USA (MNN) — Poverty is multifaceted. Lots of things keep it going: a lack of money, resources, cultural bias.
According to the World Bank, "poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being." While poverty is largely seen in monetary terms, it also refers to a lack of resources–whether or not people are able to obtain specific commodities: food, shelter, water, health care.
As the inability to obtain is prolonged, the cycle of poverty continues.
Poor parenting perpetuates poverty ,too. That's why it's the focus of a new initiative called ENGAGE: Equipping the Next Generation to Advance and Grow through Education, encouragement and example.
"It is a program that engages moms, asking them questions: 'What's hard? What's difficult for you?' and 'What do you see as solutions?'" says author and speaker Karol Ladd. She created ENGAGE in response to the staggering reality of poverty.
According to the 2013 Human Development Report, approximately 50% of the world's population–3 billion people–live on less than $2.50 per day. In the United States, the official poverty rate stands at 15%, and 46.2 million people are impoverished.
With the help of friends who came from impoverished backgrounds, Ladd built a parenting curriculum focusing on several areas of a child's development: mental, physical, social, spiritual, and emotional.
However, "ENGAGE is not just a program that comes in with a set curriculum of rules and 'here's how you do it,'" Ladd clarifies.
It's about discussions and group interaction. Women talk about values and the challenges they face, brainstorm solutions, and encourage each other.
"I always end with helping them figure out the action points: How can I encourage my child? How can I be an example to my child? How can I equip my child?" says Ladd.
Moms also learn about Christ and what it means to follow Him.
During the first lesson about education, "We began to talk about how important it is that God has given us this mind, and that we would use it for His glory," Ladd states.
"We continued to build…pointing to God just naturally through the lesson."
Ladd then started incorporating examples of people in history who lived out the value discussed during the week.
"I look for a Christian example, so I'm pointing not only to their example of integrity or their example of education, but I'm also pointing to their example of their love for the Lord," Ladd explains.
She says this methodology is making the Gospel easier for women to understand. As a result, many women began going to church and several re-committed their lives to Christ. Some became new believers, and one woman was baptized.
They told Ladd, "Miss Karol, we have decided to follow Jesus, and our lives have changed! We are going to do things differently now."
Pray that more women would be drawn to Christ through ENGAGE.
Buckner International recently came alongside ENGAGE in Dallas. We'll hear what they experienced in the upcoming days.