Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Prepare for culture shock


Responding to a crisis call, the police officer saw little to eat yet a massive TV and hundreds of videotapes inside the flimsy home. He wondered why entertainment seemed valued over food in that family.
Now a clergyman, Derrek Belase learned why at a Ruby Payne training seminar about poverty. It was an “aha” moment that continues to inform his Christian journey.
On Oct. 24, he prays that an Oklahoma Conference workshop titled “What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty” will elicit similar “aha” responses from all who attend and will educate them to engage better with the poorest Oklahomans.
Hosted at OKC-First United Methodist Church, the event is offered through Aha! Process, a Ruby Payne company. Sponsors are the Oklahoma Conference’s Discipleship and Mission & Service Ministry Teams and the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation.
“I think what people will have uncovered for them is almost a new language,” said Rev. Belase, director of Discipleship.
“People in poverty — that’s another culture. You have to understand the things that are important to them. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. I want you to take home the ability to relate” to them.
He said congregations must #SeeAllThePeople to impact the world. Statistics prove “there are zero communities in our state that don’t have people living in poverty,” he said.
Perhaps your church serves a free weekly meal in your community. Do you also sit with diners who are strangers? Do you ask if they have prayer requests?
Maybe your church operates a children’s program. Some families move often, and a kid’s craft for the refrigerator door may not go with them. Kids do enjoy hands-on activities, so perhaps putting together kits for others makes a bigger impact in the moment.
Rethink the timing of your church’s garage sales. First Saturdays are of greater benefit for people who get paid monthly and are frugal shoppers.
Some poor families may place more importance on keeping family members entertained than dining and sharing together around a table. An outdoor movie night could be a first step to draw new people to your church.
Sign up online to attend the Oct. 24 workshop at First Church, across from the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Go to bit.ly/2unzU2b. Registration is $25. Each person will receive a book co-authored by presenter Bill Ehlig. Lunch will not be provided, but the schedule includes time for eating off-site.

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