The church and poverty reduction : the case of the Hope Empowerment Scheme of Durban Christian Centre Church.
Icheku, Jude Emeka.
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In recent times, the church has been involved in various development programmes. Church based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have emerged in response to development needs especially in the developing countries. Among the issues engaging the attention of the church, the problems of HIV/AIDS and poverty seem to be most prominent. In South Africa, the activities of Christian organizations in response to these problems are evident. This study evaluated the role of the church in poverty reduction with special reference to the Help Our People Everywhere (HOPE) Empowennent Scheme of the Durban Christian Centre Church, in KwaZulu-Natal. It examined the poverty reduction programme of the church and explored how Christian theology has shaped the church's response to the problem of poverty and associated problems. The study was based on primary infonnation obtained from interviews with the managers and beneficiaries of the projects of the Empowennent Scheme. Qualitative analysis was used to gauge the extent to which the projects ofthe scheme have improved the well-being ofthe beneficiaries. Significant improvement in the well-being of the respondents was found. First, there was a restoration of self-esteem, confidence to achieve success despite odds, and hope for a prosperous future. Second, and more measurable, there was an improvement in the incomes of the beneficiaries. Although the scheme showed promises of a sustainable progress in poverty reduction, there were a number of challenges and shortcomings particularly with funding of the projects and the reach or coverage of the scheme's activities.