It’s been two years since I sat with Sharon under the Kenyan sun. We were delighted to discover that we were the same age – both of us 36 years young. But as Sharon shared stories of her life, it was our differences (not our similarities) that I found confronting me.
She: a mum of four, me: childless. She: married as a young girl, me: the freedom to choose when or if I marry. She: a rural subsistence farmer, me: a writer with an ergonomic office chair.
Hers was a life of struggle and poverty, and mine is a life of opportunity and privilege.
Looking at our lives, side-by-side, the injustice of poverty became painfully clear. Action felt more urgent. But more than that, hearing Sharon’s story compelled me to act. Because she explained that the great things she’d achieved began with your generous response.
The journey to end poverty is not a new one. As Christians, we love and serve a just God. A God who built loving care for the poor into the fabric of the law. And who continues to call us to love mercy and seek justice.
That’s why I try to keep real people like Sharon at the forefront of my mind. To renew my motivation, daily.
As Emma wrote last week, this global pandemic is revealing our human capacity for solidarity. and what happens when we really grasp that vulnerable families living in poverty are not so different to us.
It’s uncomfortable to reflect on our privilege, when so many of our brothers and sisters live in poverty. But remembering Sharon reminds me to be grateful, because the most important privilege I hold is the power to act. I can give generously. I can share the stories of those who poverty oppresses. In my own way, I can work alongside Sharon to build a better world for all.
And, so, I should.
As the new year starts, I’d encourage you to reflect on your own many blessings. Not all of us will meet our Sharon. But we can take a moment to imagine what life might be like if we were living in poverty. What struggles might we face? How might it feel? And how does this perspective change our own journey to end poverty?
For me, it brought to the surface my desire to address poverty of my daily life. It caused me to continue the journey with determination, every day, as though new.
What could we achieve if the journey to end poverty was not separate to our daily life, but an essential part of it every day in the new year?
I can’t wait to find out.