Poverty, for Kuyper graduate Tim Sliedrecht, goes beyond the lack of basic needs and adequate income.
“It runs deeper than a lack of income or material things,” he said. “The cause of material poverty is really systemic poverty.”
By systemic, he added, he meant a lack of access to things like jobs, healthcare, good education, clean water and transportation.
“It’s a lack of opportunity. It’s a lack of justice,” Sliedrecht told attendees of the twice-weekly service held for the Kuyper Community in the Vos Chapel.
Long-time missionaries to Uganda, Sliedrecht and his wife Angie serve with Global Outreach International recruiting, mentoring, training and preparing people to serve in cross-cultural missions. In his message to the Kuyper community, he spoke about his first-hand experiences seeing the impacts of systemic poverty, something he said is essentially oppression.
Referencing Isaiah 59, he noted that God calls His people to address both material and systemic poverty.
“Isaiah calls these evils ‘chains of injustice,’” he added.
But, like Isaiah’s audience, God’s people today often fail to promote justice for the poor and oppressed and don’t always give the vulnerable the care and protection they are due according to Scripture.
Looking again to his chosen passage, Sliedrecht said, “We clearly see that Isaiah connects justice to righteousness. The righteous life is more than one of personal morality, it is one that cares for the poor and oppressed.”
In our fallen world, it is impossible to address poverty without the redemption found in Christ,
Sliedrecht said. When we are in right relationship with God, ourselves, others, and creation, we will naturally be motivated to take concrete steps toward justice for the poor and oppressed.
“Only when we realize our own brokenness and need for Jesus and receive His freedom can we join Him in His mission and command to help the poor and oppressed,” Sliedrecht said.