Join BFJN’s director, Ryan Scott McDonnell, as he blogs about his travels throughout India. During this trip, Ryan will be reflecting upon the four themes ofLazarus at the Gatein light of his experiences throughout the country.
For many reading this blog, living on less is a conscious choice you have made because the cultural expectations for lifestyle are unsustainable, either for your wallet, for the environment or because they happen at the expense of the poor.Lazarus at the Gatehelps participants examine their finances and identify one or more ways that they can change their spending habits to live on less. As my wife and I have made even small shifts in our consumption patterns, we’ve felt the blessing of increased ability to live generously towards those in need around us – both near and far away.
For the world’s poor, including much of India’s population, there isn’t a choice of living on less. It’s the only option. Poverty takes many forms (spiritual, economic, educational, social) but the lack of even basic education is leaving a generation behind.
I’ve spent my first few days in India with a Christian organization that, among other things, supports literacy training in various parts of the nation. I’ve seen first hand the abject poverty that is still the norm in India, despite huge strides forward for the nation economically.
India has the world’s largest illiterate population. At least 50-60% of the country’s rural population is illiterate. Possessing even basic literacy has the ability to exponentially advance the poor’s opportunities with this transitioning economy. When asked how the literacy program had benefited her, one of the recent graduates said that she could now read the bus schedule and travel to neighborhoods where she could earn more cleaning houses, thus doubling her income. Even small advances can have big results and result in increased choices.