Although there are many economic, social and moral reasons for running a microfinance organisation specifically for unemployed people, people from disadvantaged or financially excluded groups and people at the poorer end of society, this Blog is more personal and sets out the reasons behind why I started Purple Shoots and what motivates me to get out of bed and launch into another day of work.
Whilst Purple Shoots is wide open to helping people of all races, culture and systems of belief, the fact is that I am a Christian and my primary reason for establishing Purple Shoots was based on my belief that the God who I follow is deeply concerned about the world He created and in particular, is concerned about poverty and injustice.
According to the Gospels, the first words Jesus said when he began His public ministry were a quote from the Old Testament book of Isaiah in Luke 4v21:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because He has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind
to release the oppressed
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Jesus stated right at the start of His ministry His concern for the disadvantaged in society. In fact the Bible is full of teaching on wealth and poverty – it is one of the most central themes in it. In the New Testament, there are more than 500 verses of direct teaching on the subject (I didn’t count them up – the numbers are from someone else’s research) – that is one in every 16 – and that doesn’t include indirect teaching from New Testament doctrines and the actions of Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus talked more about wealth and poverty than almost any other subject. One in every 10 verses in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is about the rich and the poor; in Luke the ratio is one to 7. The subject also pervades the Old Testament – some suggest it is the second most common topic found there. The book of Isaiah, quoted by Jesus, was written at a time when the nation of Israel was comfortably prosperous but had allowed a growing divide between rich and poor, a desperately unequal society, rather like the UK today – and is full of exhortations from God for the leaders to do something about it.
Here are a couple of the many hundreds of verses in the Old Testament about our responsibility to do something about poverty and injustice in our societies:
And what does Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.”
I could go on – but the unavoidable conclusion is that money, possessions and the poor is hardly a casual concern for God – and as His people it can’t be a casual concern for Christians either.
I have always had a strong awareness whenever I look at the issues around me that God is saying (to me – but not just to me) “I gave you the responsibility …do something.” And so Purple Shoots is what I have done. But not without a number of “miracles” on the way – impossible obstacles overcome, finance from unexpected sources, support from a myriad of good people – all indicating to me that this is something God is in, and that is what drives me forward. There are disappointments, frustrations, set backs – and sometimes stress and exhaustion - but the demand is huge and the successes are great to see so there is a pressing need to keep going. The secret seems to be to hold onto the vision and to hold onto the God who cares about the people I’m seeking to help more than I can.