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Hunger and poverty in Africa

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The agency claimed that freshly marked graves of children under five who had succumbed to starvation dotted the hill-side. Looking at the statistics above, it becomes clear that hunger poverty and hunger are real life problems that need immediate attention. Even though much has been done, more remains in order to combat the problem of food security. However, from a biblical perspective, one needs to ask: what is being done? What does the Bible say about poverty and hunger? What directions does it give? If one were to inquire from the contemporary Christian on whether it is just to help the poor, the answer would clearly be in the affirmative; albeit, not in all cases.

However, even though many Christians feel obligated to help the poor and hungry, many do not always help. They will cite the bible and declare verses that guide their decision not to help. There are biblical passages that some people will cite as grounds for not assisting those in the struggle for existence. Is poverty a result of laziness? In many African nations, when one walks around the streets of major towns and even in the rural areas, there are many people begging for cash hand-outs and food.

These people are often regarded as lacking enthusiasm to work. A person who holds this view will cite verses in the holy scriptures to confirm their views. Many people will refer to the book of proverbs and support their viewpoint. Proverbs chapter ten, verse fourteen is one such verse: ‘He who has a lazy hand becomes poor, But the hand of the hard-working makes rich (The Holy Bible: New King James Version, Prov 10:14)’.

Whereas this verse may prove true to some extent, poverty is not caused by laziness only, especially in Africa as we have seen earlier. Proverbs 28:19 is another favourite verse for the Christian who abstains from helping the poor. It states that ‘He who tills his land will have ample bread, But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough (The Holy Bible: New King James Version, Prov 28:19)’. Frivolity in this context means worthless pursuits. This is a vivid picture in many parts of Africa where gambling is perceived as a quick way to riches.

On the contrary, it leads many to the direct opposite; abject poverty. However, this does not summarize the frivolity as the sole cause or a constituent of the causes of poverty in Africa. There still exists many people who work hard to earn a living, but still do not get enough to see them rise above the poverty line. In this regard, therefore, the verse might be proven incorrect.

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