SOUTH SHORE, Ky. — Sean Shroll, pastor of South Shore First United Methodist Church, 950 Main St. in South Shore is being proactive about the ensuing issue of local poverty. A six video series regarding poverty is currently underway at the church.
Shroll said the recent focus on poverty began with a book entitled, ‘When Helping Hurts.’
“There was a book written I believe is entitled, ‘When Helping Hurts,’ and there is a church called Life Church, and I am not even aware of their background information, they shared the information in that book in six YouTube videos that they were using to provide training, I guess at their churches. They made it available on YouTube for anybody to use,” Shroll said.
He later learned of a six video series on Youtube, which is the basis for their current discussions on poverty at the church.
“Through our Methodist partnership, we do work with folks over in Africa and my father had been reading through that book, and was really intrigued by it,” Shroll said. “So, when we found out that the book was a bit hard to follow, but with the video series, they are just short, 12 to 16 minute videos that helps people with their worldview in terms of what poverty is, how we answer that question, how important that is, and how we go about solving it, and how we go about working with those who are in poverty.We just started last week, and what we are doing is taking those six videos and doing a Sunday School class bases around them,” Shroll said. “We go through the videos, and take time for a discussion.”
The Daily Times spoke with Raymond, who would not give his last name. Raymond frequents the streets of Portsmouth, asking people for money. When asked why he goes out to the streets asking for money, Raymond said he does it because he cannot find employment.
“I do put in applications. I have put applications in a lot of local places and I never hear back, or get a call from them,”Raymond said. “I don’t know what the other ones are doing this for, but I really need the help.”
Being proactive is something churches are instructed to do through biblical teaching, according to Shroll, and adopting the appropriate worldview as it relates to poverty is paramount.
“I think that scripture calls us to be involved. I think where we have oftentimes gone wrong is, we really don’t understand the problem very well,” Shroll said. “So, Richard Sterns, who works with World Vision, came out with a book called, ‘The Hole in Your Gospel,’ and he talks about how people often think about people’s lack of material things as the core of poverty. And what (Sterns) would say is really it is a lack of opportunity as much as it is anything else.”
People who are impoverished say the problem is more relational than anything else.
“His theory even goes a little deeper than that, and says that out of the nine out of 10 people that they talk to that are impoverished, when they ask them what they think poverty is, it has a lot more to do with relationships, saying that they don’t have a voice, that they are looked down upon, there is a lot of shame, we can’t get any help,” Shroll said. “So sure, there is a material component to it, but it runs a lot deeper than that.”
The first video points to the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis and the fall of mankind.
“In the first video it goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis, where mankind has a broken relationship with God with the fall of man,” Shroll said. “You have these broken relationships with God, broken relationships with other people, a a broken relationship with yourself in the sense of who God really meant you to be, and that image has been marred.”
He said teachings in the video thus far are aligned with his own thinking.
“So far, with this video series, it reflects a lot of my thinking too. The problem is really so much deeper than just handing out things, because realistically, we are not really helping anything in the long term,” Shroll said. “We are probably not realistically dealing with the real issues. Sure God wants us to help out with the material things, but we must do that wisely, with good stewardship and really loving people. So, there is the need to realize that there is more going on here that we need to address.”
SSFUMC video-viewing and discussion on poverty convenes Sundays from 10-10:30 a.m., and every is invited to come and participate, according to Shroll.
Raymond is a local panhandler in Portsmouth.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.