Arkansas Baptist News
LITTLE ROCK – In an effort to understand and minister to those who live in poverty, 150 people representing 60 churches across Arkansas attended the Poverty 101 conference Aug. 18 at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Building.
“This was the first year we had a conference like this,” said Breck Freeman, ABSC missions ministries team member. “Poverty is prevalent across our state, and if we’re going to do anything about it, we need to understand it and learn how to minister to those who live in poverty.”
Mindy Jamison, who serves with the North American MissionBoard and the Baptist Convention of Iowa in inner city Des Moines, Iowa, as the state CCM consultant and the co-director of the Friendship Baptist Center, spoke at a recent Mississippi ministry meeting that Freeman attended.
“After hearing her (Jamison) speak on poverty, I felt led to educate Arkansas churches on poverty and in turn find out how we can minister to those people,” Freeman said.
Freeman even managed to get Jamison to serve as conference leader.
“I think the conference was a huge success. We’ve had lots of positive feedback,” Freeman said.
The goal of the conference, Jamison explained, was understanding poverty culture.
“Poverty can be defined in two ways. One is situational poverty when there’s a death, divorce or other event, and the other is generational poverty where two or more generations live in poverty and a mindset begins to develop,” she said.
Poverty 101 focused on generational poverty, rather than situational poverty.
Mike Prince, pastor of Garage Church, Hot Springs, and conference participant, said with generational poverty “the poverty has more to do with relationships than with money.”
“That’s where the real problem is, and that’s where we need to focus,” said Prince.
“This is a huge subject. We need to apply some wisdom to it, and I think that in the past we’ve thrown food and used clothing at it, but it’s so much deeper than that,” said Prince.
Prince explained that sometimes people have to step back and evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
“We don’t want to waste God’s resources that don’t actually help people. We are trying to evaluate all the parts of our ministry through those eyes,” said Prince.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, 18 percent of Arkansans are at or below the poverty line, compared to 13 percent nationwide. Since poverty is so prevalent in Arkansas, Freeman hopes this conference gave churches lots of ideas on how they could help those in their communities that are plagued by poverty.
“This conference was birthed out of our team’s vision and commitment to assist churches and associations to impact lostness from their doorstep to the ends of the earth, but more importantly Arkansas Baptists who continue to support ministries such as this by giving to the Cooperative Program and the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering. We were thrilled that churches left the conference thinking of additional ways they can impact lostness in their communities with the gospel. We look forward to hearing how these churches continue to make a difference,” said Robby Tingle, ABSC missions ministries team leader.
Contact Leah Fender at firstname.lastname@example.org.