Remembering the Poor

Shruti Rajkumar   |   December 30, 2015 


“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Mahatma Gandhi

According to Harsh Mander, an author and activist, seventy percent of India is poor. “India’s poor face many exiles. They are exiled from the consciences of the people of privilege and wealth. They are exiled from our cinema, television and newspapers. They are exiled from the priorities of public expenditure and governments. They are exiled from debates in Parliament and offices. They are exiled from institutions that could offer them some basic security through education, healthcare and social security. And they are exiled from the hope that their children or their grandchildren will one day escape a life of backbreaking toil and social humiliation. This last is the most profound of their exiles,” he says in his book, Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India.

Our collective indifference and lack of empathy contributes to the oppression of the poor.

In his book Community and Growth, author and founder of L’Arche movement, Jean Vanier says, “Jesus is the starving, the parched, the prisoner, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the dying. Jesus is the oppressed, the poor. To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus.”

I have been thinking about what our responses to the poor should be. It is scary to read something like this and realise how far I am from helping those in need. I can sometimes feel quite helpless when I meet them begging at my car window.

Everyday on my way to work I meet a family from Rajasthan at a traffic light. I’ve sometimes had the opportunity to chat with the children and women. The other day one of the little girls was eating a small piece of orange while she was talking with me. I could tell she was trying to make it last as long as she could. She and her sister asked me to bring them blankets the next time we met.

This year, our church decided to collect warm clothes to give away to those living on the streets as a small way of helping people in need. We were able to get the Rajasthani family a few blankets and give the clothes to two different organisations working with the poor in the city.

While these are small gestures I think it is necessary for us to start somewhere. We can no longer afford to look away. We have an opportunity to participate in the healing of our city. We can do this for our city because He has already done this for us.

The birth of Christ reminds us how Jesus entered the world in poverty and vulnerability. He became poor for us so we can be rescued from the allure of riches and remember the poor as we see His face in them. The poor are close to God’s heart and therefore must be close to ours. As our hearts are turned to Jesus, may our hearts be turned to the poor.

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honours Him.” Proverbs 14:31


Photo Credit: Hamed Parham via Flickr cc

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Shruti Rajkumar

Shruti Rajkumar lives in the chaotic, beautiful city of New Delhi. She is currently studying to become a family therapist whilst being a mother to a little girl and partnering with her husband in the church they have planted. In her free time she enjoys shopping in Sarojini Market, reading and hanging out with friends.'

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One comment on “Remembering the Poor”

  1. Thanks Shruti for your article on remembering the poor. I had worked on a response to the poor and we initiated this concept through World Vision India. The idea is very simple. It is about each Christian Family, 'adopting' one family in their neighbourhood? It could even be their maid or someone else with whom they interact with almost on a daily basis. Adopt in the sense of becoming a true friend to this family. The same concept to be extended to the local church, where each local church 'adopts' two, three, five ... families in the neighbourhood of the church. The church becomes a friend to these families. We have begun to see this concept beginning to take root in about 150 churches across the country. The results are awesome. This has been seen as a sustainable model of a response to poverty, since there is no need for external funding. The family/local church shares what they have with the poor.

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