Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Semana de Pobreza - Dia 2...

Reflections on "Poverty Week" at El Pozo:

Tuesday – A Day Without (Much) Money…

So first thing this morning I was checking the news and I came across this article on NPR’s Twitter feed:

Money Can Buy Happiness

Funny, since today is the day during which we’ve challenged ourselves and our students to live on 25 pesos or less – about two bucks. The reason for doing this is that that’s how about half of the world lives every day.

Really, it didn’t affect my life too drastically. It basically affected my lunch. I had some breakfast here at the house (finally got those waffles I wanted so badly yesterday), and then went to work. I had to walk on by my juice guy. Normally three or four times a week I stop for a liter of fresh-squeezed orange or mandarin juice. Not today. Those 20 pesos would be needed later for the midday meal.

For lunch I spent 19.50 pesos on a “quesarina” árabe – either a flour tortilla taco with cheese or a quesadilla with meat, depending on your perspective. Normally I would eat two or three of these, but today it would just be one. I chewed slowly and enjoyed every bite. Later, just before En Vivo, I spent 6 more pesos (bringing my total to 25.50) on a Dr. Pepper. I savored every drop – except for the ones I shared with a couple of friends who asked for a swallow.

En Vivo was great – slim crowd at first because of an exam week and typical, frustrating Mexican lack of punctuality. I would guess we had 70+ by the end, though, maybe 80. It was really great to interview Moi about his summer among the poorest of the poor working with Missions of Hope International in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. I think we raised awareness and planted some seeds in some hearts regarding the reality of world poverty, and it’s always fun to mix it up and do things differently on a Tuesday night. And we are so proud of Moi!

We served a typical Mathare meal which was basically a small helping of glorified mashed potatoes, and water. We gave every sixth person an empty glass to represent the fact that every sixth person in the world lacks access to clean water.

Then about 35 folks hung around and watched “One In A Million”, the excellent documentary produced by CMF (our parent/sending organization) about one young man’s story in Mathare. I cannot recommend this 35-minute film highly enough – please check it out!!! It's a moving story. For me there are two moments in particular that really get to me - ask me later which ones!

Reflecting on all of this, I couldn’t help but think of a couple of texts from 1 Timothy chapter 6, plus some of the classic words of Jesus on the topic of money:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” – Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13

The NPR article was an interesting and logical study. But it also does not change the ancient and profound truths on which I’m building my life. There’s nothing more frustrating than Christians who deny reality and disconnect themselves from the real world in the name of “following the Bible”. But, as Author Dallas Willard points out, even as we call ourselves Christians we are often willing to learn from everyone BUT Jesus. I guess the important question for the day is, “Who knows more about life, who is smarter – Jesus or the latest study?” And maybe this one: “What is the ‘happiness’ mentioned in the article anyway, and is attaining it my goal in life?”

Tomorrow: A Day Without WHEELS. Time to walk it out.

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