Overcoming Poverty Stereotypes

As Sue gets involved in a young couple's life, God changes her heart and mindset.

by Katie Croft   |  4 October 2010
image-with-a-little-help-465x280 Margaret, age 18, works full time, uses public transportation to go anywhere, passed her GED exam and has 3 young children at home. Determined to change her and her family's future, she also went on to earn her Certified Nursing Certificate (CNA) in May 2010. Photo by Sue Ek

Pulling up to the government building in her navy-blue jetta, Sue Ek opened the car door.  Bracing against the Minnesota chill, her passenger, Darrell, a teenage husband and father of 3 young girls, followed Sue up to his caseworker's desk.  

The caseworker asked Sue to identify herself.  Sue replied that she was a family friend. Sue had befriended this teenage couple last year when her church opened its doors to the homeless.  He small group had just finished going through Compassion by Command, a 7-week Bible study series by Here's Life Inner City, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

"I used to lump all people in poverty together, thinking they are all alike," remembers Sue. That mindset changed through the study and even more after Sue got to know Darrell and Margaret (above).

Aid offices are scattered throughout St. Paul, and many times a conversation with one office will only result in a recommendation to go to a different office across town. 

Sue drove Darrell all over town attempting to reopen lines for assistance like food stamps and subsidy checks.  They crisscrossed the city several times; at the end of the day, both were frustrated. 

The feeling of defeat was too familiar for Darrell. "I have to have hope," says Sue, "or else I wouldn't be involved anymore.  But the system is so tangled."

Sue loaned the couple rent money for the month and bought groceries to get them by until things were straightened out. 

After returning home, she made a few more phone calls on Darrell's behalf.  Sue's suspicion that her voice held more weight than Darrell's seemed to prove true when Darrell and Margaret received food stamps and other assistance a few days later. 

The couple returned the rent money to Sue and thanked her.

"We are in their life for as long as they want us in their lives," Sue says, "My goal would be to go to those little girls' graduation if I am alive in 20 years."