What does poverty mean to you? Would you say it is a lack of things? Not enough food? No access to school or medical care? That’s how I would have defined it.
But when you ask the materially poor what they believe poverty really is, the answer might surprise you. They won’t always tell you that it’s a lack of things, but more often they’ll say that it’s a lack of dignity, security, opportunity, and hope. They’ll say it is loneliness, pain, bondage, and powerlessness.
That definition of poverty, when you really think about it, changes the need entirely. It’s no longer about food or medical care or even an education. At the root of it, it’s about empowerment. Empowering them to know the One that gives hope and empowering them with the opportunity to have dignity. That’s why we launched Seed Effect.
Seed Effect is a Christian microfinance organization bringing Jesus and economic empowerment to South Sudan. Seed Effect exists because of those who don’t know Jesus and who lack access to the hand-up, the tool, the opportunity that could change the cycle of poverty in their families for generations to come. We exist because relationships the world over are broken… relationships between us and God, between us and our neighbors, and between us and Creation. And we believe that we are called to use our lives as a catalyst for transformation in theirs and in turn, watch God use them to transform us.
Over the past 7 years of providing access to microloans, education, and spiritual discipleship in South Sudan, we’ve learned that restoring relationships means first investing in our relationship with God, by seeking His presence daily in our lives. While we’ve taught this to every microfinance client we’ve served, the truth is that we’ve learned so much more about seeking His presence from our clients.
When asked what Jesus means to her, Seed Effect client Namadi Lucia shared,
“Jesus made me forget the pain from my husband’s death. I found hope, something bigger than stability. God is with me through all times, He helps me to understand my purpose even when it is difficult.”
And as Beatrice Gune was telling her story about being led to Christ by the Seed Effect staff, she said,
“I am thankful for my husband mistreating me because at that point, I came to know the Lord. He is guiding me. No matter where you go, problems will be there, but Christ covers all situations.”
After serving over 2,000 clients with more than $1.3 million in small business loans, we have watched story after story like this unfold. While the world might call them poor, we know they are rich. These men and women like Beatrice and Namadi know that His presence is what brings hope and true riches. So, even and especially in the midst of heartache and hardship, they seek Him.