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Occupational licensing, cronyism, & their effect on the poor | by Kyle Hanby

Occupational licensing, cronyism, and their effect on the poor

“The free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history — it has lifted billions of people out of poverty.” – President Barack Obama at a panel discussion on poverty in May 2015.

The United States ranks as the 11th most economically free country in the world according to the Heritage Freedom Index, and has a history of embracing free-markets yet the rate of poverty still stands at a poignant 14.8 percent.

Why is this the case? While the U.S. has historically embraced free-markets, it has not been able to escape a streak of deep seeded cronyism.  Cronyism is one of the biggest threats to the free-market that nearly every country faces – especially in countries where the regulatory state has grown beyond its intended reach and the federal government exercises nearly unlimited control.

Cronyism is a broad topic that can range from corporate welfare to agricultural subsidies but one form of cronyism that often gets overlooked despite having the biggest impact on the poor is occupational licensing.

Occupational licensing is essentially any form of barrier that prevents someone from entering a certain field of work.

Some forms of occupational licensing make logical sense, such as a medical doctor being required to complete a certain education and pass a rigorous test before being able to prescribe medications or operate on patients.

But, there are other forms of occupational licensing that are created to exclude hard-working individuals from entering into a specific line of work.  This form of cronyism fights the free-market and serves as a barrier to lifting people out of poverty.

One example of occupational licensing that often excludes poor people from earning an honest wage for their work is hair braiding, and more specifically a type of hair braiding that is only passed on from generation to generation within the African-American community.  Although we are beginning to see these restrictions loosened, many states either have or have had laws that forbade people from braiding hair for money without a license.  If one wanted to obtain a license, they would need to attend a cosmetology school (where specific styles of hair braiding are not taught), gain many hours of experience, and usually pass a test.   It’s silly for someone to go to school to obtain a license so that they can practice a certain kind of hair braiding that they were not even taught in that school in order to earn a living.  Check out Melony Armstrong’s story on the Acton PowerBlog.

Often times, when policy makers create occupational licensing laws, they think they are protecting the consumer from purchasing a harmful service.  In this case, the only people that are being protected are those that can afford and have the time to go to cosmetology school.  The opportunity cost to give up whatever work someone has in order to attend school is far greater for individuals living in poverty than those who are well off.  Occupational licensing barriers limit the field of competition so that the poor are excluded from earning an honest wage.

Hair braiding is the most popular example that many turn to in order to show the negative effects of occupational licensing, but this form of cronyism runs rampant in other sectors of the work force.  Take a look at the Institute for Justice’s page of occupational licensing cases that they have taken up and you will see that it’s far more than just hair braiding.

The Illinois Policy Institute recently highlighted the story of a woman who served a year in prison and when she was released she turned her life around but was never able to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse because of her criminal history. Maybe it makes sense to prevent people with certain criminal backgrounds from holding certain jobs but is it prudent to prevent a single mother of three who has turned her life around from pursuing a dignified career as a nurse?

President Obama was correct when he made his comments on poverty and the market.  The power of the free-market is greater than any governmental regulation program.  As Christians, it is imperative that we do not lose the heart of our message.  We are not simply fighting against a regulatory state because we don’t like it or because we think it’s annoying.   We are fighting for the conditions that cultivate human flourishing.  If we care about poverty alleviation then we must care about giving individuals the liberty that empowers them to create value in society.

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Kyle Hanby is a Liberty@Work Associate at the Acton Institute.  He recently graduated with a degree in economics and finance from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana, where he chaired the American Enterprise Institute Executive Council and was the University Relations Intern at the Charles Koch Foundation.

*Photo is CC Image courtesy of John Atherton on Flickr.  This post was originally posted on the Acton Institute Power Blog.

From the Margins to the Center: Being With the Poor Who Are With You Always | by Dan Hugger

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“The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me.” – Mark 14:7 (NABRE)

Poverty is deeply disturbing. We see others who lack, others in need, and we feel that in a better world this wouldn’t be so. Christ points out, as is his habit, an uncomfortable truth. The poor will always be with us and, by extension, that poverty is an insoluble problem. Judas, as was his wont, was not pleased.

Poverty is an insoluble problem because it is a human problem, a social problem, and, as with all social problems, the result of our individual and collective ignorance, neglect, and sin:

Well this side of Paradise! … There’s little comfort in the wise.

In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith puts his finger on the fundamentally social nature of the problem of human need which is made of, “not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without.”

Many economists attempt to distinguish absolute and relative poverty and this has merit in some contexts (e.g. tracking the effects of public and private reform initiatives), but our concern for the poor is not abstract and strictly material but concrete and relational. As St. John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis explains,

We should add here that in today’s world there are many other forms of poverty. The denial or the limitation of human rights as, for example, the right to religious freedom, the right to share in the building of society, the freedom to organize and to form unions, or to take initiatives in economic matters do these not impoverish the human person as much as, if not more than, the deprivation of material goods? And is development which does not take into account the full affirmation of these rights really development on the human level?

Poverty means existing on the margins of a community be it in economic, educational, ethnic, familial, national, or religious spheres. And just as there must always be a center to society so must there be margins. Civilization itself produces its discontents. The poor are with us always. Economic development can, has, and will continue to occur when and where the habits, institutions, and traditions of free societies put down roots but there will be many for whom higher standards of living come more slowly and gradually than those at the centers of development.

This is why the preferential option for the poor is needed. It centers our concern on the human person irrespective of privilege. As Christ tells us:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” (Luke 6:20b NABRE)

This is why Pope Francis tells us in Evangelii gaudium:

Our commitment does not consist exclusively in activities or programmes of promotion and assistance; what the Holy Spirit mobilizes is not an unruly activism, but above all an attentiveness which considers the other “in a certain sense as one with ourselves”. This loving attentiveness is the beginning of a true concern for their person which inspires me effectively to seek their good. This entails appreciating the poor in their goodness, in their experience of life, in their culture, and in their ways of living the faith.

The poor are not a problem to be solved but persons to whom we are called to solidarity. And if this is true of the poor what does this mean for poverty? First, it means that poverty does not compromise the dignity of persons and should not be the measure of men and women. Pope Leo XIII in Rerum novarum rightly observed,

True dignity and excellence in men resides in moral living, that is, in virtue; virtue is the common inheritance of man, attainable equally by the humblest and the mightiest, by the rich and the poor…

Second, it means poverty is best addressed not by planned programs of assistance and development but by breaking down barriers between marginalized groups and peoples and opportunities for personal and social development; shrinking the distance from the margins to the center. St. John Paul II provides both a cautionary tale and an excellent example in Centesimus Annus:

The fact is that many people, perhaps the majority today, do not have the means which would enable them to take their place in an effective and humanly dignified way within a productive system in which work is truly central… Even in recent years it was thought that the poorest countries would develop by isolating themselves from the world market and by depending only on their own resources. Recent experience has shown that countries which did this have suffered stagnation and recession, while the countries which experienced development were those which succeeded in taking part in the general interrelated economic activities at the international level.

The poor may always be with us and poverty may be an insoluble problem but, “whenever we wish we can do good to them” by attentiveness to and solidarity with their struggles. From that place we can seek their good by doing what we can to bring them towards the center of our social and economic lives. Encounter by encounter. Likewise, we can examine our institutions to remove obstacles we’ve erected intentionally or accidentally which keep people at the margins of our society, and bring many closer to the center of our society.

Dan Hugger

Dan Hugger is head librarian at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty

The Power of the Gospel | by Caleb Stewart

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The gospel of Jesus Christ is the great equalizer of humanity.  In it we understand that the differences between one man and another are painfully minuscule when compared to the differences between any man and God.  As Paul flatly states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 – NIV)

It may be easy to think of myself as high on the ladder of life because I’m a few rungs above my neighbor.  However, the gospel shows us that a few rungs is nothing.  The ladder of God’s holiness stretches through eternity.  I may perceive a gap between me and someone else.  But from God’s perspective, we’re practically sitting on each other’s lap.  Thus, Jesus himself encourages us to take stock of our vision toward the misgivings of others: “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 -NIV)

It is called the gospel, or good news, because God (in His mercy) spans that infinite distance between us and Him through his Son, Jesus Christ.  We all, simply put, are in desperate need of a savior – rich and poor alike are united by their need for Him.

James, the brother of Jesus, applies this truth to personal economics in his letter to Jewish believers in exile.  In James 1:10, he notes: “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.  But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.” (NIV)

You don’t have enough money?  No big deal! God chose you to be lifted up above your circumstances through the salvation that Jesus brings!
You have more than enough money? No big deal!  Naked you came into this world and naked shall you leave.  The only thing you really have is the salvation that Jesus brings!

The astounding power of the gospel lies not only in its ability to lift up the poor, but also its ability to flatten the well-to-do.  For the poor, the gospel corrects their self-perception.  In its estimation, they are not the forgotten of this world.  They are the remembered of God whom He loved so passionately that he sent His own Son in order that He could redeem them and subsequently share His riches with them.

For the well-to-do, the gospel also corrects their self-perception.  In its estimation, they will be forgotten by this world.  But, if they will consider what they have in light of God’s desire to share His riches with them, they too can be the remembered of God.

And since, in the end, our only treasure is His anyway, we are free to take the financial advice that Christ himself offers, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” (Luke 16:9 – NLT)

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Caleb Stewart is an award winning filmmaker, writer and public speaker.  He is the owner of Nomenclature Media and blogs weekly at JCalebStewart.com.

 

The Importance of Private Property | by Jonathan Moody

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Stop for a moment and think about the most successful economies in the world.  Imagine what would happen if no one in those countries could own land or other goods they purchase.  Would that impact their success?  

If your gut-reaction is “yes, of course,” then you (like most) believe people have a right to acquire private property.

This is not a new concept.  In fact, the Ten Commandments assume that property ownership is a natural part of the human experience.  In Exodus 20:15 we read, “You shall not steal.”  This clearly implies that individuals own “things” (i.e., private property) and that an individual’s property should remain theirs, protected by law.

It is easy to overlook topics like property rights when we discuss poverty alleviation. The current tendency is to focus on how to meet urgent needs rather than adjust systemic issues that act as roadblocks to individual and community fruitfulness.

But as Herman Chinery-Hesse, (aka, the Bill Gates of Africa), points out, “When one is born in any part of the world, your first wealth is the land you are standing on.   If there is an issue with that land and that land cannot be monetized, you have a problem.”  He goes on to say that due to a lack of clear land titles in Ghana, one can buy the same piece of property 4 or 5 times.

In recent months, my work with PovertyCure has brought me to Guatemala, Peru and Rwanda, in addition to good ol’ Grand Rapids, MI.  No matter where I go or how much “poverty” I encounter, I remain amazed by the dignity of every person I meet.  Each of us is created in the image of God and endowed with ingenuity, creativity, and the power of human enterprise.  This is as true in Timbuktu, Mali as it is in Paris, Texas – in Cleveland, OH as it is Shanghai, China.  The worth and potential of the human person is the same from the most advanced economy to every corner of the “developing world.”  

So, what makes one national environment different from another? Why do some societies prosper, while others languish?  I offer that the difference lies in a nation’s social norms, its institutions of justice and in the presence of rule of law, including the protection of private property.  

Specifically, individuals must be able to own property, including land, and be assured of some protection for their investment.  Otherwise, how can they take and multiply that resource in order to honor God and provide for their family?

This is a foundational concept within the PovertyCure Statement of Principles:

The rights and responsibilities of private property must be supported.  One of the crucial lessons of development economics is that the poor cannot create wealth for themselves and their families without secure property rights.  The Judeo-Christian tradition provides powerful resources for encouraging the property rights of the rich and poor alike.  It shows that private property is not an artifact of greed and possessiveness, as many believe, but rather a legitimate institution rooted in our role as stewards of what God has entrusted to each of us.

As economist Hernando DeSoto says, “Once you settle the issue of who lives where and who does what with who, people start understanding the value of standard rules, that you not only need to have rules that you and your group respect, but that everyone understands… that is the rule of law.”

Studies show that when a society offers a clear title of land ownership the positive impact is both economic and social.  People can capitalize on their resources and thus create wealth in a community.  And perhaps more importantly, people begin to see themselves as contributors – as the drivers of their own success rather than victims of their circumstances.  

Again, I quote Herman Chinery-Hesse, “We need to focus first on things like property rights … so people can take their ancestral land and borrow money against it to set up businesses and pay taxes … that is where our survival is and where our money is, and where progress will come from.”

For further reading on the Biblical foundations to property, see “The Biblical Roots of Private Property,” by Dr. Jay W. Richards.  For information on the status of property rights, rule of law and other barriers to development around the world, check out the Economic Freedom of the World Index, the Index of Economic Freedom and the Doing Business Report.

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Jonathan A. Moody is the Managing Director of PovertyCure, an Acton Institute Initiative.  

Antonio, A Focus on What Works | by Patrick Oetting

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What causes wealth?

The tendency is to focus on the factors that create poverty. The results are often solutions that undermine the dignity of the individual – solutions imposed from a “higher-authority” on people that we deem “poor.” Conversely, when we look at the factors that cause wealth, we begin to see individuals in a new light – as the heroes of their own stories.

This is precisely the scenario I witnessed this past week in San Juan Comolapa, Guatemala – a pueblo located about two hours drive outside of Guatemala City.

Five years ago, Antonio heard the message of personal liberty and the power of enterprise while listening to a radio feed hosted by the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. Soon after, he discovered the PovertyCure DVD series, which he and his son used to learn English! These core messages have drastically changed Antonio’s outlook on life and helped him cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset that has affected the entire San Juan Comolapa community.

In those 5 short years Antonio founded a microenterprise firm, a childhood learning center, and a think-tank devoted to seeing increased freedom in San Juan Comolapa. At Antonio’s learning center I witnessed firsthand the innovative approach that he has taken to educate hundreds of children, mostly from a background of poverty.

This small learning center operates with a for-profit business model. In a town that seemingly has little to offer, Antonio has provided such a great curriculum that parents are willing to pay a fee for the children to learn. The reasonable costs involved motivate parents to both stay involved in their children’s education and hold the educators responsible. This self-sustaining model also allows Antonio to continue scaling his business and thus reach more and more children throughout San Juan Comolapa. As I heard Antonio’s vision, I was inspired. He plans to spread this model, and the skills it offers children, throughout Guatemala.

When you couple the effect of the school with the impact that his micro-loan business is having on local vendors, there’s no question that Antonio has used the PovertyCure principles to dramatically improve life for many in San Juan Comolapa.

Antonio’s entrepreneurial mindset has also rubbed off on his family. His 13-year-old son, Jimmy, who served as our translator for the trip, is already a high-level computer programmer and his video-blog is a YouTube sensation in Guatemala. Antonio’s brothers have formed a band that now travels the world, recently opening for Jennifer Lopez in Las Vegas.

Antonio, who once asked for help, has seen his family rise out of poverty through entrepreneurship.  His businesses now serve hundreds of families in his community, giving them the same chance to move from dependence to independence.

When communities have access to economic tools and the freedom and knowhow to use them, they will inevitably succeed. We have found this to be true not only in Antonio’s case, but in hundreds of stories that we have captured from our partner network. They show us that it is high time that society at large begin to look at the factors that cause wealth, rather than focusing on negative attributes of individuals and communities that harm dignity and perpetuate cycles of poverty.

 

Patrick Oetting is the Strategy and Engagement Manager of PovertyCure, an Acton Institute Initiative.  

 

Three Reasons to Stop Focusing on Children | by Peter Greer

 

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Examine the marketing materials for most aid organizations, and you’ll notice that children are prominently featured in everything from clean water to refugee resettlement. Sometimes they’re depicted as desperate, wide-eyed, malnourished, dirty and alone. Other times, images portray children flashing wide grins, full of energy and unbridled hope for the future. The innocence of youth is compelling.

Children are incredibly precious, significant, and special. Everyone knows this. Why in the world would I be encouraging us to consider decreasing our emphasis on them?

Before you call me a Grinch and accuse me of possessing a “heart that’s two sizes too small,” here’s why I think it would actually be in the best interest of children if we stopped exclusively focusing our aid efforts on them:

1.     It masks the fact that not all children in poverty are orphans.

Overly simplistic images of children by themselves and out of the context of their surroundings perpetuate a pervasive, damaging picture of poverty that tells us that around the world that all children in poverty are orphans. In truth, the vast majority have a living relative. The Better Care Network points to studies in Cambodia, for example, revealing that 75% of children living in orphanages are not actually orphans but have one or more biological parents still living. And even more have living extended family members.

2.     It can put children at greater risk.

When an organization, particularly a residential care institution, focuses exclusively on providing for children, over-extended parents are more likely to send their children away, assuming that their sons and daughters will have better access to care and opportunities at an institution, rather than in their family’s home. Parents are trying to do what’s best for their children. But studies show a disturbing trend: children in these situations become more, not less, vulnerable. The trauma of being separated from their families and the impersonal attention that they may receive at an institution can make them more likely to experience developmental delays, difficulty forming attachments, exploitation, and abuse.

3.     It can undermine families.

For deep, lasting change to occur, transformation must be experienced not only by children, but by their whole families. I’ve witnessed the gut wrenching reality that when children are returned to families who have not received the support and care that they need as caregivers, children can end up in the same cyclical, heartbreaking situation. For every heartwarming picture that you’ve seen of little hands eagerly holding donated gifts and treats, there’s a second picture that you’re not seeing: their family.

Might it be that by focusing on children we are undermining the role of their family? Why are parents invisible and often forgotten? Perhaps it’s because giving a few toys to a child is far easier than walking alongside a parent who wants to start and grow a small business or become free from addiction. Perhaps it’s because we assume culpability of parents for their situation. Whatever the reason, loving children demands an equal measure of love for the family around them, no matter how difficult it might be.

Please understand me. I am all for helping children! I simply believe that focusing exclusively on children to the exclusion of their families often proves to be less helpful, and possibly even damaging, in the long run.

Let’s seek out organizations and strategic approaches that focus on empowering men and women to provide for themselves and their families. When the family flourishes, children grow up with strength and hope for the future.

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For more, check out When Helping Hurts, The Poor Will Be Glad, or download the free e-book, Stop Helping Us!

 

Peter Greer serves as President and CEO of HOPE International and blogs at peterkgreer.com.

Leading with a Servant Heart and God-Given Call to Business | by Bob Vryhof

Elizabeth_InPostCorruption and violence continue as major obstacles for local job creators in Honduras, and yes, this can often make “success” a lofty goal. However, in the midst of this, the nation—from the bottom to the top—is going through a unique time that inspires much hope.

Two institutions have woven themselves into the fabric of the Honduran communities they serve – MCM and Diaconia Nacional (DN). They serve their communities in various ways, ranging from education, health, church growth and business development. Over the last decade, Partners Worldwide’s partnerships with these two institutions have impacted thousands of small businesses. Supported by their North American partner team – the Honduran Pella Affiliate – they provide access to capital and business skills training in some of the most marginalized urban communities in the country.

Each of these partnerships is essential to fostering prosperous economic environments for all. On their own, they are powerful, but together—as a network – they are life giving. When small business owners can access tools and networks that are normally out of reach, they are able to thrive and bring economic prosperity to their own communities.

Elizabeth is an inspirational example of how access to these tools opens the doors to thriving businesses in unexpected places.

Elizabeth was raised in an orphanage, but her God-given call to business, service, and leadership was evident from an early age. It was during her time as an intern for DN in 2006 that she first developed a heart for serving and helping small businesses grow. Soon after, DN helped Elizabeth open her own business – a souvenir shop in an abandoned building in a touristic site in Honduras – with a US $50 loan!

She bought a small inventory of hammocks, clay decorations, and other souvenirs targeted at tourists. Under her careful management, the business prospered and a few years later, she opened a mini market in a rented building, serving a small neighborhood in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

Over the years, Elizabeth accessed various loans as well as business training and mentoring through DN. Partners Worldwide has also provided constant encouragement, mentoring, training, and prayer. All-the-while, Elizabeth has mentored and trained countless emerging entrepreneurs in her community. Her life has inspired people far and wide, and she has even received multiple awards as a member of our global network.

Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit and her vision for prosperous communities all over Honduras, Elizabeth continues to innovate. Her newest business ventures include apartments for rent and a tortilla business right next to her mini market. However, even with multiple ventures in hand, she has learned to be a wise steward of the resources God has given her.  Her first business – the souvenir shop – continues to thrive. She has come a long way since her initial $50 loan nine years ago. Following her dream, her mini market now operates on a piece of land just across the street from the original location that she purchased three years ago.

Elizabeth’s use of the entrepreneurial tools at her disposal also shows the maturity of her leadership as a businesswoman – not only has she maintained a stellar repayment rate on all her loans, but today she uses debt largely to finance infrastructure and capital improvements as opposed to the inventory she purchased with that first loan.

So now, Tegucigalpa has one more dynamic business leader that recognizes her role in God’s kingdom as called to business. A businesswoman who employs numerous people in multiple businesses with a servant heart deeply committed to blessing the community and people around her.

 

This article is from the Partners Worldwide blog and written by Bob Vryhof, the Latin America Regional Facilitator.

 

 

A Hidden Treasure | By Jerry Shannon

A Hidden Treasure 2When working among the poorest of the poor families, it can be very difficult to assess what assets the beneficiaries already have in their hands that will lead to long term success. This is especially true in the case of many of the families we work with in the Kore’ Slum who upon entry into our project are begging on the streets, living in shabby houses, illiterate, unskilled and unknown in the community.

While we can see the tenacious love of Moms for their children that motivates them do whatever it takes to keep their children, we often can still only see that there are too many needs and not enough resources. It is far too easy to want to rescue them out of their situation and ignore the assets that they have to contribute toward poverty alleviation. Fortunately, God used a need among one of these families to show us a hidden asset.

A short time after we started working at preserving families, one Mother in the project had an accident. She was working as a daily laborer when she fell and broke her arm. As the sole provider she was now in a tough situation. There is no worker’s compensation, disability nor sick days in these jobs. Either you show up in the morning and are paid at the end of the day, or you do not work at all. If you do not work, then you and your children do not eat.

The beautiful gift in the middle of this sad situation was found in how the other mothers responded to her. The other mothers learned about her situation before our staff ever did. These are Moms in great need themselves, making about $1 per day and still having their own children to feed. They looked at this Mom and said, “Do not worry. We will take care of you. We will sacrifice to make sure your rent is paid. We will each make sure you have food. We will each help to care for your child until you are better. You have no worries.”

Then, after having made sure that this family’s every need was cared for, a couple of the Mothers came to the Project Leadership and said, “We are helping this family by each one of us sacrificing a little. Now, how can the project also help her?”

Through Moms sacrificing together, this Mom and her child were able to eat, pay their rent, and heal. Their family continues to thrive as do the other families who sacrificed a little during this time.

No matter where we serve, and no matter the depth of poverty, our communities have beautiful people with wonderful assets that at times are hard to see. But when they are given the opportunity to use these assets, no matter how small they might seem, true poverty gets dealt a blow.

May God continue to uncover those assets, in every situation, right before our eyes.

Jerry Shannon Trains and Equips local staff for Embracing Hope Ethiopia.

In this Together: Finding Solutions to Poverty as a Community | By Chad Hayward

The Bible calls us to work together as the body of Christ for His purposes. This is true for Christians as individuals, but also for Christ-centered organizations. The Accord Network works to unite Christ-centered relief and development organizations to serve the world’s poor.

In order to begin to help these odv3c8PVX3j8BfOhUMaaGryTKB9Y0pSqtycGD16b0zmE,UwaR--g6oRF7Ri7mbB5WWp-wJBAC73aC-k-VFRI9OA0rganizations work together this question has to be addressed: What does holistic, Christ-centered, transformational development look like? The Principles of Excellence in Integral Mission serve as the Accord Network members’ answer to this important question.

Over 160 individuals representing more than 20 countries and countless NGOs had a voice in shaping these principles. It was a lengthy process, but the end product is well worth the effort to collaborate and work together. The principles represent the views of many different individuals and organizations. This gives them much more value than if they were created by a single individual or organization.

These principles endeavor to describe holistic Christian relief and development at its finest. They are meant to be an aspirational framework against which organizations can evaluate themselves. They are quickly becoming the standard by which excellent Christian relief and development is known.

Accord Network believes that the sharing of information facilitates learning among the members of our community. We also believe that collaboration is necessary for each organization to have a maximum impact on ending poverty.  This is why we appreciate the conversation that Poverty Cure shepherds.  Shared ideas—and shared best practices—will help us serve the poor most effectively.

Chad Hayward is the Executive Director of the Accord Network.

We Gon’ Be Alright | By Byron McMillan

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“Our country is going to hell in a hand basket!” screams the news headlines making up the 24-hour news cycle that increasingly seems to rule our lives.  Once again, one year after the death of Michael Brown, we were glued to our televisions waiting for something catastrophic to happen in Ferguson, and other cities in our nation in response.  But is this our fate? Is this the truth of our situation? Is anything good happening out there? Is there any hope?

Yes, there are powerful forces marshaling for the common good in our cities and rural areas, but there are also powerful forces marshaling for the opposite. A wise person once told me to follow the money if I wanted to know what’s really going on in any given situation. So follow this:

The so-called liberal or conservative news media is owned by 6 mega media companies that control 90% of our information. 

As Matthew Cooke points out, those companies are owned by the very rich who benefit by selling conflict not truth. There is a direct monetary incentive to keep us all at each other’s throats.

The best way to combat this is to turn off your TV and social media for a while and get to work.  Start mobilizing around organizations, ministries and churches focused on the common good of our communities and helping people to flourish. Jobs for Life is one organization working in Ferguson, MO that has provided practical tools to help address poverty, begin reconciling with each other, give hope and restore the dignity being suppressed by our conflict-driven news media.

There is much in which to be hopeful! So get moving and remember, as Kendrick Lamar reminds us,

“If God got us, then we gon’ be alright!”

Byron McMillan serves as the Director of Content and Training at Jobs for Life in Raleigh, NC.