Global Missiology English, Vol 1, No 10 (2012)

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B1 Trauma is Poverty’s Twin: Stories that Shaped My Journey

Lisa Engdahl


The story of God’s call to me to live and minister among the urban poor began in the stories of my mother and father.  My mom grew up in poverty amidst the wickedness of Nazi Germany.  Like many immigrants, she didn’t speak much about her past when I was growing up, but preferred to focus on the future.  She was utterly un-sentimental about Germany. I remember asking her during my childhood about her blind eye.  She explained that she had a lazy eye as a child, and they simply covered it up due to poor medical care, which weakened her eye and caused her to lose her sight. Her toes were also deformed because, to save money, she had to wear handed-down shoes from her sister that were too small for her. My mom had these visible scars of poverty on her body. Her stories enabled me to understand that poverty is a condition which can befall any person, no matter how hard they work and how capable they are.  I understood that poor people were just like my mom—and just like me.

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