We trudged through the mud as misty rain fell. We were walking through miles and miles of shantys. Taking food to the kids, who otherwise might now have eaten that day. This was the first real taste of poverty my kids or I had ever seen. Kids playing in tattered clothes, most without shoes. The smiles on their faces as we poured them a bowel of porridge was all the thanks we needed. Amazing, here were a group of children who had nothing, yet their joy was contagious.
As I think on this time and compare it with life back here in the States, I am overwhelmed. How is it we live in a land of plenty, where most have their needs and most of their wants met. In a land where obesity is rampant because we eat too much, thrift shops are everywhere because we have too much and yet where most still do not think they have enough. The reality is compared to the rest of the world if we have a roof over our heads, food to eat and running water, we are RICH!
I just finished reading a book entitled, Running for My Life, in which a boy of six was stolen from his family by a group of rebels in Sudan. He and numerous others were forced to train to kill. Thankfully, he got away before this was forced upon him. Years after he spent living in a refuge camp in Kenya, he has the opportunity to come to America. Where a couple from New York adopt him as their own. For ten years, living at this refugee camp, he had eaten only one meal a day and the highlight of his week was Tuesday, when the leaders put out the garbage. On this day, the boys all fought over the half eaten food they found within. When he arrives in America, he can not begin to comprehend the abundance. When taken to McDonald’s and given an entire chicken sandwich, he is amazed. For never before had he gotten so much food at one time. Having a real bed after years of sleeping on the cold ground, indoor plumbing after years of taken care of business outside and his first soda were just a few of the luxuries he experienced.
As I read this true story, my heart broke. For this is the story of countless children around the world. Children who are dying daily of starvation. Children who by lot, have little to no chance of improving their situations. Children who go on to have more children, while the circle of poverty gets wider and wider.
Did you know that in many places such as Africa, India and China, people literally live on less than a dollar a day. This is so hard to comprehend, considering the only thing a dollar will buy you here is a candy bar and maybe a bottle of water.
As I look at the abundance of toys and stuff we have, quite honestly I feel ashamed. How can we have so much, while they have so little.
We are told again and again in Scripture to look after the poor. That if we turn our backs on the poor, we sin. Yet, isn’t this what we have done.
In David Platt‘s book Radical, he says, “maybe the Lord has not blessed us with so much so we can spend it on ourselves. Maybe, he has blessed us with so much so we can spend it on others.” I think he’s right. He goes on to say that “The mark of a Christ follower is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there.”
So the real question we have to ask ourselves is what do we treasure? For Jesus makes it clear that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.