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Keep up to date with all our latest news from across the globe...

LATEST NEWS

THE CAUSE: Addressing Trafficking and Exploitation in SE Asia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(28).pngCambodia is a nation facing overwhelming problems of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. It serves as an origin, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking in persons, commonly for the purpose of commercial sex work. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Founded in 2005, ACCI Partner Chab Dai works in Cambodia to address trafficking abuse and exploitation through NGO collaboration and informed practice. Chab Dai currently has 50 faith-based member organisations who all work towards addressing this issue, and who are supported by Chab Dai to build their capacity and work towards best practice. By investing into these organisations Chab Dai is assisting to raise the level of care provided to survivors and those at risk of being trafficked or exploited. 

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THE CAUSE: Zaabu 'Gold' Group for Women

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(27).pngCOME Uganda is a ministry run by ACCI Associate Field Workers Frank & Michelle Heywood. In 2009, COME Uganda started the Gold group, a self-help group for women who are HIV-positive.

There are well accepted and globally documented links between gender inequality and HIV transmission. In Uganda, gender norms that endorse unequal power relationships between men and women significantly increase women’s risk of HIV transmission. Early marriages, gender based violence, and women’s low economic power, which can lead to women engaging in high-risk behaviour such as transactional sex for survival, are all such examples. 

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THE CAUSE: Holistic Development, Action Overseas


-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(26).pngMen are like gold and women are like white cloth’.

This well-known Cambodian proverb captures something of the gender disparity that continues to oppress millions of women in the country. Gold, no matter how tarnished it becomes, can be easily cleaned, polished and restored to its original value. White cloth however, once stained is ruined. For a single Cambodian woman the stains that render her worthless in her culture’s eyes refer to the shame of sexual impurity. When a single woman finds herself pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, she is often shunned, rejected by her family, and left alone with little means of support. Many single women facing a crisis pregnancy not only experience gender disparity in society’s rejection of them, but their pregnancy is often the result of gender based violence such as sexual assault and trafficking. 

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THE CAUSE: Holistic Development Part 2

blog0042.pngIt is well recognised that men and women do not benefit equally from development activities due to gender bias and inequality. Differing priorities and obstacles for women and men can greatly affect women’s involvement, reduce opportunity to benefit from programs and minimise potential leadership roles within their community.

Overwhelmingly, it is women rather than men who experience these gender-based forms of exclusion and discrimination. Without their voice, the way in which development priorities are determined becomes skewed, hampering efforts to achieve holistic change. 

Holistic change, by definition, needs to impact all of society at multiple levels - not just the dominant social group. Effective development and change requires an understanding of both women’s and men’s roles and responsibilities within the community and their relationships to each other (1). 

 

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Syrian Refugee Crisis: How to Help as a Church in Australia

a_guide_to_big_city_life___love..pngOctober  2015 - Information and guidance for ACC churches wishing to get ready to offer a welcome and assistance to Syrian refugees arriving in Australia.

Background

The escalating Syrian refugee crisis continues to make news headlines around the world and in recent weeks European countries have been gathering to discuss what they can do to assist.  Several countries have committed to increasing resettlement places for Syrian refugees.  On 6 September 2015 (then) Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia would consider how it could further assist Syrian refugees, including through resettlement.  As a consequence, it is expected that 12,000 refugees from Syria will be resettled in Australia, starting in the near future.

Churches in our movement are aware of the recent ACCI Relief appeal for funds to provide emergency relief, counselling, migrant assistance and other services to displaced families in transit countries, in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse.  Some are now asking what they can do to get ready to help refugees arriving in Australia.

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THE CAUSE: Holistic Development, An Impossible Goal if Half are Held Back

blog0039.png“One of the best ways to promote economic growth and to achieve stronger communities and societies is to empower women and girls.” Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Improving Economic Outcomes for Women, 2014.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:28-29

Here's a curious question - Why would it be that feminine-names hurricanes kill about twice as many people as similar-strength hurricanes with a male name?

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Nepal Update: September 2015

SUMMARY OF ACHIEVEMENTS

NEPAL_Blog.pngIn the last four months since the Nepal earthquake ACCI Relief in collaboration with our on the field partners have been able to achieve the following:  

  • 1,915 households have been provided with emergency supplies such as food and blankets.
  • 11 child friendly spaces have been established to prevent family separation and trafficking.
  • Over 6,000 vehicles have been stopped by volunteers at key checkpoints to check for children potentially being trafficked.  36 children have been identified and removed and these cases of trafficking are now before the courts.
  • 2,500 people in rural areas have received emergency medical treatment.
  • Over 400 earthquake victims have been treated at Anandaban Hospital in Kathmandu.
  • Over 3,500 people have received temporary housing assistance. 
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Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal

10975822305_5ba6288673_b.jpgWell over 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the start of the now four-year-old civil war. The war has killed over 200,000 people and millions have been left homeless and in desperate need of safety. Many families have no choice but to risk their lives to flee war and persecution. 
 
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are now streaming across Europe in hopes of building a new life. It is the largest refugee crisis of its kind in the region since the Second World War and has overwhelmed the capacity of countries along their path to respond. 
 
The conditions these refugee families face during the journey are very difficult. Along the route, many refugees have faced hostility and a lack of support with some forced to resort to journeying by foot and sleeping in public places. 
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THE CAUSE: Clean Water, A Foundation for Development

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(22).pngPositioned in the Mekong Region, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is endowed with a huge supply of river and rain-water, yet only 65% of the rural population has access to improved drinking water. Even water from improved water sources are frequently unsafe to drink to due faecal contamination at the water source and during collection, storage and use in the home.

Lao PDR is considered a least developed country, ranked by the Human Development Index as 138 out of 187 countries. With a population of 6.2 million people, 66% of people live on less the $2 USD per day. The under-five mortality rate is 54 deaths per 1000 children, more than double the average for East Asia and the Pacific (World Bank, 2010). Faced with so many challenges and limited resources, the Government of Laos has trouble delivering basic services to its poor and highly-dispersed population (AusAID, 2010). 

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Sri Lanka Update

ATKINSON_PHOTO.JPGIn today's blog we hear from Alison and Narel Atkinson (pictured with their 3 children) who are Field Workers serving in Sri Lanka. Inspired by women's conferences Alison has attended in Australia, Alison has seen her dream realised to start a National Women's Conference in Sri Lanka to minister to women from all over the country. Here she shares with us the journey of Alokaya Women's Conference.


ALOKAYA WOMEN’S CONFERENCE

Over the years I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend many of Hillsong’s Colour Conferences in Sydney. My life has been changed and empowered through the incredible guest speakers as they share the Father’s Heart. It was during one of these conferences, I clearly felt a real burden for the women of Sri Lanka. 

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THE CAUSE: Supporting Education in Vulnerable Communities


-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(21).pngLed by Field Workers Russell and Jenny Barton, Operation Uganda works with vulnerable children, their families and schools in communities throughout northern Uganda and in Kampala, the nation’s capital. Many families in these areas are living in extreme poverty, working as subsistence farmers or in unskilled jobs. The high level of poverty across these areas has many detrimental impacts on child health and development. 

While most policies, laws and standards designed to protect children in Uganda are up-to-date, implementation and enforcement remain weak throughout the country. Government officers for child welfare have been assigned to most areas, however due to a lack of resources, knowledge and training, most officers are ill-equipped or unable to implement the law for the benefit of children. The result is that social services, especially health and education, continue to be functionally weak and social protection is fragmented, with large vulnerable population groups not covered.

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THE CAUSE: Strengthening Instead of Replicating Social Services

Untitled_design_(48).pngHelpKids work with local and regional governments in Sri Lanka in the area of Child Welfare and Protection.

ACCI Field workers Narel & Alison Atkinson have seen incredible impact through their community based care for children in Sri Lanka. Together with their team, they oversee and run the operation of The HelpKids Centre, based near a large slum in Colombo.

The HelpKids Centre has provided early childhood education since 2006 to children who are living on the streets with their parents or who are from the surrounding slums. Their mission is to focus on the whole child by providing a secure, nurturing, and educational environment for children - a place for children to grow into responsible, considerate and contributing members of society. This project aims to uphold the rights of vulnerable children in Sri Lanka by keeping children in families and providing them access to education. Rather than operating in isolation to government services who share this same vision, HelpKids works in partnership. 

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THE CAUSE: Advocacy and Action in Australia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(2).png

ACTION IN AUSTRALIA

"Those who have enacted unjust policies are as good as dead, those who are always instituting unfair regulations, to keep the poor from getting fair treatment, and to deprive the oppressed among my people of justice, so that they can steal what widows own and loot what belongs to orphans." Isaiah 10:1-2


Tax evasion is an example of the kind of injustice described in Isaiah - a kind that prevents the poor from receiving fair treatment, and effectively steals from those most vulnerable. Injustice begins when God's creation order gives way to false hierarchy of human worth, which is the basis of inequality. When inequality invades systems and structures, they become sites of partiality and injustice that favour the powerful over the powerless. Poverty results and the cycle is self-perpetuated. Tax evasion demonstrates the extensive impacts that occur when injustice becomes systemic and forms biased economic practices.  

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RAISE: Madagascar Update

Although a little late in coming, everyone in Madagascar wishes to send their Easter greetings to you, their faithful sponsors, for whom they are incredibly grateful. We all so appreciate your continued support and generosity.

Over the Easter break, it was a great time for teachers and students to rest after an exceptional first term of hard work and effort by all.

With the self-paced learning implemented in the CLCs, students are expected to continually assess their progress and the staff have seen marked improvement in many students who are striving academically and motivating themselves to learn. The teachers have staff, the team feel confident they will be able to address issues and approach social interaction proactively and positively.

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THE CAUSE: Children in Families

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(1).pngMORE CRIPPING THAN CORRUPTION: Action Overseas, Children in Families

Another ACCI partner, Children In Families (CIF), is providing essential services to vulnerable children and families. This is an area where government resources are overstretched in trying to meet the many varied needs of different communities. CIF works to equip and strengthen families and communities to provide a nurturing environment for children, through family based care, community development and educational support.

They achieve this through the following program areas:

 

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Nepal Update: July 2015

NEPAL1.jpgUPDATE OF DISASTER SITUATION

  • Recently the Nepal Government has estimated that the earthquake has caused US$7 billion in damage and losses[1]
  • Providing adequate shelter for earthquake affected households still remains a key priority, as many families continue to live in makeshift housing that may not withstand the monsoon rains. As of the 21st of July, an estimated 59,400 people continue to shelter in 104 displacement sites[2].
  • It is now Nepal’s monsoon season, which has greatly increased the vulnerability of populations affected by the earthquake. An estimated 90 percent of earthquake-affected individuals live in areas at risk of floods and landslides[3].
  • The monsoonal rains, poor road conditions and frequent landslides continue to make providing assistance challenging.
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THE CAUSE: Serve Cambodia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(19).pngFor as long as tax evasion continues at its current scale, public services cannot provide reliable support to vulnerable populations. ACCI projects are dealing with the effects of tax evasion, as they partner with communities who lack sustainable health or education services, and who lack protection and support for various vulnerabilities.

In Cambodia, multinational companies take advantage of weak regulations around taxation and company law to simultaneously exploit the labour force and evade taxation. This significantly reduces the government’s capacity to provide critical medical and social services to its citizens, which has the most devastating effect on already vulnerable populations including women and children. 

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Harts for Africa

Greg on his way to the community meetingGreg and Kim Hart are ACCI fieldworkers serving in Mozambique, Africa where they are focused on biblical teaching and community development. Greg and Kim have seen the need to increase the depth of Christianity and one of the ways they do this is by going to the people in remote locations to run Bible Colleges where church leaders of all denominations can study together. 

In today's blog, Greg shares about a recent meeting he had with 29 members of a rural community, where he asked the question 'What would make your community a better place to live in?'

This is a community that we had a bible college in 3 years ago. This has helped with rapport in the community. They have told us of the way the bible college helped the community in various ways.

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THE CAUSE: More Crippling than Corruption - The Injustice of Tax Evasion


-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(18).png"The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have wronged the poor and needy; they have oppressed the foreigner who lives among them and denied them justice." 
Ezekiel 22:29

“Persons are what matter, but systems shape persons in profound ways. The structures and systems matter, but they’re not all important. We care about the systems because we care about persons.” Ron Sider, founder and President of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), author of Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger

Independent! Self-made! Creative genius! Yep, it’s nice to think of ourselves in this way, but is the idea of a totally self-made man an illusion? Close to it. This approach can overlook the more invisible support systems and external factors that make great achievements possible. 

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ONE DAY

Untitled_design_(34).pngWith the launch of the sixth year of ONE DAY, we speak with Ps Gerard Keehan from Globalheart Church about his involvement in the ONE DAY Campaign.

In December last year, Globalheart raised $56,670 for the ONE DAY Campaign, and to date, your church has given more than $150,000 to ONE DAY. It’s a phenomenal contribution - why do you think your church has jumped on board so readily, year after year?

Firstly, we take seriously that Jesus has called his church to practically care for others. We have given the ONE DAY offering clear focus across our services in the lead up to the weekend - ACCI media was so helpful for this. Part of that focus has been to illuminate people to the reality that so many people are suffering and that we as a church are called to do something about it.

Nearly 1 billion people today do not have access to clean water. One in four children are chronically undernourished. As a church we must not turn away. 

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THE CAUSE: Micro-Enterprise Offering a Pathway of Sustainable Change

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(16).pngWidespread poverty, gender inequalities, high fertility rates and low literacy levels are just some of the challenges faced in the Kabale community in Uganda. Kabale is also plagued by health problems including high rates of malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality. The average annual per capita income in Kabale District is estimated at US$150, with 86% of the population relying on subsistence farming. Without reliable income, men, women and children are much more vulnerable to become engaged in exploitative labour situations. There are about 2 million child workers in Uganda, who are engaged in labour rather than school attendance, typically due to the impacts of family and community poverty. 

ACCI’s on-field partner Victory Micro Enterprise (VIME) aim to increase the standard of living and alleviate poverty in the Kabale District of Uganda through maximising and encouraging personal and community development. The project provides training in business loan management, entrepreneurial skills, and stewardship. 

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RAISE Program

Untitled_design_(32).pngACCI Relief currently has 5 RAISE programs across the globe: Vietnam, Mozambique, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Kolkata. Three years ago ACCI Relief took a step away from the individual approach child sponsorship, and instead established our RAISE program. We believe that it takes a whole community to raise a child, and for this reason in order to support vulnerable children we work to strengthen and develop communities in which they live through the RAISE program. 

Broad issues that affect whole communities, such as limited access to water, limited educational opportunities, and a failing healthcare system often affect children the most. We see this in child mortality rates, malnutrition, and early entry into working life. These problems are best tackled at a community level in order to bring benefit to more children, rather than singling out children to address their individual needs in isolation from their community’s situation.

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THE CAUSE: Kampong Thom Vocational Training Project, Cambodia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(15).pngThose must vulnerable to labour exploitation are those with limited land tenure, education and limited local employment opportunities. Building safe and resilient communities, and developing skills for local livelihoods is an effective response to help address some of these vulnerabilities to exploitative labour that further entrenches poverty.

In today’s blog we look at how a community in Kampong Tham, Cambodia outworks this as they seek to address this vulnerability by finding ways for women to live in their communities, while also earning a viable income.

High unemployment rates in rural Cambodia, especially among women, can lead this vulnerable segment of the population to migrate to Phnom Penh in search of work. Here, they are at high risk of labour exploitation, either through factory work, the sex industry or other forms of dangerous labour that offer little pay or a realistic chance to escape poverty.

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ACCI Village Life

Untitled_design_(27).pngWe are so thankful for the support of many ACC churches across Australia who generously sow into ACCI Missions & Relief projects across the globe. Eternity Christian Church in WA is one of our valued contributors towards our Village Life Program in Cambodia. Today we ask Ps David Vicary three questions about his experience.

What is it about the Village Life program that you and your church really gravitate towards?

We love the holistic approach. Supporting community development through a local church in Cambodia means we end up meeting spiritual needs as well as physical. There are many great mission ventures that are purely humanitarian and others that are solely spiritual, neglecting real material needs. The Village Life model encompasses both!

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THE CAUSE: People Above Profits - Action in Australia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(14).png'Better to have a little with righteousness than to have abundant income without justice.' Proverbs 16:8

There are at least 27 million slaves worldwide. That’s roughly the combined population of Australia and New Zealand. Did you know that the lifestyle of an average Australian is likely sustained by more than 50 modern-day slaves? Whether they be in bonded labour, trafficked conditions or other forms of exploitation, their living conditions are equated to slavery. Find out more - including your own ‘slavery footprint’ at slaveryfootprint.org

CONSUMER

If you want to avoid buying brands and products that have exploitation in their supply chains, download the ‘Shop Ethical’ app. This is the most popular digital guide to ethical shopping in Australia. It shares the social and environmental record of companies behind the common brands you buy so you can make informed purchasing decisions.

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Nepal Update: June 2015

Untitled_design_(29).pngUPDATE OF DISASTER SITUATION

  • The death toll from the disaster has been revised to 8,659 deaths with 384 people still missing.
  • Over 500,000 houses have been destroyed and 269,000 damaged.
  • Some 95,100 people remain displaced. 374 sites continue to host people who are unable to return home.
  • Due to continuing aftershocks, many are still afraid to return to their homes and remain in makeshift tents.
  • Approximately 1 million children were unable to return to school when it reopened at the end of May. Over 30,000 classrooms are destroyed and 15,350 damaged.

 Statistics from UNOCHA Flash Appeal Revised Report, 29th of May

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THE CAUSE: Vietnam Case Study

THE_CAUSE-CASE_STUDY.pngMany of ACCI's programs provide vocational training, micro-enterprise opportunities and support to generate sustainable incomes. These avenues develop personal and community resilience, and provide people with viable alternatives to exploitative and unstable labour hire through:

  • Direct income generation opportunities that are dependent on local, rather than global markets, and
  • Access to skills that increase ability to secure fair and safe employment.

AOGWR Vietnam Pay-It-Forward Program: Local Income Generation Through Animal Husbandy

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Sarah Ardu - Seeing a Multiplying Movement of Disciples

Untitled_design_(30).pngSarah Ardu is an ACCI fieldworker having served in Cambodia since 1998. She is passionate about church planting and developing strategies for Church Multiplication Movements (CMM). She provides CMM training to the missionary community through the Jonathan Project, and to Cambodians through New Vision Movement. 

In today's blog post Sarah shares some of her highlights from her time on the field.

2014 was the year that a major milestone was reached on the road to seeing the Cambodia Dream become a reality. I now have 3rd generation disciples within 1 year of leading people to the Lord. This means that I led someone to the Lord and trained them to be a multiplying disciple. This new disciple then led someone to the Lord and trained them. And my disciple’s disciple led someone to the Lord and is training them to do the same all in less than 12 months. 

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THE CAUSE: People Above Profits: Saying No to Exploitation in Global Markets

BLOG_3_SQUARE.pngThere is abundant food in the field of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice. - Proverbs 13:23 

“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” - George Monbiot, SBS Investigative Journalist

In Vietnam, the average rural farmer works long hours. He or she produces two yields of rice each year, using natural rainfall and irrigation practices. Their hard work produces large quantities of grain as they try to meet both domestic and overseas demand. Yet despite high yields and a large export market, entrenched poverty remains for Vietnam’s farmers. The high cost of imported fertilizers and pesticides undermines profit from increased crop yields. The mechanisms and ‘middle men’ that sit between producer and consumer also chew away at profits, such as collectors, millers, exporters and retailers. At the end of each year, the typical farmer will have earned only US$300 (1) - less than one dollar per day. And yet, multiple times more of the profit margin is taken by wholesalers and retailers, who typically use their position to demand even lower prices from primary producers. 

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ACCI's Biblical Basis for Missions and Relief

BIBLICAL_BASIS_FOR_MISSIONS_AND_RELIEF.pngWe are called to participate in God’s redemptive plan and Christ’s mission of reconciliation.

The comprehensive scope of creation, sin and redemption is evident throughout the Biblical story and is central to our Biblical worldview. In the creation account we see God’s intention for all He created to live in harmony and peace. Creation shows humankind in right relationship with each other, with right self-image and in right relationship with the rest of creation. These right relationships are all held in perfect harmony through an undefiled primary relationship and intimacy with God.

Through the fall we see how all four of these relationships became sin affected and broken (Gen 3:11-24). The result of this disharmony was the emergence of human poverty, which is experienced as spiritual, physical, emotional/ psychological and social poverty. Humanity’s distorted image of themselves, and subsequent fractured relationships with each other, has led to inequality and injustice, which are the basis of all social disorders including material poverty. 

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