Posted by: minnow | November 26, 2008

Transformed Not Isolated

My heart grieves for the Bride in America. What have we become? Who has become our master? Last Saturday, at an Open House for a missionary friend from Uganda I was part of a conversation about the “poor”. We were talking about the tragedy happening in the Congo. Entire villages are captured by soldiers, the men killed, the older boys enslaved, and the women and younger children raped, murdered or both. The thinking behind raping the women is that by doing so the soldiers make them outcasts to their own villages and can eventually wipe out entire people groups. This hideous evil is right now being perpetrated on an entire nation but in America what makes the nightly news? The rise and fall of the DOW.
Believe it or not, I actually got off topic but I will let it stand anyway. After all, even a little light dispels the darkness…
What I started to say was, after the initial few comments about the Congo, one person said something to the effect of, “America has received its salvation…in terms of the poor and the suffering. At least here there is shelter to be found, food to be scrounged, and work to be had.” Others went on to talk about our “picky poor” and I left the conversation. I have heard that attitude toward those on the fringe in other conversations–how dare they have preferences; they ought to just be thankful for the scraps we give them. If I am being honest, I have probably even said things that sounded like that myself.

On the one hand, “our” poor are probably only reflecting the attitudes of “our” culture (we are better, more deserving, owed). But, when I heard the original comment I understood the speaker to be saying something quite different. And if you are a Christian I am talking to you as much or more than I am talking to the non-Christian so get off your soapboxes and stop clicking your tongues and waving your self-righteous fingers at the “culture”. Believe it or not you have helped to create it. We all have.

The original comment was an extension point from the Congo discussion. I had just said how we–in America–are so sheltered, so isolated; we can not even begin to imagine the terror much of the rest of the world lives under, daily. And, the speaker was using what we call poor as an example of how isolated we are. Even making statements like this, right now, sound right but are still not in truth understanding. We can quote statistics about two thirds of the world living on two dollars a day but we have no reference point so those statistics do not register any meaning. In the name of full disclosure, I actually used to think, “Well I’m sure I’m not living on much more than that.” (What arrogance)! But, consider that my family of seven lives on approximately forty thousand dollars a year. Forty thousand is a number most of us can begin to understand. It is not exactly poverty level but it is as close as most of us would care to come. Taken a step further it means we each live on fifteen dollars and fifty cents a day–food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, debt–fifteen dollars and fifty cents a day, not two dollars. In other words, in two thirds of the rest of the world seven and a half people live on the same amount of money as one member of my family. We look at our five bedroom, two and a half bathroom, house and think we could not fit one more person in here. Now try imagining adding thirty-one and a half more people.

Do the math folks. Take you income from last year. (You can even cheat a little and talk your net rather than your gross). Divide it by the number of people you have in your family. Divide that by three hundred-sixty five and you will discover what you have to live on per day. Now figure out how many people you would need to add to your household to equal what two thirds of the world live on every day of every year. You want to get really convicted? One third of the world’s population lives on one dollar a day.

Do you want a quick fix to ease the conviction through the holidays? Head on over to Soles 4 Souls and drop five dollars to buy two pairs of shoes for people without any. Or go to Kivaand give any amount you want for a no-interest loan so someone in a third world country can start a farm or business. My blogroll is actually full of options, ways we can spend a little money, TRULY HELP OTHERS HAVE BETTER LIVES, and feel a bit better about our own lives. Compassion Internationaloffers ways to become a bit more personally involved by sponsoring a child. Thirty two dollars a month will feed, shelter, clothe and educate one child. That means for sixteen cents a day less per person my family can literally be the difference between life and death for one child in a third world nation. That is three children a day in the latte I treat myself to when I go out to write at the free wireless Internet coffee house I like to visit.

I am reminded of the scene in Schindler’s List when Oscar Schindler is about to flee his factory. He starts realizing his wealth–“two people, one maybe two but at least one. I could have gotten one more person”. His pin, his suit, his car, suddenly became lives. We point to the Holocaust and say, “Oh the horror. Never again.” Or, 9-11 and say, “How dare they?!” But, the horror is happening every day–every single day! 

I was being sarcastic when I told you to go sign on at Soles for Souls,etc. and I apologize.  Truly, I am disappointed with myself more than with anyone else.  These organizations do not need our guilt.  They need our hands and hearts.  Actually they need the hands and hearts of Jesus.  And we do not need to guilt ourselves into temporary acts of appeasement.  We need to ask Jesus, the great physician, for permanent transplant operations.  Change takes time.  Beating ourselves up only turns us into agents of the enemy.  We all can begin with prayer and let the Spirit do the rest. 

Lord, begin by making mine a thankful heart!  You have blessed me to be a blessing.  Father, may your will be done in the kingdom of my heart and the kingdom of my mind.  Amen.





  1. amen.

    I have so far to go… but I can feel myself at least starting the journey and it feels great to be able to open my heart & mind to ‘what’s out there’… well actually it feels painful and almost unbearable sometimes that I have to look away when I see too much…. so actually the feeling isn’t necessarily ‘great’ — but ‘right’ maybe. thanks minnow.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. very powerful blog minnow. I love the Schindler example.

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