This paper presents a project in which I led a group of students at a suburban Christian school in experiences that challenged them to be more engaged with those in their community who are experiencing an economic disadvantage. At the outset, the two presenting problems were: (1) a lack of experience with those who are at an economic disadvantage; and (2) a prevalence of troubling attitudes about poverty, namely, ambivalence toward helping people who live in poverty. A lack of concern for the poor is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. In response to this problem, two teachers and I led a group of high school students in a 48-hour experience with an urban ministry to those experiencing homelessness. During this time we participated in a poverty simulation, which involved making meals on meager resources, sleeping in shelter-like environments, volunteering at various ministries, and meeting people who were experiencing poverty and homelessness. I evaluated the efficacy of this project by studying field notes, informal interviews, and the assessment of an outside expert. I concluded that the experience was an effective first step in responding to the problem, but that more needs to be done.

Author Bio

James Hensley was born in 1983 in Kansas City, Missouri. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harding University in 2004, a Master of Divinity degree from Abilene Christian University in 2008, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Abilene Christian University in 2016. Since 2008, he has taught high school Bible classes at Fort Worth Christian School in North Richland Hills, Texas. His primary areas of interest are spiritual formation and social justice.