He heals a blind beggar, who thus is rescued not only from a life in darkness but also from a life in poverty.
Likewise, a lame beggar is healed from his lameness when encountered by Peter and John by the Temple gate (Acts 3:1-10). Peter says “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (v. 6, NIV), and from that moment on, the beggar didn’t have to beg again. Finally, in Acts 11:28-30, the prophet Agabus foresees a coming famine, just as Joseph did in Genesis 41, so that the church can prepare humanitarian relief.
Thus, as we fight poverty we should pray for miracles. This is why I love Iris Global. When I was in South Africa last summer I interviewed Surprise Sithole about food miracles and other forms of charismatic activism that he has witnessed (see the clip above). Heidi Baker says in Compelled by Love that she worships several hours every day to get the strength and power necessary for her ministry to the poor. The gifts of the Spirit aren’t just cool special effects, they are meant to be used for service (1 Peter 4:10). When Stephen was elected to serve the widows, it was because he was filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:3-5), and as he helped the poor he was doing signs and wonders (v. 8).
This is the central theme of this blog and, indeed, of my life. In 2012 at a charismatic conference where Heidi Baker was speaking, I loudly said “I dedicate my life to combine signs and wonders with peace and justice, and to resurrect all of Pentecost.” Heidi joyfully said “Yeah, that’s it!”, layed her hands on me, and immediately I fell down and just praise the Lord.
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this series about poverty reduction, it is that the power of the Spirit is extremely vital and necessary since it will enable you to do so much more.
Here are the other parts of God vs Poverty: