by Rick Painter, NLS
Harvey. Irma. Maria. Names that now bring unsettling realities. Lives were lost. Property was destroyed. Local economies were devastated. The storms directly hit portions of the continental United States, but the impact is nationwide. We saw the pictures and heard the stories and we were moved to respond to help those struggling to survive and get their lives back to normal.
But there is another type of storm that we have not noticed! It isn’t in the media and it doesn’t create the national outcry like a hurricane, but it is a national disaster leaving millions struggling for survival and for some form of “normal”. That “storm” is the complexity and pain that many in our local community face daily. You see the victims, but you probably don’t see the “storm”. When we first started looking at how to help low income individuals and families get out of the government dependency trap, we thought the way many people do. We thought, “If we get them a job, they can escape poverty and become self-supporting citizens”. But then we looked closer. We saw a much more complex problem than we realized, even after years of working with Medicaid recipients. Trying to describe the problem, the picture of a hurricane came to mind.
As we saw with Harvey and Irma, the dangers and difficulties of hurricanes are complex and interrelated. Each element, the wind, rain, storm surge, and debris is a specific danger, but together they intensify the risks. You can’t just deal with one issue and be safe and protected.
Those who are dependent on government support face a similar “storm”. They may want to get off the system, but they are facing a combination of interacting elements. If they get a job and earn a low income, they can lose housing assistance, food stamps, or other government benefits almost immediately. In other words, they start working and it costs them almost as much or maybe even more than they earn. And that is IF they have job skills and can get a job!
If you have ever filled out a job application, think about what it requires. If you don’t complete it, you simply don’t get the job. What if you dropped out of school? What if you got into legal trouble when you were younger? What if you can’t read and understand the application? What if you haven’t held a job in over 10 years? How many professional or work related references do you have to have? Do you have reliable transportation? What about job skills or experience? Remember: blanks on a application usually cause automatic rejection. Suppose you get the job. What if you are a single parent with young children? What if you battle a mental illness like depression or anxiety? What if you don’t have appropriate clothes for an interview or even for the job?
Each question is an “element” in the “storm”. How can you deal with even half of them on your own?
The storm is raging. Many want to get out of it, but can’t find their way.
What can you do? What will you do?
New LifeScape Ministry is about calling the body of Christ to respond as His Body. Moved by compassion, equipped by being trained in Scripture, mental health, and government programs, organizedto provide intentional, personalized help to those who want to change their lives, the Body of Christ can change the lives of individuals and families, both now and in the future. We are salt and light!
Calling God’s Body to action,