The Hope for Unseen Greenville

Unseen Greenville Panel

Since we moved back to Greenville a year ago (and especially since we now live downtown), I’ve learned a few things about our city:

Greenville does a great job “hiding” its problems (such as poverty).

And (as a result of this),

It’s easier to raise money and awareness for places like Allendale than it is for Greenville.

Now, both of these observations are vast generalizations. Most of us in Greenville are aware of real problems and needs in our community. And we have had lots of supporters for our ministry in Greenville.

But when most people think of Greenville, they think of all the Top 10 lists that our city finds itself on, for food, raising a family, and more. And we are so confident in our superiority that we boast of our hashtag #yeahTHATGreenville.

Still, if you hang around long enough and open your eyes and hear, you’ll see the unseen Greenville.

You’ll want to SEE this . . .


Poverty and Violence

Are we trying to solve poverty (through short-term relief and long-term development) when we really should be looking at violence, a core determinant of poverty and hardship?

Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, explains:


I like the idea that he points out, that there is a difference between having laws and enforcing laws. “Most poor people live outside of the protection of law.”

Decades of anti-poverty efforts don’t address the justice issue of slavery and everyday violence. (For more on this, check out what Dr. Jay Richards says is the first thing you need to solve poverty.)

Haugen speaks about global poverty and global violence. But I wonder how much of this can be applied to poverty within our own country?

Related Links:

Circles Initiative

Have you heard of the Circle Initiative? Here’s a snapshot:

I’m hankful for this initiative (which is going on all over the country, including right here in Greenville, SC). The mission and success of programs like this is why I firmly believe that relationships are the pathway to solving social issues.

Related Links:

Thinking Strategically About Education in South Carolina

richard riley statehousereport

Recently, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley gave remarks to the S.C. House Education Task Force. The context was a State Supreme Court decision in favor of more equitable funding for high-poverty, rural school districts.

His remarks are worth reading in full, but here are my take-aways:

  1. “Don’t get boxed into a construct that making positive change is too expensive, too complicated, and can’t be done.”
  2. “Have a sense of urgency. Recognize that now we are catching up. . . . Over the course of 20 years [when this case was brought before the Supreme Court], our State policies left behind 25 percent of our children.”
  3. Attract and retain effective teachers and leaders. (I agree, and agree.)
  4. Focus on early childhood education. (I agree again.)
  5. “Raise the expectations of 7th and 8th graders through pre-career, technology, occupational and college exploration opportunities.
  6. Provide engaging after school and summer learning programs. (And of course I agree.)
  7. “Art and music are a part of a high-quality education.”

Click here to read Mr. Riley’s entire statement.

Related Links:

How to Solve Global Poverty

elephant_chainsxchu_siewlian1Don’t you wish it was that simple? Don’t you wish someone could come up with a solution to global poverty, in just a few easy steps.

We know that if solving poverty was simple, it would already be done. Still, we do not need to despair. Way-smart people have some great thoughts on this matter. We should all take heed.

In The Poverty of Nations, Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus describe “79 factors that will lead a nation to prosperity.” You can read this book (it’s on my list), or you can read this summary article on the Crossway blog. And if you don’t even want to read that (lazy!), just know that the main take-away is “work hard.”

Or, as a friend (who has read this book twice) notes, “The phrase repeated continually throughout the book is ‘a nation must produce more than it consumes.'”

Seriously. Read the book, or the article.

Another Option

Are 79 factors too much for you? Than you may prefer this video of Dr. Jay Richards. He boils down those 79 factors into 10 tough steps to ending poverty. (The video is 90 minutes long — 60 minutes of his lecture, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. It’s totally worth it.)

I didn’t agree with all of his ideas. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. I like being challenged with new ideas, to help me either to confirm what I believe or to grow in my knowledge.

Here are Dr. Richards’ principal requirements for a nation to be prosperous:

  1. Rule of law
  2. Government must focus only on maintaining the rule of law
  3. Property ownership that is accessible and consistent
  4. Economic freedom and free-trade
  5. Stable families and other important private institutions
  6. A belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense
  7. The right cultural mores (delayed gratification, willingness to risk, respect others, etc)
  8. A proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty
  9. A focus on your comparative advantage
  10. Hard work

My other main take-aways from this presentation:

  • Get away from continuous foreign aid, although “aid can help around the edges” (idea of the poor gleaning from fields in the Old Testament).
  • “People get wealthy in a free society largely by serving other people, by producing things for other people that they want and that they’ll buy.”
  • “The number one predictor of childhood poverty in America is whether the father lives in his home or not.” (see principle #5)
  • These 10 principles are all immaterial things, and not based on a nation’s access to natural resources.

Dr. Richards makes a good case that these principles apply at all levels — from whole nations to smaller communities. Which, for example, explains why Nasha Lending is working to enable individuals to become producers.

And remember, all these ideas are worth nothing unless we mobilize ourselves to put them into action.
Related Links:

**image courtesy of siewlian via

First Fund: Accelerating Children to Higher Education

firstfund scholarshipfirstfund 3thingsfirstfund financial





I was working as an in-school tutor (when we lived in Allendale), assisting in math and reading remediation. One second grade boy had been having some significant behavior issues, and the teacher asked me to talk to him in the hallway.

Not wanting to dive right into his behavior problems, I asked him some “warm-up” questions, such as what he likes to do and his favorite foods. But I was shocked by his answer when I asked where he wants to go to college.

I would have understood if he said, “I don’t know.” But he did know. He had an exact answer to this question.

Click here to read exactly why he was sure…

Mission: God’s Gospel and Our Culture

godskingdom gospel_project

Some reading that should get your thoughts going . . .

Mission and the Kingdom of God (Ed Stetzer).  God’s mission (and ours) is about sharing the truth about Jesus AND alleviating needs. For more, see Why Did Jesus Come to Earth.

Turning Our Backs (Jordan Weissmann).  Welfare is growing, but it is shrinking for those who need it the most.

Letter to a Future Black Man (Yed Anikpo).  Four important truths as we reflect on tragedy and injustice. The first is “Repent or perish.”

 9 Ways to Find a Movie’s Worldview of Redemption (Brian Godawa, via Justin Taylor).  A very helpful guide, and can be coupled with John Frame’s 12 Questions to Ask When Viewing a Film.

The Christian Life All Boils Down to This One Question (Halim Suh).  “Do I believe that Jesus is better?” See the video below for an explanation.

I hope you are challenged and encouraged, every day.