Charism of Voluntary Poverty
Description: A lifestyle of cheerful, voluntary poverty or simplicity in order to identify with Jesus and the poor.
Testimony for the Charism of Voluntary Poverty
“I have always felt drawn to live amongst the poor in order to reach out to them with God’s love.”
The Charism of Voluntary Poverty is defined as being ‘A lifestyle of cheerful, voluntary poverty or simplicity in order to identify with Jesus and the poor.’ I have always felt drawn to live amongst the poor in order to reach out to them with God’s love.
When we lived in the Midlands our church was in a very poor area, yet my husband and I deliberately chose to live close to the church in order to show God’s love the surrounding community. Despite the number of local murders (including the lady living next door but one) I never felt unsafe and had complete peace that I was in the place where God wanted me to be. It would have seemed odd if we had been conspicuously more affluent than our neighbours, but I felt no sense of deprivation in choosing to live with very little in the way of material possessions.
“I found that one of the most compelling and satisfying ways to live my faith was to live simply, in kinship with Christ and the local community who had very little.”
Not having things (and not struggling to acquire them) has freed me to focus on loving and serving others especially our children. Early in our married life we believed we were given a prophecy that God would bless us with six children. One of my friends was horrified and immediately asked, ‘How on earth will you afford it?’ Having a large family did indeed mean that we couldn’t afford many things that our church friends took for granted, but it was never a problem to me. I found it easy to dress and eat simply, and to go without luxuries and even things others considered to be essential. Indeed, when we moved from the Midlands to the Portsmouth Diocese some of our new friends were astonished at how little we owned. They very kindly helped us to move and had hired 4 vans for the day only to find that one of them was completely unnecessary!
“It was as though I had been able to spend a week living the life I was created for.”
So it has been easy for me to go without many possessions even though I can appreciate the goodness of created things, I find I can enjoy them without needing or wanting to possess them. For me, living a life of material simplicity is a relief and a relaxation. We recently spent time staying with our youngest daughter who has chosen a life of extreme simplicity for the sake of the environment with no running water, no mains drainage, no car – and I came home completely refreshed. It was as though I had been able to spend a week living the life I was created for.