December 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Poverty. Starvation. Emptiness. Distant. Filth.
These are the images I witnessed this past week as our church emphasized missions, and I researched the extreme poverty that exists in our world to find stories and videos that I could share with our students to raise awareness of the needs of the world we live in. It is reported that over half of the world’s population live on less than $2 a day and before we try to explain that statistic away let’s be careful to consider first how richly God has blessed us.
I have also learned that a child under the age of five dies every four seconds due to extreme poverty. Consider this: in the time that it takes you to read this post, 45 children will have died from circumstances outside his/her control. Many of these children exist without adult supervision because their parents are deceased or are trying to survive themselves. Many are being raised by older siblings who are just children themselves. Many are being expolited sexually or through child labor or a combination of the two.
Images of tiny skeletons thinly wrapped in skin expose more than the structure of their bodies’ 208 bones – it exposes the reality of the world we live in… inequities that can be easily observed… scales that have been tipped in the favor of a few… believers desperately in need of compassion and children desperately in need of food.
While the images may cause us to be nauseous, ignorance is not an option.
And the question begs, now what?
What do I do with this information? What is my responsibility as a Christian whose God says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
I am going to take a risk here and admit, “I’m not entirely sure.”
But here is what I do know: the devil would like nothing more than to distract me from the spiritual needs of this world by causing me to focus and be broken for physical needs only. Even a starving child who receives nourishment, shelter, medicine, and an education will do so for just one lifetime. As bad as the physical needs of others are in this world – and we have a clear command from God to care for the widowed and orphaned – each one of us is in desperate need of rescue because of the sinful state we are born into.
There is not one physical need in this world that is greater than our spiritual need.
As you consider what your role will be in answering the call of (1) the Gospel and (2) James 1:27, do some research looking for churches/organizations/ministries that put the spiritual need ahead of the physical need. Post your findings to our Facebook page or comment here.
Raise the Risk Challenge:
- Meditate on extreme global poverty this week. Use your lunch break to fill your mind/heart instead of filling your stomach. Watch videos, view images, read scripture/blogs, pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit.
- The purpose of the church can be best summed up in Matthew 28:19-20 and Matthew 22:37-40. Set up a meeting with one of your pastors exploring how you can live out the Great Commission (missions) and how you can love your neighbor biblically.
- Take a chance and do something. For inspiration, see what 9-year old Austin Gutwein did with a basketball for orphans in Zambia. www.hoopsofhope.org