Eradicating poverty might seem like an insurmountable task, yet a huge impact has already been made—and you can help.

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Addressing the Challenges of Poverty

As such a devastating, multi-generational issue, it's vital that childhood poverty is taken seriously and addressed to produce better outcomes for children.

Ending poverty is the top goal of the United Nations and a target has been set for 2030 to eradicate extreme poverty, defined as living on less than US$1.25 per day (elsewhere as US$1.90 a day). Progress is continuing to be made in the right direction, but global crises such as COVID-19 are pushing more people in developing countries into poverty.1

How Does God Want Us to Respond?

God loves all children and it's clear from His Word to us that He cares greatly for the poor and vulnerable. In Deuteronomy 10:17-18, one of God's defining characteristics is that he "defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing."

One of God's defining characteristics is that he "defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

When setting out the law for His people in the Old Testament, God commands them to care for those who are poor. He tells them not to take advantage of the fatherless (Exodus 22:22, Deuteronomy 24:17), to provide food for those who are in need (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) and to be generous towards them (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11, Leviticus 25:35). And in no uncertain terms, the apostles call us to be generous with our possessions (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, 1 John 3:17-18) and to look after the vulnerable (James 1:27).

But if poverty is primarily a relational problem caused by sin, then there is only one true answer: Jesus. It is Jesus who holds all things together (Colossians 1:16-17) and it is only Jesus who can reconcile all things (Colossians 1:20) through his death and resurrection, restoring those broken relationships.

Jesus emphasises the need for love and generosity towards all people (Mark 12:30-31), including children and the poor (Luke 12:33-34). We should—and must—live as our saviour lived and love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

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How You Can Help Right Now

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. " —1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)


As we've worked through this Poverty Explored blog series, we've learned more about what poverty is, what it looks like and the impact it can have on children in all areas of their life. As we've seen, poverty is not just economic, but a combination of a lack of resources, opportunities and education coupled with spiritual oppression and feelings of shame, inferiority and despair.

When asked about what it means to live in poverty, Orlando, a father of a Compassion assisted child in El Salvador explains: “I had to make the decision to go out and look for bottles among the trash to recycle and sell. At first, it was embarrassing, and I tried to go out with just one or two bags. People came out of their houses and stared at me, asking why I was poking around the trash. Many acquaintances at first looked down upon me.”

Understanding poverty gives us insight into not only why help is needed, but the sort of help. Learning about poverty moves us to act with compassion and to think less about our good deeds and more about loving others.


All the world is under God's care and so prayer is the most powerful tool available to us in all areas of life. Above, we saw that God cares deeply for those living in poverty, and so we can have confidence that when we call on Him, He will hear our prayers.

Consuelo, a mother of a Compassion assisted child in El Salvador, knows the importance of relying on God in poverty. “Physically, you have to learn to live restricted. Spiritually, it impacts you," she says. "You learn to put your strength in the Lord only, and to trust or depend just on being close to Him.”

If you already sponsor a child, praying for them is one of the best things you can do. If you give in other ways, or are looking to sponsor a child, you can still pray for the work of Compassion, other aid organisations and the local church as they serve their communities.


Your actions do make a difference—the lives of children are changing. You might remember in Part 1: What is Poverty? we heard about what poverty looked like in the lives of several children. Thanks to the impact of the local church, holistic development and generous donations from people just like you:

  • Esther could still afford to attend school.
  • Katerine was cared and provided for, restoring her emotionally and spiritually.
  • Ami's feet could heal in a new pair of shoes.
  • Yohanis' needs are provided for and he attends school.
  • Ronal knows his brother has the opportunity of a successful future.
  • Amuza discovered his own value and self-worth through those who cared for him.
  • Dayana feels encouraged and hopeful from the letters she receives from her sponsor.
  • Djamila could seek help from her Compassion project director and avoid becoming a child bride.

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Over the last quarter century, global poverty rates have been on a steady decline. However, it has fallen at a faster rate for adults than children2 and the impact of COVID-19 is threatening to increase the international poverty line for the first time since 1998.3

The World Bank reported that COVID-19 has led to 97 million more people being in poverty in 2020, and increases are expected throughout 2021 for developing countries.4 As a result, there is still a need for programs funded by generous donors to help people living in poverty, perhaps now more than ever.

In Part 3 of this blog series, we explored how holistic development and child sponsorship can make a real difference in reducing poverty. You can sponsor a child or give to Critical Needs like disaster relief, education, water and sanitation, highly vulnerable children and mothers and babies today.

Not only does sponsorship provide the local church with the resources they need to care for children in their community, it gives each child the opportunity to connect with a sponsor and develop a long-lasting relationship that brings encouragement to both.

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In the Philippines, 17-year-old Jessel grew up without her biological father, then lost her mother to kidney failure in her early teens.

“Even today, I still cry and feel the pain of her loss,” Jessel admits. “I used to not cry a lot in public, but today I well up easily whenever I remember my mother. I try to show people that I’m strong, but deep inside I feel so weak.”

Yet connection with her local child development centre and sponsor brought her hope. "My being a sponsored child has drawn me closer to God more and more each day. I am deeply blessed to be part of this sponsorship. I learned that there is a God who will never leave me.”

She is also grateful to her sponsor and for being continuously asked by them about her goals in life. “They always ask me what I would become in the future." Jessel says. "And it keeps me going and believing in myself that I can always reach my dream by the help of our Lord.”

Make an impact for children living in poverty and give hope that points others to Jesus, the source of true restoration.

Make an impact for children living in poverty and give hope that points others to Jesus, the source of true restoration.

Words by Andrew Barker and field reporting by Edwin Estioko.

1 United Nations (n.d.). Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

2 United Nations Children's Fund (2020, October 20). 1 in 6 children lives in extreme poverty, World Bank-UNICEF analysis shows.

3 World Bank (2020). Poverty and Shared Prosperity: Reversals of Fortune Overview.

4 World Bank (2021). Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty: Turning the corner on the pandemic in 2021?