Five years.

That’s the maximum amount of time that most leaders last when serving in under-resourced communities. That’s not very long. Living in poverty is hard enough, but trying to reverse poverty and all of the other challenges that come with it can feel literally overwhelming.

Harvard professor, Dr. Robert Sampson, has studied communities that are densely populated with extreme poverty and uncovered a phenomenon called “compounded deprivation.” He has discovered that poverty is essentially a strong magnet for other forms of deprivation. Families who are poor and who live in poor communities typically have “poor” or no options for healthy groceries. Most of these communities are deprived of thriving schools, adequate housing, and excellent health care facilities. Those things simply do not exist. Poverty is an enormous adversary on its own, but it attracts other ugly companions that suppress and oppress entire communities and make thriving almost impossible.

Many ministry leaders lose heart because they feel alone. They have no community or networks of support and the battle becomes overwhelming.

It’s for this very reason that many leaders get burned out. The battle is never-ending. A leader’s primary mission might be to provide a solid Christian school for neighborhood children, but because so many essential components are missing in the lives of their students, they are additionally tasked with providing (or seeking ways to provide), food, shelter, and health care. If a young person is abused or homeless, a leader becomes the first responder to the situation. In addition to all of this, they still have to shepherd and encourage their staff and raise their budget to sustain the life of their program. The myriad of challenges are enormous and can feel impossible.

This is why support is so crucial. Our front-line warriors and first responders need ongoing assistance if they are going to stay the course. They require men and women who are willing to fund the mission through regular giving. They need continual prayer, volunteers, supplies, and encouragement. There are times when they need literal relief – to be extracted from their foxhole to go the beach or the mountains to clear their heads and find refreshment.

Thankfully Desire Street Ministries exists to help our ministry partners find the support, love, prayer, and relief they need to stay the course – far beyond five years. We are grateful for the generous men and women who have rallied around our partners in ongoing ways, to keep them encouraged and to let them know that they are not alone. Our hope and prayer is that they and our current partners will continue to attract and sustain new supporters who will help them impact their neighborhoods with hope, grace, joy, and peace.

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