Sunday, February 7, 2010

What We Can Learn From the Poor

Last Thursday night marked the 3rd annual This is Love banquet in Nashville, organized by my friends over at Global Support Mission. I always enjoy hearing Travis and the guys speaking about their vision for Global Support because it refreshes my heart and echoes my own desires about how I believe we can *best* help other countries grow towards a place of self-sustainability.
This year, the guest speaker was Michael Hyatt, of Thomas Nelson publishing. He spoke about "What We (Christians) Can Learn From the Poor," and I found myself very attuned to what he had to say. Oh, how my heart needed to hear that message. I've been lucky enough to see firsthand the lessons we can learn, and yet I find myself drifting through more and more days at a time without reflecting on it. Humility. Gratitude. Contentment. Community.
I haven't forgotten by any means these qualities that I saw daily in people like Betty, Mama Susan (and all the mamas of Amani), Daisy, Faith, and Sarah... but I feel so stagnant in how to more actively apply them to my life. Michael gave this quote:
"The rich exist for the sake of the poor; the poor exist for the salvation of the rich."-St. John Chrysostom
I know for a fact I would not be who I am today without encountering the poverty in a foreign country firsthand, or without going out to those few soup kitchens and homeless outreaches (very few, I'm almost ashamed) of years past. And it's funny, because a lot of you, myself included, consider ourselves to be in the poorer subgroup of Americans. Until very recently, I've been in that broke, dollar-menu/ramen-eating college student subgroup who consider all sorts of things like plasma donation and medical studies to earn an extra dollar. And for a little while, I'll be in that "I have a job but I'm stuck paying off debts for the next 10-20 years" subgroup as well. Rich? Not in this country. But poor? Nothing close. Though, the more and more I think about it, I need to start living a lot more frugally than I do. Since getting back from the last Uganda trip (which I cannot believe was a year ago already), I try to be well-satisfied in my non-upgraded, brown carpet one-bedroom apartment, to shop for discounts when I need clothing, and to use coupons whenever possible. Save energy. Not worry so much if my highlights are 2 or 3 or 6 months grown out. The things I think about cutting down on really do seem sort of silly, dont they?
Who really needs a new outfit when a mother in Uganda considers a non-matching, out of style, and possibly not even gender appropriate set of clothes to be a treasure as long as it isnt full of holes and clay stains? I dont own anything that could be considered close to rags. On the little planet scale, I'm still richer than 99% of the world's population, or something close to that.
Towards the end of his speech, Michael also gave another quote that pierced directly to my current situation:

"Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything,"- Bob Pierce, founder World Vision.


Dear Amanda,
Stop being so frustrated with not knowing when your next trip to Uganda or another country will be. Stop hating your current circumstances so much that depression overtakes you and you lose the energy and time to be more proactive just because you are coddling the aches of your heart. Do what you said you wanted to do while "stuck" in the States... help where you are. Do what you can.
Somebody who knows your future better than you.

Sidenote: Mr. Hyatt also provided everyone at the banquet with a book, which I am currently starting. It's called "The Hole in Our Gospel" and it's by Richard Stearns. I'm excited to read it. Book club, anyone?