The Spirit of Poverty: Freeing Hearts and Minds
It is easy to understand that poverty is physically defined by lack or need. Someone needs food but doesn’t have any. Someone needs medicine but cannot access it. Someone needs an education but has to work instead. These are things we intuitively understand about poverty. And yet, there is a side to poverty that is unseen, and if you have never experienced true poverty yourself, it may be hard to understand: the spirit of poverty.
Breaking the spirit of poverty begins with understanding what it is and how it infects every part of a person’s life. George Orwell’s first full-length published book was about his time in Paris and London when he had next to no money and was even a tramp for a while. The first thing he observed was that “when running dangerously short on cash, without money for food or rent, … poverty completely eradicates the future. In other words, one no longer cares about their career in five years’ time, their child’s future education, or any forward-thinking notions such as insurance. To survive the day and have some money for food … for tomorrow is as far as one can plan.”
The signs of spirit of poverty include low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, suicidal thoughts and more. When someone is accustomed to having nothing all day, every day, they begin to think that they do not deserve anything, that there is something about them personally that makes them unqualified for a different kind of life.
In addition to the mental and emotional toll, poverty also impacts a person’s brain. In a study by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, researchers noted that when a person is in a constant state of stress from poverty, parts of their brain required for decision-making do not properly develop. Toxic stress (any prolonged unnatural stress) for a child “hijacks attention, drowns focus and impairs judgement.” And for parents, the same stress will affect their ability to be a sufficient caregiver.
Not only are those in poverty struggling to physically survive, but their minds are fighting a battle on every front. This is the spirit of poverty: a pervasive cloud of hopelessness, stress, fatigue and fogginess. According to the World Bank, more than 700 million people (many of them children) are living in extreme poverty. With these staggering statistics and heartbreaking realities, we need to ask, “What are some solutions to poverty?” one solution includes provision of income generating animals.
Pastor Danil has seen firsthand one of the proven ways to help those in poverty. During his 14 years in the field with GFA World, Pastor Danil saw that the people he ministered to wanted dignity, hope and a future. He could help give them this through GFA’s Gift Catalog Program.
GFA reports, “He’s given men and women cows, water buffalo, goats and piglets to help them earn more income. He’s provided bicycles to help people transport firewood to the market, saving them long, strenuous hours on foot. He’s supplied hardworking farmers with water pumps to irrigate and cultivate their land, helping yield a more abundant harvest.”
One woman was supplied a cow through GFA’s catalog gift option. The cow had calves and produced milk, which led to new income to help stabilize her family’s life. “The cow has been a great blessing to me and my family,” she says. “Today my financial condition is far better, and I am less stressed because of the profit I am making selling the milk and the cows.” With less stress, she can start to turn her attention to other people and to the future.
We may not see the gift of a cow or chickens as a bridge to the future, but for those living in poverty, it is just what they need to secure an income stream and a new way of life. With a business to care for that produces something people need, those in poverty can regain their dignity and hope.
You can be the one to donate for cows, water buffalo, chickens and more. Then GFA missionaries like Pastor Danil can be looking for the next person who could benefit from a farm animal to begin a business or supplement their income.
Take some time to pray through the GFA gift catalog. There are other items to consider, as well, that will give someone a chance at breaking free from the mindsets, stresses and physical ailments that come with poverty. Ask God which one he wants to use in someone’s life, and then make your donation today. Ask God to richly bless and multiply your gift for the person or family receiving it.
Pastor Danil is one of many GFA missionaries watching and waiting for the moment they can connect someone in poverty with a gift from someone like you. What a blessing for everyone involved when the gift is given!Learn more about what is the cycle of poverty
 “The Poverty Mindset: How Poverty Impacts Our Way of Seeing the World.” YouthTime Magazine. November 18, 2020. https://youthtimemag.com/the-poverty-mindset-how-poverty-impacts-our-way-of-seeing-the-world/#:~:text=Having%20been%20raised%20in%20poverty,changes%20one’s%20perspective%20as%20well.
 Fell, Ben, and Miles Hewstone. 2016. “Psychological Perspectives on Poverty.” Joseph Rowntree Foundation. January 28, 2016. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/psychological-perspectives-poverty.
 “Poverty and Mindsets.” European Commission. February 2022. https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2022-02/l_cassio_presentation.pdf.
 “Poverty: Overview.” World Bank. Last updated November 2022. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview.
 “A Heart Burdened for His People.” GFA World. July 2015. https://www.gfa.org/gfa-world/2015/a-heart-burdened-for-his-people/.