Reverend Jan Scholtz Ideas that Martin Luther King addressed back in the 1960s were not just issues of society and culture, but they were also issues of equality. The same challenges are still prevalent today. The call to respect and care for each other as sisters and brothers is not just political or a sociological statement. Jesus once said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” One of the greatest commandments is to love God with all our hearts and minds, but the second one is very similar – to love our neighbours as ourselves. Concerns about racial equality, poverty, homelessness, health care and the marginalisation of the voiceless and powerless are moral issues. They are issues that people of faith must be engaged in. If this exciting moment in time is going to be anything other than a short lived, feel good moment, and then all of us must be partners in being about the change we seek. That includes those of us who are people of faith. Our role is to continue to raise our voices for more just systems, for eradication of poverty, for policies that do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation, to encourage and support and pray for peace. We are called to do this, not because of any particular political perspective, but because of our belief in a still speaking God, who is a God of love and a God of Justice. Yes, poverty is a wretched thing. In the monastic tradition we praise the simplicity of life. We request that people should make do with what they have, not seeking to be swallowed up by materialistic desires. However, we have no right to glamorise poverty. Very often, many of us stand out and glorify poverty as if it is a wonderful thing. If this is the case, then the Bible tells us: “Then go, sell all that you thou hast and give to the poor”. If one believes that poverty is so wonderful, share your belongings and do with very little. Do with less than what you have. The question that we must answer now is: where do we find our poor? There are many among us who are poor – they are lonely and live in both urban and rural areas. It appears that many of these people are unwanted in the community. The poor have little opportunity for education and, because of this, there are those among us who make do with an existence that is deprived and unfulfilled. Jesus said, “Anybody who as much does this to these my little ones has done it unto me.” This is what we should do as a community. As a community we must do all that we can to alleviate and eradicate poverty. We must use everything at our disposal to enhance the life of the poor and to enable them to rediscover their dignity, which they have lost though deprivation. While rediscovering their dignity, we as a community will also discover our neighbours. One way to discover is through giving back as community and with giving back comes our blessings. But it is when we reach out and give back that we will begin to see things in prospective and hear the inner voice. A community should enable people to come alive. We should not to be frightened by poverty, but should follow in the steps of the master who lived simply and had nowhere to lay his head. As a community we should go out to those who have experienced hardships – whether it is through crime, disease, gender-based violence – and help them realise that they are not alone. As a God-centered and spirit-filled community, we must be able to do these things without hesitation. I would like to congratulate the Government which has taken one major positive step by creating the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. Through this Ministry, Namibia has shown its commitment to helping its most vulnerable citizens. One major initiative has been to partner with the local constituency offices to open food banks which provide food and employment to underprivileged and poor families. These food banks work to supplement the many other projects, such as soup kitchens and drought relief schemes, which have been underway to tackle poverty at its source. So it is only in this kind of spirit and in recognizing context and circumstances, where we can truly empathize with the agonies of the poor. By giving into compassion and avoiding thoughts of condescending pity, we can empower ourselves as a nation. • Reverend Jan Scholtz is the Regional Councillor for !Nami#Nus Constituency in the //Karas Regional Council, and holds a DIP Theology and B. Theology qualifications.
2018-02-02 10:53:03 7 months ago