Thursday, December 2, 2021

Local mission preaches solving poverty through empowerment

Lantana resident John Morgan knows how crazy it must sound when someone like him walks around town claiming they are in the business of solving poverty.

After all, poverty on a global scale has persisted as long as anyone can remember, even as countless charitable organizations toss trillions of dollars and resources toward the problem every year.

With no end in sight, many believe poverty isn’t something you can actually solve. But Morgan believes otherwise.

“I know it sounds audacious [to think that],” Morgan said. “But we’ve managed to solve a lot of it over the years.”

He said The Economist reported in a 2013 article that in the previous 20 years, one billion people had been lifted out of extreme poverty worldwide. That did not happen by charity and aid. It happened through what Morgan is also doing — empowerment. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing approximately 125 million people to fall back into extreme poverty according to worldbank.com, the most effective means to bringing people out of poverty is empowerment.

By 2030, Morgan hopes to lead one million people out of poverty through his nonprofit organization, People Prosper International. And he’s not just talking about the poor communities in his backyard of Denton County. He’s talking about the global locations where they are working now: Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, India, Asia, Africa, and Central America.

And he plans to do it not through endless charity but rather education, empowerment, and giving struggling individuals the tools necessary to carve a new path that will allow them to do great things for themselves moving forward.

Morgan, an author, speaker, and former pastor, has a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Regent University. He started People Prosper International as a part-time endeavor in 2016 while he was still working in pastoral ministry in New Mexico. He went full-time in 2019 and moved his organization to Lantana to be closer to an international airport, the DFW population base, and his family. Since it began, PPI has helped thousands of people escape poverty, increase their income, and in some cases, start their own businesses.

So how does it work?

PPI developed the People Prosper University training course to teach participants three fundamental principles: creating the best value they can, owning the best property they can, and growing the best businesses they can. While these three principles may sound basic to those who don’t live in poverty, they are game-changers for those who do.

And it doesn’t stop there. PPI writes and provide books, training materials, online video course, curricula for schools, and live training. PPI also introduces the same course to pastors and community leaders who serve in high-poverty areas to push more people to the program, and they train Certified PPI Trainers who live in these poor regions to help expand PPU training to neighboring regions. They also produce Women’s Economic Empowerment Conferences in the countries where they serve.

“We tend to go to the places where poverty is the worst, and we teach them one step at a time how to get themselves out of poverty,” Morgan said. “In the beginning, they don’t have enough for themselves or their families. They don’t have the ability to fund a purpose or find a hope or dream they may have for their life. By the time we are done, they are empowered. They have a clear direction on what they need to do next, and then they go do it. One of the biggest misconceptions about the poor is that they are incapable or stupid. They aren’t either of those. The ah-ha moment for me is always their response. It’s their enthusiasm and the energy they receive the training with. It’s the excitement and then the immediate application of those steps by so many of them.”

The success stories are too many to count, but Morgan pointed to one lady in Kenya who grew up in a poor village, lost her mother when she was only 8 years old, and was essentially treated as a slave as she grew up. Since taking the training course, she has gone on to own and operate five businesses, own and oversee five income properties, and purchase herself a car — all in a country where only 2% of property is owned by women. She’s now a Certified PPI Trainer — fully invested in helping those around her live a better life.

“She is training an entirely new generation,” Morgan said. “It makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck. That’s what we do.”

Listening to Morgan talk for five minutes is proof enough that this is his calling in life. He previously spent 30 years in pastoral ministry, the last 24 as the pastor at Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington, New Mexico. During that time, he traveled around the world for mission work and routinely found himself in the poorest communities in the world.

“The poverty problem has always stuck out to me the most, and it honestly messed me up,” Morgan said. “I try to act like a tough guy, but it has always bothered me — even back when I was a kid. God kept dropping me into these places where poverty was horrid, and people’s lives were so bad. I became angry over the lack of true solutions. While charity is good and necessary, at some times and in some places, it doesn’t solve poverty.”

He eventually came across the Acton Institute in Chicago and fell in love with their take on solving poverty, which is explained in their award-winning video documentary series, Poverty Cure.

“It demonstrates that charity isn’t the solution to poverty. Empowerment is,” Morgan said. “That made a lot of sense to me. So I began training the people in these countries in what I believe are the core steps to get started. And the response was fantastic. Something like this changes the trajectory of their lives and their kids’ lives. I started doing this 15 years ago, and I began to realize that I needed to spend the rest of my life doing this. This is where I could make the biggest impact.”

If you are interested in learning more about People Prosper International or would like to see how your organization or church can partner with them to serve the needs of your community or to make a global impact, visit peopleprosper.org.

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