My friend Sam recently wrote a blog update while in Uganda on a 2-week missions trip with my Church. Here’s a snippet from that:
As I looked into the eyes of a 17-year old boy and he told me what Jesus meant to him, I believed him.
What is it like to live in a world where there is no hope to pursue further education because your family is too poor? Or live in a house where your father was killed by jealous coworkers and you were forced to scrape out a living as a child to survive? What is it like to be raped and beaten, what kind of emotional and physical scars does that leave? Where would you go if you saw your mother, father, brothers and sisters brutally gunned down in front of your eyes?
Sam went on to make this point, quoting from Acts 3:6,
Silver and gold I have none to offer, but the message of the gift of life and God’s gift to the world.
I ended up writing a comment on his Facebook blog post, and I thought it’d be good to re-edit/re-post it here:
Wow, Sam. Thanks for sharing from the midst of Africa. I’m looking forward to hearing more stories when you come back.
Interesting point you brought up though, when you were quoting… Acts 3:6, about the “silver and gold I have none to offer”, because this time in our situation we actually do. Even as “poor” students, we have a lot of financial resources at our disposal, even by North American standards. Compared to most of Africa, we have the ability to change many people’s lives even if solely through financial means.
E.g. Blood:Water mission and Charity: water
(basically, $20 can provide an African person with clean drinking water for 20 years. That’s life-changing. $2,000 can provide a community of 100 African people with clean drinking water for a generation.)
I like how John Piper puts everything in perspective, though:
“The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is.”
In other words, you and I can talk about ending poverty, or we can talk about bringing the Gospel to people lost in spiritual darkness. But the thing that matters is living out a life that makes Jesus your treasure, first, and making it your priority to help others to know Him, followed by the inescapable desire to bring comfort and help to those who need it physically, socially, or emotionally.
Spiritual needs are the most important, even if a person is starving. But a person who says he loves Jesus but does not care about a starving person is living a lie, to a large extent. The solution then is not to force Christians to care for the poor; I believe the solution is to help Christians become great lovers of God so that we naturally want to care for the poor.
That kind of change of heart is what’s known in the biz as a “miracle”.