Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the category “Under the line”

Video: Live Under The Line

The challenge may be over but the journey has just begun.

After just three days of living under the line, many of us have a new perspective of what it means to live below the poverty line in South Africa. In our Live Under the Line feedback clip, three  Common Grounders share how their hearts have been freshly stirred by this campaign.

If your heart has also been freshly stirred, download our plugin sheet and our September calendar to find out more about the various ways that you can get involved in the restoration of our city.

P.S. For more Live Under the Line feedback stories read these blog posts here.


What did you have to say?

During the Live Under the Line Challenge, we encouraged you to share your experiences with us on our Facebook event page. We were so overwhelmed by the response that we felt we had to take a moment to summarize some of your comments on the challenge. Here’s what some of you had to say:

“What came home to me yesterday was the issue of access. When I walk into Pick ‘n Pay or the local supermarket, so much is accessible to me not because I have a lot of money but because I have money. I belong there because I have the currency for it. I wonder if people who live on less than R10 a day don’t feel as out of place in a simple grocery store as I would in The One and Only.” – Matthew Draper

“Last night our home group made some sandwiches and handed them out to those in need – homeless people that were wandering the streets. It was amazing to actually connect with some of them. Some were sad, some were angry and some were really excited. A couple of people actually asked us, before we could say anything, if we were from Common Ground! I think it’s fantastic that Common Ground is becoming a church that is passionate about Social Justice and becoming known for that, not for our own fame but because we genuinely care about others and live to glorify God!” – Cameron Froud

“Am suddenly so aware of how BIG food is in my life. I spend a lot of time thinking about what” nicety” I can make to end off the day in a delicious way! Now I cant stop thinking about how many people cant even dream about making their family something delicious to end their day. They are wondering if there will be ANYTHING to have at the end of the day.” – Charlotte Marrison

“I have been surprised at how quickly my mood can be affected by the thought of not eating something substantial. Even after breakfast, with food in my stomach, I felt like there was “not as much” to look forward to in the day because my lunch and dinner were going to be very small. If I feel that way and I know this challenge will come to an end – how much more would this affect people not even sure where their next meal is going to come from. Flip.” – Garrett Loubser

“Feeling challenged and stretched beyond the usual sandwich for the guy who rings our doorbell on a weekly basis. He always has a long story, but encouraged by Craig Stewart’s (The Warehouse) message to LISTEN to the story, I heard the not unexpected request for money – this time a train ticket for a brand new job. The first job he’s had in 4 months. He also needs a haircut, which will cost him R10.
It’s like a jolt inside me and I blurt out I’ll cut his hair (my conservative half slapping me and saying ‘what are you thinking!?’). I backtrack a bit, say he’s to return in an hour when my husband is home (thinking I’ll get Dave to tell him I just disappeared, ppooofff, into thin air and he can’t find me. Martians have kidnapped me…I’m having a bath…aaarrgghh, what have I done?!). I’ve done what God asked, when I happened to borrow my dad’s hairclippers for 1 week only and now have them burning a hole in my cupboard, waiting for Mr New Job to ring my doorbell. Sigh, I’ve been obedient!  Hang on….it’s not that hard… An hour later Mr Head Held High walks away with his R10 still in his pocket and a smile on his face. Phew, I survived that…wasn’t so hard now was it…” – Madeleine Scheppening

“Yesterday I actually dropped some macaroni on the floor (between the stove and draining it in the sink) – rushing since we were truly hungry for a change. Confession time: for the first time (in a long time) I picked it up, washed it and we ate it cheerfully. Hey, with the strict measurements of our meals I was not going to waste one bite of it. 🙂 That experience just has me newly aware of how wasteful we are with what we have been trusted with to stewart.” – Natasha Hoffman

“Day 2 at work and im finding this a lot harder than anticipated! lack of good coffee and delicious gourmet lunch from Woodstock’s Kitchen. Makes me think how car guards and beggers feel when we constantly ignore them or say no. We are such a narcissistic society. I pray that this isn’t a 3 day event for us, but rather a new lifestyle to acknowledge our neighbours, look them in the eye and understand them a bit better. lets be the change we want to see in South Africa!!” – Meg Kinnell

“I’m no stranger to poverty. I used to have to make a choice between having my dinner leftovers for breakfast or lunch after school. By grace of God, he has carried me and put me where I am today. The most important lesson that I have learned though all this exercise is gratitude. I am blessed. I made a promise to myself that no child of mine will ever have to go through what I went through.” – Thembakazi Dyani

Read more…

Walking in someone else’s shoes

Murray, second from right, sharing a R5 Live Under the Line meal with friends at the Common Ground Cafe

Murray Armstrong shares his personal journey through the Live Under the Line Challenge.

When I first heard of the Live Under the Line Challenge, I was immediately interested. We’re doing a challenge! I’m a guy – I thrive on challenges. And I remember how quickly that enthusiasm shifted to indecision when I heard it would be challenging, or rather limiting, my typical daily intake of calories. The bar was set: three days of no more than R10 a day for food.

This challenge is a daily reality for over 13 million South Africans. By restricting our budget for food, we would attempt to identify with them and hopefully develop a genuine heart for changing their situation. My enthusiasm got the better of me, much to the dismay of my appetite. The challenge was on!

Sharing a bowl of mash and tomato relish with a couple friends on day one, our conversation shifted from how our oats breakfast tasted to more serious debate about fighting poverty in our beloved country. All of us being UCT students, we realized how easy it is to live in the bubble of campus life and be caught up in our own “student budget” struggles. I can’t say that we solved all our countries problems over that one meal, but there certainly was a change in our mindsets, a shift in momentum towards living a life that is more generous.

My personal journey in charitable living has been filled with ups and downs. Usually, when I have managed to be sincerely generous with my time or finances, I have always felt blessed in return and more motivated to fight injustice. Other times seeing the severity of poverty has left me feeling that my own efforts are either in vain or make little difference. My heart often shuffles between wanting to serve the needy and not wanting to, but feeling as though I ought to. The conflict between wanting to give, but not wanting to give up my precious resources is a constant struggle.

True motivation finds itself in Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Realising that my salvation was freely given to me as a gift from God empowers and encourages me to help those in need whether they’re deserving or not. As Jesus instructed his disciples, the logical outworking of one who recognizes he has freely received, is to freely give. (Matthew 10:8)

Gathering on the final night of the challenge, our home group congregated eagerly in the kitchen. The guys looked on with beady eyes as the girls dished up their modest portions of chicken and rice. The ratio of chicken to rice was far lower than usual, but we awaited this meal with more pleasant anticipation than any previous dinners together. Needless to say all the plates were soon spotless and we cheerfully shared our experiences over the Live Under the Line Challenge. I remember one member humbly confessing how his appetite had got the better of him and lead him to devour a pack of biscuits after coming home from a tough day at work. I couldn’t shake the feeling that what we shared that night with one another was actually being shared with a larger audience. That night we shared a meal with 13 million other South Africans. We shared the struggle they have everyday.

Having spent three days in their shoes, we finished the challenge more grateful and humble than we started. We exited freshly encouraged to pray more earnestly and live more generously for the poor of our city. What a great idea! Let’s do it again!

– Murray is a qualified engineer and is currently serving on Common Ground’s Fuel Team

Learning to live on less

Kirsten and her husband Roan with their three children (aged 3, 5 and 7)

Kirsten Wilkins shares the impact the Live Under the Line Challenge had on her family.

Our family was really struggling financially at the time of the last LUTL challenge. We had just closed down our business and the last thing we were able to spend money on was the kind of food we had been used to. We were making a lot of changes, but when the LUTL Challenge came around it helped us to kick into another gear altogether.

Our home group leader at the time prompted us to extend the 3 days to 7 days – his mantra of ‘push harder, go further’ is amazing. ‘Sure, why not?’ I thought. To achieve this, we needed to look at our whole week’s budget, meal planning and shopping behavior. It was really hard work initially, but with God’s grace we managed. A whole week under the line was a success!

For just about every week since then we have followed this programme. We have had a few wobbles along the way but we strive to live under the line everyday. After about 3 months, we increased out budget to R60/day. That is R12/person/day and through God’s provision we are able to keep it there. We have a great meal planning system which we never had before and my hubby is really happy that I now actually stick to it. What an adventure!

God’s grace has been so obvious and incredible during this time. Everything from people giving us groceries to willing and talented people showing me how to cook them all! (Sorry, Woolworths, we can’t be friends again!) This month, we’re taking the next step. At R12/day options can be a bit limited but I feel very compelled by God to look more closely at what we are eating from a nutritional point of view. Of course, you try and make the best decisions possible, but our home group leader’s encouragement to push harder is ringing afresh in my ears.

So this month our family is cutting out wheat. *Gasp* Under The Line with no cheap starch?! We’re on day 6 and doing great. The bottom line is that everything just takes a little longer and is a little more effort but it is possible. I love to see God’s encouragement through our three young children as they see and accept how important stewardship is of our finances and our bodies. By God’s grace we’ll have even more awesome stories to tell of how He is changing the way we live, think and spend all that He has blessed us with.

The Live Under the Line Challenge was life changing for our family and continues to impact us as we push through a season of major financial upheaval. I thank God for His consistent and amazingly personal, caring and individualized provision. I long to be a better steward of all that He has blessed us with. I can’t help but think of those families who live on R10/day, unsure of whether there will be R10 tomorrow.

Live Under the Line: So what next?

By Sarah Binos

As the final hours of the LUTL Challenge approach many of you may be asking the question: What next? This challenge has been a great opportunity to grow closer to God and to grow in our capacity to do justice, but if it were to end at midnight tonight we would have failed to get the point.

We need to move from gratitude to empathy to action. Here are a couple of questions to help you grapple with what your next step should be:

  1. What are your motives? We need to motivated by God, not obligation, guilt or to feel better about ourselves. Deeply internalise the biblical definition and mandate for doing justice. (See resources below)
  2. Which vulnerable people has God placed on your path every day? Is God prompting you to get to know any of these people a little better? The bedrock of doing justice is relationships – being in right relationship with people. Do you employ any vulnerable people? Do you know these people?
  3. Has LUTL highlighted any excess in your life? How can you live more simply so that you have more of your life to give to others?
  4. What has God placed in your hands? What is He calling you to steward towards vulnerable people? Skills? Time? Stuff? Relationships to influence? Your voice on an issue? Your family, friends and community to influence?
  5. What season of life are you in? We are never exempt from doing justice in any season of life but don’t feel overwhelmed. What God calls us to, He will always equip us for.

Some helpful resources:

1. Take this Lifestyle Quiz to help you identify the areas in your life you’d like to work on

2. Click here for a summary on ‘what is justice’ and ‘why do justice’

3. Listen to these sermons on Justice

We’re here to help you on this journey! If you have any questions or would like advice on what to do next, please contact us:

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