This month, we begin a year-long series on different ministries among the 924 million
Working Definitions and Facts
“Urban poor” defined: Those living on
Number of urban poor: est. 2 billion
“Slum community” defined: Communities
Number of people living in slum
people who live in slum communities across the globe. These residents now represent some thirty-two percent of the world’s urban population. Each month a different urban ministry practitioner will lead us through a different community. Some communities will reflect places of hope; others will reflect places of despair. In addition to the more commonly known slum communities near Nairobi, Manila and Cairo, you will read about lesser known ministries among slum communities in places as different as Cap-Haitïen, Haïti; Luanda, Angola; Bucharest, Romania; and Freetown, Sierra Leone. These practitioners will help us understand the context and the different biblical themes and texts that inspire their actions. We will learn how they do ministry with the poorest of the poor. We will listen to their stories of both personal and community transformation.
Poverty is a broad concept touching economic, social, physical and spiritual realities. It affects peoples’ identity and includes social exclusion, absence of harmony in life and well-being, deprivation at every level of life and one’s ability to participate in the welfare of the community. But as Jayakumar Christian points out, the causes of poverty can be traced to “inadequacies in the worldview.”1 A worldview can be a powerful instrument in perpetuating chronic poverty. All cultures and societies have within their worldview construct aspects of fallenness. True Christian spirituality cannot be divorced from the struggle for justice and care for the poor and the oppressed. Spiritual formation is about empowering Christians to live their faith in the world.
Poverty is not a new subject in missiology. Publications on slum communities and mission with these geographical areas go back to William Booth’s 1890 classic urban text, In Darkest England and the Way Out (London: Salvation Army). The box below introduces you to some excellent literature that is readily available on the subject. In the pull-out box above you will find important definitions and numbers.
We begin this month with Cite Du Peuple—Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
Worthwhile Books to Consult on Slum Communities
1. Christian, Jayakumar. “Powerless of the Poor: Towards an Alternative Kingdom of God Based on the Paradigm of Response.” Doctoral thesis. Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasedena, California, USA, 340.