Jayakumar Christian is the Associate Director of World Vision India who has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary as well as a few Masters degrees in Social Work, Missiology, and Divinity.
In a nutshell, when Jayakumar writes about “Poverty, Power and The Kingdom of God” (the book subtitle) – he knows what his talking about.
His book, “God Of The Empty-Handed”, is divided into three parts:
1) “Learning for History” is a look at the different ways people have defined ‘poverty’ and the underline assumptions that led to that definition. For example, are those who are poor, poor because of a lack of resources? Training? Maybe they are just backwards?
The best part about this selection is Jayakumar analysis of each view – the pros, cons and the real life results. He pulls no punches – tackling views from economists, politicians, relief workers, and theologians with equal vigor and intelligence.
2) The second part, “Learning from the Poor,” is a challenge to the reader to look at reality through the eyes of the poor. Jayakumar draws heavily on the concept of “power’ – do those in poverty have the power to change their lifestyle? To pursue their dreams? To work?
We here in the West might not think about it – but for most of world, their lives are controlled by forces outside of their control: economically, politically, socially, religious….
3) The last selection of the book is entitled “Learning About The Kingdom of God”. This is where Jayakumar proposes another way of tackling the issue of poverty across the world. This is a very powerful selection that can not be re-created here….
On a personal level, there was one that really grabbed me and has been stuck in my mind every since I finished reading the “God Of The Empty-Handed.”
“Sociologists inquiring into the nature of social movements suggest that popular movements need to identify a common enemy. Effective movements need both sacred people, events and objects, and demonized enemies to sustain themselves…..this ‘enemy’ may be the government, the non-poor, the economic structures, the political groups or even distorted history. However, in the kingdom economy there is no need for demonization. Kingdom power will refuse to demonize any potential member of the kingdom…the kingdom places no value on the ‘enemy’ label.”
Or to bring it home to the USA evangelical world, liberals are not our enemy. The media is not our enemy. Atheists or Muslims are not our enemy.
We may like to think so as it creates a false sense of unity. But they ARE NOT!
There is only one ‘enemy’ and that is the devil. Everyone else is either a member or a potential member of the Kingdom. We MUST remember that and quit trying to slander everyone who doesn’t think, act or believe like we do.
This is not easy as the ‘enemy’ mentality has been and is promoted everywhere…but we need to fight against it and realize that “the kingdom places no value on the ‘enemy’ label.”