We are home now and processing all that God did on our life changing trip. Please pray for Meryah, who is having stomach problems. Pray for each of us as we process all that we saw and experienced. Today I am feeling more like an "alien in a foreign land" as I drive through the wealthy neighborhoods of Orange County. It's so hard to reconcile the poverty that I saw with the abundance of materialism here in my own backyard.
I was planning to write some thoughts and reflections on the poor yesterday, but then I read my friend Karen Yates' post. She captured my heart perfectly, so I'm copying her blog post here (thanks Karen!).
Refuse to Forget the Poor
There are 5,000 things to remember.
Many many important things vying for our attention.
Birthdays. Anniversaries. Soccer games. Playdates. Cupcake decorating. People to pray for. Phone calls to make. Emails to answer. Things to research.
I can't even touch on them all.
So when the world right outside my front door commands me to remember so many important things, many worthy and many worthless, HOW do you remember things like:
•147 million orphans
•The Persecuted Church (http://www.odusa.org/)
•15 million HIV/AIDS orphans worldwide (The Hole In Our Gospel)
•30,700 missionaries in the unevangelized areas of the world today. (Christianity Today)
•1 in 6 without safe drinking water. 3 children die every minute from bad water. (The Hole in Our Gospel)
•800,000,000 people in underdeveloped countries hungry EVERY DAY. (three times the population of the US--EVERY DAY) (The Hole in Our Gospel)
•350 million people without a Bible in their native language (Wycliff)
•4.5 billion people in the world do not know Jesus. (Radical)
•26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty. (Radical)
In Radical, David Platt asks: "How many of us are embracing the comforts of suburban America while we turn a deaf ear to inner cities in need of the gospel? How many of us are so settled in the United States that we have never once given serious thought to the possibility that God may call us to live in another country? How often are we willing to give a check to someone else as long as we don't have to go to the tough places in the world ourselves? How many of us parents are praying that God will raise up our children to leave our homes and go overseas, even if that means they many never come back? And how many of us are devoting our lives to taking the gospel to people in hostile regions around the world where Christians are not welcomed? Certainly few of us would be so bold as to say we "would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell," but if we do not take the gospel to them, isn't that where they will go? (Radical, 64)
In The Hole in Our Gospel: "We live in a world that is non-American, non-white, and non-Christian. 6.7 billion people on earth, and Americans make up 4.5% of the world's population. 2.6 billion people live on less than $2 a day. 1 billion on less than $1 a day. And Americans, on average, live on $105 a day, and we make up 4.5 % of the world's people." (121)
This really struck home: "It is not our fault that people are poor, but it IS our responsibility to do something about it. God says we are guilty if we allow people to remain deprived when we have the means to help them. It is our moral duty to help our neighbors in need. We cannot look at their situation and simply say, "not my problem." Neither can we sit in our comfortable bubbles and claim no responsibility for the disadvantaged in our world. God did not leave us that option." (The Hole In Our Gospel, 123)
I'm trying to remember, and I'm trying to remind. If I lived in Uganda with Katie and every day walked past dying children, I would remember. If I lived in Ethiopia and saw streets lined with begging children, I would remember. If I lived in Gaza ... If I lived in Indonesia ... If I lived in Ghana ... If I lived in Sudan ... If I lived in Haiti ... If I lived in North Korea ... If I lived in the middle of poverty I would remember. If I was poor, if it was MY child without clean water ... if it was MY child dying of TB ... if it was MY mother starving to death ... if it was MY husband who was absent for months at a time looking for work ... if it was ME, walking 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the night carrying 2 gallons of water on my head ... I WOULD REMEMBER.
But I'm sitting at my laptop, typing, and I'm warm, and my children are sleeping. Downstairs is a fridge full of food. I have 5 sinks in my house, and three showers. I have a closet of clothes and some cute boots. And I have 7 Bibles (about). And I have faith in Jesus--I KNOW Him, and I live for Him.
I don't want to forget what I have. And I refuse to forget what they don't have.