The Conference Ministry with the Poor Operational Team sponsored a “poverty simulation” held at Gardendale/Mt. Vernon UMC on Feb. 27, 2016.
The Poverty Simulation was an opportunity to experience some of the challenges and frustrations faced everyday by people living in poverty. Dozens of participants were given roles to play that varied from “single mother” to “injured and laid off worker”, from "elderly and on fixed income” to “divorced with no child support”, and even an “individual with a new expensive home but the sole income spouse died suddenly without life insurance”. The participants were then given the responsibility to secure resources to meet their basic needs – such as shelter, food and childcare. The participants then interacted with volunteers who played the role of resource providers. To complicate matters, the very people who were supposed to help the people in distress could be uncaring or lack the training to adequately do their jobs.
At the end of the event, participants were able to return to their lives with new insight as to how difficult life in poverty truly can be. They, for a short time, were able to experience how unreliable childcare, dealing with charities or government aid or having responsibility for children or elderly parents can become overwhelming when living in financial distress.
John Wesley had to be convinced to reach out to the poor and needy and perhaps we do too.
The North Alabama Conference is recapturing the vision that our Conference priority of Ministry With the Poor benefits all God’s Children. The Church can gain as much or more from being in ministry with the poor than the person who is struggling with economic issues.
There will be other Poverty Simulations in the North Alabama Conference coming up. You are encouraged to attend one held near you and see the world in a new way.
The Conference Ministry with the Poor Operational Team is also working to recruit and prepare leaders to work with “at need” congregations. If you have a calling to explore ministry with the poor, please contact your District Superintendent
or the Conference Office to learn more about upcoming plans and opportunities.