The Simple Way


Shane Claiborne in Kensington
On Being, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at an unusual community in the United States. They have chosen to be very poor, and serve the people around them.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Old factories stand in lines along empty streets. No one is using them. They look ruined and dirty. There are also empty houses. No one is taking care of them. The people who live in this area are very poor. Some live in the houses. But other people in the area do not even have a house to live in. They are homeless. This is Kensington – an area in the city of Philadelphia in the United States.

Voice 2

There is a hopeful place in the middle of Kensington. It is a community center. It provides help for people in this area. Today, there is a clothes exchange at the community center. Some people brought clothes to give away. Other people came to get clothes. They paid one dollar. Then they filled a large container with clothes for their families. 

Voice 1

A group called The Simple Way organized this clothes exchange day. These are the same people who manage the community centre. But these people were not born in Kensington. They choose to live there - even though this area is very poor. Many people do not understand why someone would choose to live in poverty. Today’s Spotlight is on the Simple Way community.

Voice 3

“I wanted what my culture taught me to want. I wanted to get a job where I could make the most money... I had a lot of ideas but I did not have many relationships.”

Voice 2

These are the words of Shane Claiborne. He is talking about his life as a young man. But now his life is different. He is the leader of The Simple Way. He wears simple brown clothes that he made for himself. He has long hair past his shoulders. He talks to many people at universities and churches. Shane speaks with great energy. During a speech at Biola University, he explains how his life changed: 

Voice 3

“I was a college student in 1995. I lived outside the city. There were hundreds of empty houses in Philadelphia. Yet, people were waiting a long time to get a house. There was a group of poor and homeless families in Kensington. They were mostly children and mothers. These families decided to show the struggle of homeless families. So they found an empty building to live in. It was an old, empty church. At our college, we saw this story in the newspaper. But the newspaper said the families were told to move out. The city wanted to remove the families from the building. But the families did not have anywhere else to live. So we went to the church. We found those families. We entered into their struggle. It was the first step for a student movement.”

Voice 1

Shane and his friends could not just watch other people suffer. At this time they were reading the book of Acts together. In this part of the Christian Bible, they read about another group of Christians:

Voice 4

“All the believers were together. They shared everything they had. They sold what they owned. They gave each other everything they needed.”

Voice 2

Shane listened to these words very closely. He decided to move to the poorest part of Philadelphia. Five of his friends also moved with him. Some of them had jobs, and others did not. They shared a house. They shared all their money. This is not common in North America.

Voice 1

Today the members of The Simple Way still live like this. They do not dream of being rich or powerful. They have a different dream. They want to follow the words of Jesus. Shane believes the world is broken. It is full of problems. So there is one main question that he thinks all people should ask:

Voice 3

“How can my skills and resources meet the needs of the world we live in?”

Voice 2

Shane tries to improve the world by working in the poor area of Kensington. He also helps by sharing his story. In his speech at Biola University, Shane explained:

Voice 3

“We no longer try to gain more money and more things. We try to see how we can live with LESS. We use our resources and skills to help meet the needs of other people. It is an economy based on loving the people around us as much as we love ourselves. This means another person’s suffering is my suffering.”

Voice 1

The main aim of The Simple Way is to share in the suffering of people living in poverty. They are friends with people who are homeless. They fixed some old houses to be their home and community center. They invite people to their home and share food. They organize events such as giving away many clothes for only one dollar. They made a grassy area in an empty lot. It is now a natural, green space for the community.

Voice 2

The work of The Simple Way is not always easy. In 2007 there was a huge fire in their area. It started in an empty factory building. The fire destroyed many homes. About one hundred MORE families were now homeless. It also burned down the Simple way house and community center. But even in this difficult time, there was something good. Shane told Dilworthtown Community church:

Voice 3

“No one was hurt in the fire. And our whole community came together. The aid organization The Red Cross set up a shelter. But they said the strangest thing happened. Almost one hundred families had nowhere to sleep. Their houses had burned down. But no one stayed in the shelter! Everyone in the community opened up their homes to each other. I am really proud of our community.”

Voice 1

The Simple Way is not the only community of people choosing to be poor. There are groups of people around the world who live this way. But Shane and his friends know that not everyone wants to choose poverty. He says that each person has a different way to live. He wrote a book about his life. In it he explains:

Voice 3

“So not everyone acts in the same way, but we must act. We listen to the voice of God and the voices of people who are suffering. We need clear minds that are free to dream again.”

Voice 2

What do you think of Shane’s idea? What do you think of choosing to be poor? Share your thoughts on our website at http://www.radioenglish.net

Voice 1

The writer and producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called, ‘The Simple Way’.

Voice 2

You can leave your comments and hear other programs on our website. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Simeon D.
said on September 26, 2011

This people don’t have any money, but they have a great worth in their hearts through the blessing of Jesus Christ who give them hope to live with happyness. (Simeon - Brazil)

Avatar Spotlight
egirl1989
said on September 27, 2011

Shane’s idea is very strange but meaningful to the poor and the homeless in Kensington. Most of people want to live and work in good condition and apart from choosing to be poor I think we can do various activities to help the others as long as it is practical and useful.

Avatar Spotlight
mylove_200988
said on October 01, 2011

God bless for Shane and his community. (Hanhdong - Vietnam)

Avatar Spotlight
Narath
said on October 02, 2011

Today I am not poor and also not rich I am in the middle . I think all people have different ideas so I do not think Shane’s idea is right or wrong . But for me I will not choose to be poor because I work hard and study hard to help myself , my family and my country . If I am poor so how can I help the poor people ? In fact I can help them but it depends on my ability and my living standard . If I am rich I can help them more than this . Totally I need to change myself first before I can change the society . I understand they can find a true love , friend and relationship when they met the difficult situation like they met a huge fire in their area and they helped one another , do not give them up . But if everyone in the community was also homeless what should they do ? I find that they must stay in the shelter which set up by the Red Cross , The aid organization . And how can the aid organization receive money from ?  ( Cambodia )

Avatar Spotlight
chappo
said on October 15, 2011

I looked on google to see what it says about the simple way and Shane Claiborne.
There is a lot of information and not very easy words, but I think I get the ideas ok. 
I think Shane has a good way of thinking and they are close to the bible and jesus. But I think he is thinking too small.  What about people in places like Africa?  We fight and kill each other here for very small things.  It is not good.  I can see that we can change to be more like jesus Christ but that we will not do that unless we can be happy to live with less things.  That is a very hard thing to do in Africa because we do not have much to live on and maybe we will die?  But I think jesus will be happy if we try to work together and make God’s kingdom come down.  We should not be afraid.  If jesus was afraid he would not have died for us.  Amen?

In jesus name, Muriuki

Avatar Spotlight
chappo
said on October 15, 2011

Narath said:  “But if everyone in the community was also homeless what should they do ? I find that they must stay in the shelter which set up by the Red Cross , The aid organization . And how can the aid organization receive money from ? “

If I read the article well, I think it said that the Red Cross came and put the shelter, but nobody stayed there because the people in that place helped the people with no houses.  So it made a good point for the simple way.  That sharing and helping works in real and good ways.  They did not need the Red Cross because they loved each other.  That makes me happy and hopeful for the world.

Muriuki (Kenya)

Dzung.vn's avatar
Dzung.vn
said on November 02, 2012

after listening this program, there are also happy and a deep sadness in my mind. Shane’s works is very good and be proud. However, I wish, If he try harder in learning to become a powerful and successful man in society is good as could be. Surely, he will help more people. after all, he is also a good example for us to learn. through the actual story, i found a philosophy of life that is should do something useful rather than not do anything.

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on November 02, 2012

Shane is a great person , he is doing what is wrote at the Bible..to share everything .. to give his life to the poor people and the most important is he is acting like a true Christian and with the example of Jesus Christ who gave his life for everyone of us. I don’t know why people criticize to him because he doesn’t want to do the common way of people to get success in the world. I’m agree with him , if you want to feel the needs of poor people is better to live like them and to meet each other with our poorest brothers. We don’t have to hide them only because they are poor . They need help and he is a wire connection with them living like them and giving away all material things he can provide them free or a low cost. He’s practicing the word og God..it’s strange to see kindness and merciful attitudes in this world right now but it’s true and positive. 
Thanks Shane for giving your life and your purpose of life .

Bye,

Augusto Lenin

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on November 03, 2012

Choosing to be poor isn’t easy and not everyone can live like this. Shane with his friends were successful. They shared in the suffering of people living in poverty and they also could helped them. The more people as these are in the world, the bigger hope there will be for the homeless, poor people. Thanks for a very interesting article!