Blog Post

Seeing Poverty Through a New Lens

Laurie Rachford is one sharp cookie. As a career corporate attorney, she deals in high risk, high finance, and with highly educated people. Laurie knows she is hardwired for work and it has shaped her personal values. Biblically, she is encouraged by God’s command to work hard for six days and rest on the seventh (Exodus 23:12). Laurie knows how blessed she is to have a good education, the opportunity to make a good living, and to own her time. She is passionate for others to reap the rewards of diligence and hard work. Her heart connects with those on the opposite end of the economic and educational spectrum. That is why her exposure to the missional strategy of “dignity through work” has made an impact on her giving of time, talent, and treasure.

Finding Hope in an Unlikely Place
In 2009, a friend invited Laurie along on a vision trip to the Dominican Republic with Hope International. Laurie had given to Hope because it is gospel-based and dignity-building, and she was curious to see the impact of microfinance with a spiritual foundation. It wasn’t an easy decision to go, but she trusted her friend’s research and investment in Hope. Plus, she knew if her friend could endure and enjoy a bare-bones amenities experience, so could she. Sometimes it takes an uncomfortable situation to experience the Holy Spirit’s comfort.

As an avid photographer, Laurie often finds herself removed from situations through the barrier of a camera lens. But on this trip, Laurie was drawn in. She saw poverty through a whole new lens. Laurie says, “The poverty I’ve seen in the U.S. includes lots of ‘stuff, programs, and resources’ but my eyes were opened to the poverty of having absolutely nothing.” In contrast, she was delighted by the community that developed when people have only each other to enjoy. “The people I met were joyful and interconnected,” Laurie remembers.

She felt the energy created through the Jesus-focused, community-building, and business-targeted work of micro-enterprise. As she sat in on a small banking meeting, the realities of the interdependent societal connections were evident. Those who had loans work hard to repay them. Accountability is high, and success is defined as everybody wins. The small businesses bless the entire community including other small business owners. Laurie resonated with Hope International’s mission to invest, their method of sharing hope while restoring dignity, and motivation of the love of Jesus Christ.

Hope Changes Everything
Her most memorable encounter was with a blind woman who had started a small shop that grew into a large store. The woman could not see what she was selling, but could “see” the benefits of each relationship she built along the way. She blessed her family and so many in her community. Yes, she was blind, but her vision for working hard for her family and community was clear. Laurie’s vision was now clear too. She saw the hope this woman and many other entrepreneurs had through hard work, community, and the hope of Christ.

You Can Help Spread Hope
If you share Laurie’s burden for poverty and desire to be a part of restoring dignity, equip yourself with a free download of “Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing” by Chris Horst and Peter Greer at www.uncharity.org.

Sharla Langston

About Author

Sharla Langston

Sharla Langston is an energetic and enterprising leader and is one of the founders of Women Doing Well. In addition, she guides individuals and families as a giving coach in discovering and executing their unique giving design. She flourishes in environments where people are encouraged and equipped to discover their next step toward living a life of generosity to self and others. She has a background as a petroleum engineer and as U.S. Congressional committee staff. She and her husband, Mark, live in Dallas. Sharla’s purpose statement is “Sparking Impact.”

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