The role and responsibilities of the Zambian church to alleviate poverty in the community
The biblical revelation is that God is concerned for the needs of the poor; this does not mean that it is good to be in this state. Jesus’ compassion made him to associate with all classes of people regardless of their status in society. His teaching was that good life must issue in service. He ministered to people by meeting their needs and thereby set an example of how the Church should relate to the needy in society. Although poverty has always existed, it does not come from God because all that God does is good; therefore Christian believers in the community have a duty to bring both spiritual and physical changes through their practical way of life. Concern for the poor was an essential aspect of the life and mission of the early Church. The Church in society should have a role of empowering people in both spiritual and social aspects of life and as Christ’s ambassadors on earth, the role of the believer is to engage in the mission he began. Although poverty within Zambia is related to complicated factors at the national and international level, such as debt, trade and aid, effective strategies to improve living conditions must ultimately be established and embraced at household level. Government should take the leading role in poverty alleviation strategies. Corruption remains rampant especially in government institutions, and this is the greatest enemy to the country’s development. Government needs to scale up its corruption prevention programmes and Zambia needs a political will in order to fight corruption and bring up a constitution that is people-driven. Real economic growth should translate into improved health care service, increased employment levels and improved infrastructure. This is not the case with Zambia’s purported economic growth. Economic growth should be encouraged by creating an environment which would encourage Zambians to get more interested in diverse business opportunities. The response of the Church has been to put in place mechanisms that would supplement government efforts in alleviating poverty in the community in which they exist. This has been done by initiating various skills training entrepreneurship programs to empower people with different skills according to their needs, and the current position of the three mother Church bodies, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, the Christian Council of Zambia and the Zambia Episcopal Conference is to engage government in discussion on how best poverty would be alleviated in the Zambian community. Having been a church pastor for many years now, I have been in touch with people at all levels of life, both in church and outside church. Therefore, pastoral work has enabled me to know the level of poverty that people are faced with in the community. I have done a research on this subject in order to find a solution out of this problem. I have approached the research from the Biblical revelation of God’s concern for the poor and impoverished under the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant and assessed the scriptural presentation of Jesus’ compassion for the poverty-stricken as revealed to us by the New Testament accounts. I have further considered the social, moral, political and economic conditions that are currently specific to the Zambian condition and how these might be satisfactorily addressed by the Church. I have also set up questionnaires with regard to poverty and interviewed people from different churches in order to understand why the level of poverty is high in the Zambian community, and how involved churches are in the fight against poverty. From the interviews I have conducted, it has been revealed to me that poverty level is high, and few churches are involved in poverty alleviation programmes. In order to alleviate poverty in the Zambian community, the Church should supplement government effort by getting fully involved in the fight against poverty in the way of providing education, and initiating community based skills training empowerment projects.
- Theology