Even on my worst day, I have so much to be thankful for. My complaints are pathetic and selfish in comparison with real life for a huge portion of the world. Look at this post that a fellow missionary in Nicaragua posted earlier this week.
“Please pray for precious Keyling. She has a high fever and an infection in her chest. You can only imagine the struggle to remain healthy living in these conditions. 8 people trying to sleep on this one piece of plywood to keep off the cold, muddy, wet ground because of the heavy rains. We were able to get Keyling the antibiotic she needs. As we told her mother to make sure she takes the meds 3x a day with a small piece of bread or something in her stomach the mother humbly told us that wouldn’t be possible. They cook a small pot of yucca (like a potato) every morning. Each person in the family gets one small piece. Please pray for Keyling today. That God would supernaturally touch her body, keep her safe, warm and provide this families every need.”
I am so blessed, and so are you. We see this kind of poverty where we live too. I often wonder how those people live day by day in those kinds of conditions. I complain that there are too many ants on my counter tops in the mornings… and her counter top is a log. I complain that my washing machine is making a funny noise and not draining properly. Look at how they must do their washing by hand and hang things out to dry. I complain that my wardrobe is getting thread bare after 5 years of use. Look at her one shirt and how the family’s clothes are doubling as pillows and blankets. I complain that the store didn’t restock my coffee creamer for the 3rd week in a row, and this family eats one piece of potato a day. I am a selfish, spoiled person. I have so many blessings for which I forget to thank God.
Kendra told me that she found this girl on the streets 2 years ago. She was probably 4 or 5 years old. The mother was living with all 6 kids in this shack. She was selling the older 2 children (ages 11 and 14) for sex in the market. Lack of money leads to desperation. But lack of Jesus leads to sin and death. You know the saying, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time.” Well there is a Spiritual extension to that proverb.
You can come into a poor community and just pour money into the gap, but the people are still spiritually poor and headed for an eternity without hope. However, when a missionary brings Jesus to the poor, he brings an eternal change to the situation. There is now hope where there was once despair. With Jesus in their lives, the family makes better decisions… like not selling their children for sex because that’s wrong… like not drinking alcohol because that deprives the family of food. Economics can change when there is a heart change.
We don’t feed people in exchange for them becoming Christians. We feed people so that they can hear the message of Jesus’s love instead of being distracted by the rumble of their stomachs. It is unjust and morally wrong to just say, “Jesus bless you” and not actually feed the hungry or give a cup of water to the thirsty. The message isn’t the cup or the plate. The message is always “Jesus”, the food and water are just vehicles for the message- tangible expressions of the abstract concept of love. Plus it’s just what Jesus told us to do.