Posts tagged ‘poverty’

July 2, 2012

Back From Cuba

by pastortimfowler

I am back and wow, do I have a lot to tell you. Cuba is a place that is full of beautiful people and scenery and yet my heart breaks every time I go. Socialism and Communism have made it one of the poorest places in this hemisphere. The average monthly wage is around $20 per month and because the government has taken everything from those who were rich, now everyone is poor. The old saying that it takes money to make money is true. There is no way to equally distribute what I make in order to lift others out of poverty, it only makes me poor too. That taxation in Cuba assures that the government only has money and the people get “free” healthcare from doctors who are lucky to make $45 per month and would make more money if they drove a horse-drawn cart around for the public transportation system, which is how we got around in the city of 140,000 people.
But the church is alive and well and serving those in need like you would not believe. Their hearts are filled with hope and appreciation for God’s provisions, even if it means they can’t afford to eat anything more than rice and beans and plantains. But they share and help and love, even with those occasional American Christians who come to help. I truly believe that I learned more from them than I was able to teach the Cuban church. Humble takes on a new meaning for me now.
We are fooled by pictures of classic cars and beautiful facades on buildings that have been touched up to make them look good. The cars are not owned by collectors, but rather by people who bought them the last time that they had any money to spend on such a luxury. Most cars are only painted over rust buckets and few have any original working parts. The buildings are weathered and termite infested and crumbling. Not even the locals can drink the water from the public water supply because it is such poor quality.
But this does not stop the people of Cuba from taking pride in what they have and sharing it with others. They have little from the government to share but have found ways to make ends meet and share what they get through an undercover free market that shows hope of letting entrepreneurs make a little more that they can keep to provide for their own and those who need help just to survive on what the socialist way has taken away. I love the heart of these people. They know more than most, that government is not the answer and never will be when it comes to providing the needs of family. Hard work and free markets are the only reason that they were the once a thriving resort and leading producers of sugar and entertainers of years gone by. That is a fading memory now.
People in Cuba cringe when you mention the name Castro. They lower their voices and do not say his name themselves. The do not speak out against the oppressive socialist system that has plunged them into poverty like we in the USA have never seen. But they know the answer is freedom and free markets where people can achieve a level of prosperity that allows others to be employed and purchase goods produced by individually owned companies who can provide jobs to others instead of money to the government.
I cannot wait to go back. I will be sharing more about the things we did and saw, but I wanted to get this out first. So many people in America are thinking that the government is the answer and that socialism works. It is a failure everywhere it is tried and Cuba is a direct and devastating example of its results. Taking everything from the rich so that the poor have more only results in the rich becoming poor and no one able to provide jobs to those who need it. Handouts are only a temporary fix. The old saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime is true. But if you can’t even afford to buy a net or a fishing pole and there is no one now making them because no one can afford to buy them, what happens? People starve and suffer and no one is better off except the elite few who dictate oppression to the people who need a job.
Thanks for your prayers and support. God, please bless Cuba again. And God bless America!

February 1, 2012

To Work or Not To Work?

by pastortimfowler

To work or not to work? Poverty is a problem world-wide. It always has been and always will be. In Matthew’s gospel, the 26th chapter and 11th verse, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us and I believe what He says. That does not mean that we should not care about them, the question is how should we care for them? Our country has an ongoing argument about how the poor should be dealt with and I have talked about this before in a few blogs.
The best thing a poor person can do is to get a job. I am not saying that we should not provide for those who can’t work, and I am not saying that it is a simple thing to get a job. I am saying that if you can get a job it is better than living off handouts. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, he should not eat. Sadly we have developed a culture of people who believe that they deserve to have the government and anyone else who will, take care of them. I get many calls a week from people who are “professional” beggars that have developed a phone script to ask for handouts from churches. They know the agencies that I try to refer them to before I can even get the list out of my drawer. I ask them if they are willing to come do some work around the church and they almost always say no. FYI, I have never turned someone away who is in true need of food or shelter.
Many people who are poor are going through a difficult period in their life that is due to circumstances beyond their control. Sadly they often become comfortable with having the unemployment checks sent to them and begin to enjoy not having to work for their money. Soon they stop looking for work and become a burden on society. Often the excuse in the beginning is that they can’t find a job making enough money. Many times people are not willing to do a job for less than what the last one paid but are more than willing to take less for doing nothing. I have a problem with that.
Working more than one job can overcome the difference in salaries. I know of multiple places that are hiring right now if you are willing to work for minimum wage. Having two and even three jobs is not a bad thing if it pays the bills. Many of our parents and grandparents worked multiple jobs as a way of life. It is not something to be ashamed of. And before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is like to work two jobs, I do. I have done it as recently as last year. Why? Because I needed to pay my bills and I was not willing to sit around and sponge off others when I could do something to help myself.
Being on government welfare is too often the hindrance of people who would work, but don’t because of convenience. Unemployment insurance should not be extended automatically to everyone who is accepting it. The money does not come from the government, it comes from the tax payers. Sure, most pay unemployment insurance while they are working, but it is not for indefinite benefits. After the allotted time for those benefits, it becomes other people’s money that pays for it. If the checks stop, people are more likely to look harder and take whatever jobs needed to feed themselves and their families.
The bottom line is not about being compassionate or not. It is about enabling those who are fully capable of working but won’t. People who can’t work and are in need must be helped. It is the right thing to do. One of the commands of the Bible is to help those who are in need. But personal responsibility is also a command of the Bible. Laziness is a sin. Not supplying the needs of your family when you are able, is a sin. The church nor the government, should ever help someone sin. But we better be ready to help those who can’t help themselves. If we don’t, then we sin.
But when someone can work, they should. We do no favors by letting people have handouts when they could find a job. While they are in that difficult spot of in-between jobs, we need to help. We need to assist in food, housing, and the overall well-being of anyone in that position. But we must remember that old proverb that says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To work or not to work? WORK!