As I was reading my Bible this evening, I really felt God leading me to dive deeper into what His word says about the poor. After coming home from our last trip, I read A Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision. It is an amazing and eye-opening book that I highly recommend. So many sections stood out to me, but I want to share one that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind and is the inspiration of this study of what God says about poverty and helping the poor.
The author talks about his friend Jim Wallis who, as a seminary student, conducted an experiment with a few of his classmates. They perused all 66 books of the Bible, underlining every passage and verse dealing with poverty, wealth, justice, and oppression. After this, one of the men took scissors and cut out each of those verses leaving a tattered Bible that barely held together. When Jim would speak in public about poverty he would hold this Bible up and say, "Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of holes. Each one of us might as well take our Bibles, a pair of scissors, and begin cutting out all the scriptures we pay no attention to, all the biblical texts that we just ignore."
That is a very powerful illustration that at times is hard to accept. But unfortunately it is entirely accurate. If you don't believe me, then just watch the news. Did you see all the footage of the Black Friday madness? People were getting beat up, and crazy ladies were pepper spraying people because they tried to take an X-Box she wanted. I understand that's the extreme end of the spectrum but as Americans we live with a mentality that everyone in the world lives as we do. Unfortunately, it's just not so.
That thought is overwhelming me tonight. As I sit warm and safe in my own room, one of many rooms in my home, complete with a bed, electricity, the computer I'm typing on and more, there are young women just like me sleeping on the hard ground. They have no dressers filled with clothes. For some, what they are wearing might be all they own. There are children who went to bed hungry tonight, and tomorrow morning they will still be hungry because their families have no money for food. There are babies crying who won't be held, and old grandmothers who have no idea how they will provide for their grandchildren now that they have been left orphaned by AIDS.
Please know that it was not my intention to make anyone feel guilty, but rather I am trying to give perspective, as well as process all the thoughts in my head. What we see today, everything that surrounds us right now, it isn't the norm in this world. It's easy to think that because it's what we see immediately in front of us, but over 40% of people in this world live on less than $2 a day. That's almost half of the 6.5 billion people living and breathing on this earth.
And tonight, I can't quite seem to wrap my mind around that.