Living in poverty can put a person in a constant state of fear and worry. Studies show that people living in poverty tend to live in less than sanitary conditions and have less access to nutrition and adequate education. Lack of education makes a person feel inferior and effects social and emotional relationships.
Studies also show that a person can develop and heal later on in life. In a sense, rise above these effects of poverty. It takes work, determination and Jesus, but it is possible.
"The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down."
I have a friend in Hato del Yaque. Her name is Yolanda. She has been working as a cook with for the nutrition center for several years now. She is a single mother. She lives in a very small wooden house by the polluted canal. She never learned to read or write, but is smart and a hard worker. She knows that God has promised a good future for her and her kids.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans
to give you hope and a future."
She is became a Christian a several years ago and started attending Church. It was difficult. Her family didn't understand why she wouldn't drink with them and are offended that she won't worship the dead with them anymore. Then at Christmas time, her mother died. Yolanda felt alone, worried and overwhelmed.
Like Abraham and Sarah, she began to panic and think maybe she needed to help God. Like any single woman in poverty she began to think she needed a man to help supply her needs instead of God alone. The Christmas after her mother died she felt especially keenly her loss. There was a man who wanted to move into her house, so thinking that maybe this was good for her and her children she agreed.
But it turned out not to be so good.
A couple of months later a group from Discovery Church in Simi Valley came for a mission trip. A wonderful lady stood up and gave her testimony to the ladies.
Lovie is a smart, happy and beautiful example to all of Christ's love and redemption. When she gave her testimony she spoke of poverty, abuse and addiction; She spoke of self worth and the promises of God. She shared about how after years of feeling like she didn't deserve a good future. God gave it to her. God blessed her with a job to help others and a good husband. God did and does what he promises.
Lovie's testimony was one of the reasons Yolanda finally decided to completely trust God. The man moved out of her house and she began to be steady in work and attend services regularly.
But a surprise happened.
About 5 months later Yolanda found out she was pregnant. She was devastated. Now she would have three children and no husband. Now she would have a larger family to fit in her home and how was she going to supply all that she needed? Fear, worry and loneliness became her companion again, but not for long...
Instead of ostracizing her, she found that her church family embraced her. The ladies of the church held a shower and as poor as they are themselves, supplied her with what she needed.
When the baby boy was born, instead of giving him several family names that is common in any family, especially in the Latin culture, Yolanda decided to simply name him Isaac.
So we had a baby dedication in church yesterday in Hato del Yaque. Yolanda dedicated Isaac to the Lord. Montan and I stood up and witnesses and I promised to give both Yolanda and Isaac as much spiritual guidance as God leads and they will allow.
There is still a lot of life ahead for Yolanda and her three children. With the help of her Father God and her church family she is rising above the effects of poverty. There will be many ups and downs I am sure, but I am positive that God has good things in store for Yolanda and her family.
The same is true for everyone living in Hato del Yaque and really all of us.
"He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth"
Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University
Prof Michael Marmot: UCL
Eric Jensen, "The Effects of Poverty on the Brain"