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God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power & the Kingdom of God Paperback – December, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: World Vision Intl (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887983139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887983136
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,242,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Thomas Scarborough on May 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jayakumar Christian, in God Of The Empty-Handed, takes a vast and meticulously researched sweep over the problem of global poverty - both from a secular and from a Christian point of view. One of Christian's themes is that the world has not been winning against poverty - neither on the secular level, nor through the Church. While many inroads have been made, nevertheless there has been widespread regression as a whole. He casts his net wide in describing ways in which humanity - both secular society and Christ's Church - has sought to remedy the problem of poverty. One wonders whether any options remain to be considered.

Throughout the book, Christian builds the argument that poverty essentially has to do with power - the "power that keeps the poor powerless". However, he does not adopt any of the major theories of "power creation". Rather, he holds that the non-poor "seek to play god in the lives of the poor", to form what he refers to as "god-complexes", thereby systematically excluding the poor from access to education, wealth, and benefits from the system. These complexes are not merely "inner spiritualities", but "principalities and powers [...] considered personal beings that have dominating influence on persons, social organizations and groups, and structures".

It is through his focus on principalities and powers as "personal beings" that Christian seeks to integrate evangelism and social action. The mission of the Church is to confront principalities and powers in all their multifarious activities, whether it be to blind the minds of those who do not believe, or to oppress those who are in poverty. This having been said, however, we are only human, and these are principalities and powers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John T. Henry on May 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
For the past 19 years, I have been mobilizing students to serve the Poor. As I read this book I was challenged to understand several keys to ministry among the poor. I'm convinced these key principles are important for most church ministries. That is why I recommend this book to you.

Key #1: Knowing Who Are the Poor.

Jesus said: "The poor will always be with you". Jayakumar Christian says that the Poor are caught in a web of relationships. Robert Chambers writes, "poverty is entanglement". That is to say, they are caught in a web of systems; they have a lack of power, materials, choices, relationships, and influence. Donald McGavran contends that the Poor are exempt from experiencing transformation until they have all been saved: "The only place large social action is possible is in countries where the majority of the population are members of Christ's Church." (p. 78) Most missionary agencies today take this perspective into their ministry approaches. What do you think? Is poverty caused by sin? Is it the sin of others? Is poverty caused by the sin of the Poor? At what point are the Poor set free from the cycle of poverty? The Poor are living on bare subsistence; no savings, no investments, no opportunity for technological improvements, and therefore no income increase. The Poor are set free when they gain understanding of their identity in God and discover their calling in God.

Key #2: Kingdom View of the Poor.

Ministries of the church, whether intentional or not, reflect the church's view of the poor and the nature of poverty. Too often our outreach unintentionally communicates: "We are complete, you are not." The goal of outreach should be to recover the identity of the poor in relation to God's creative design and purpose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Hopping on June 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jayakumar Christian is the Associate Director of World Vision India who has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary as well as a few Masters degrees in Social Work, Missiology, and Divinity.

In a nutshell, when Jayakumar writes about "Poverty, Power and The Kingdom of God" (the book subtitle) - he knows what his talking about.

His book, "God Of The Empty-Handed", is divided into three parts:

1) "Learning for History" is a look at the different ways people have defined `poverty' and the underline assumptions that led to that definition. For example, are those who are poor, poor because of a lack of resources? Training? Maybe they are just backwards?

The best part about this selection is Jayakumar analysis of each view - the pros, cons and the real life results. He pulls no punches - tackling views from economists, politicians, relief workers, and theologians with equal vigor and intelligence.

2) The second part, "Learning from the Poor," is a challenge to the reader to look at reality through the eyes of the poor. Jayakumar draws heavily on the concept of "power' - do those in poverty have the power to change their lifestyle? To pursue their dreams? To work?

We here in the West might not think about it - but for most of world, their lives are controlled by forces outside of their control: economically, politically, socially, religious....

3) The last selection of the book is entitled "Learning About The Kingdom of God". This is where Jayakumar proposes another way of tackling the issue of poverty across the world. This is a very powerful selection that can not be re-created here....
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