For some reason, in the last few days God has given me a small dose of His heart for the poor. I have been pondering the poor a lot as I mingle amongst people in Kongowea and learn more of the stories of my boys. Ouch, my heart just aches.
A couple of them explained to me the other day that sometimes they don't eat. One of them is wishing that he could have a few dollars so that he could buy plastic bags to sell in the market. He said to me excitedly,'I could make up to 20 bob a day!" 20 bob is approximately 25cents. And he is excited about 25cents? It is because he is not making that daily right now so 20 bob is an improvement.
My boys wear the same clothes every time I see them. Either they really really like them or they can't afford anything else. Most of them can't go to school. They just don't have the funds so they sit around the community picking up small jobs here and there and being idle.
It makes you think what their lives are worth. I am sure they have pondered that before. If this is all I am doing, then what is the purpose for life? Poverty doesn't just mean not eating or not having clothes. Poverty diminishes purpose, worth, hope, joy.
For example, I told you about Andi a few weeks ago and how we put him into school. After one week of school, his entire demeanour changed. He smiles everywhere he goes. He is incredibly jovial. He walks with confidence. He walks with purpose. He is no longer timid. It's like now he has made something of himself. He is proud of himself. Even Kelvin met with him the other day and said, "I don't know has gotten into that kid. He is a completely different person." Amazing the transformation in the boys life by just simply putting him into school.
It's hard to believe that God would put all these people on the earth and say, "Oops I forgot to put enough food for everyone". So why isn't it happening?
Then I realized that God has given. But we haven't.
Kelvin and I were chatting this morning as I was pouring out all my thoughts to him. He pointed me to the statement Jesus made saying, "the poor will always be among you." At first glance it seems rather pessimistic. Ok, since they will always be there then why should we do anything?? However, I think Jesus meant it as a challenge. A challenge to get our buts in gear and help the poor.
Deuteronomy 15:1-11 really enlightened me this afternoon as I opened my bible to study scriptures on the poor (as it has been eating at me for the past few days). It is a passage that talks about clearing debts after every 7 years. In vs 4 it points out that there 'may be no poor among you' however this is conditional. In vs. 5 it says this will happen 'only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God to observe with care all these commandments'. So this is saying that there will be no poor when we obey God's commandments. WE must give to the poor as God has commanded us to. The ball is in our court.
However, reading on to verse 11, Moses says something similar to Jesus that 'the poor will never cease from the land.' I think Moses was being realistic knowing that the children of Israel will never fully keep God's commands.
And neither will we. It is our disobedience that is causing the poor. Ouch. Yes, we have so much and have worked hard for it but who gave us this opportunity in the first place? Why were we chosen to be born in Canada (or other first world countries) and not Kenya? Have we earned it? Nope. It's called Grace. Amazing grace. But with this privilege comes great responsibility.
I love this verse found in Amos 2:6 "Thus says the Lord....I will not turn away it's punishment because they sell...the poor for a pair of sandals"
Is it really necessary to buy another pair of fancy shoes when people aren't eating? Just last night I was talking to one of the boys about how much his school fees would cost. For one year, it is about $200. I then said, "You know people in the West spend that much on one pair of shoes." He gasped. His school fees (the chance to get out of poverty) for a nice pair of shoes for ourselves?
So knowing this what can I do? what should we do? As God's hands and feet, how will we help the poor? My prayer is that we would not become numb to them. It is so easy to forget about the poor when we live such cushy lives.
If you have any comments, questions, rebukes leave a comment at the end of this post. If you completely agree or think I am totally off target, let me know. I am no theologian nor do I know everything so I am open to any criticisms or encouragements.
"He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honours Him has mercy on the needy" - Proverbs 14:31