Our small group is reading The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision's president, Rich Stearns. It's messing me up a bit. And I'm not even halfway through it. Stearns beautifully shares his own journey toward caring for the least, forgotten, and misfits of our planet. He does so with conviction, humility, passion, and calling. One of the most difficult aspects about poverty to me is the haunting question, "Am I doing enough?" It's a tension-filled question I hope I never get comfortable with answering "yes".
At the beginning of one section of his book, he quotes John Berger:
The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.
While America only accounts for less than 5% of the world's population, we live on 50 times money more than 2.6 billion people on the planet. And along with the other wealthiest countries (top 20% of the world), we consume 90% of the world's health care dollars. And that's just the beginning of it all...
Bottom Line: We consume more than we give. We give out of our excess. We ignore the extreme poor because it's just too hard, too challenging, too uncomfortable.
I'm really uncomfortable with this knowledge, and I don't know how to best respond. Yet I'm grateful that 2 little Ethiopian lives are changing my priorities, reminding me that no one is nothing. And I'm grateful for our little small group who's committed to living differently on earth as it is in heaven.
Look forward to more postings on The Hole in our Gospel (and get uncomfortable). I can't highly enough recommend you reading it with a few others. Don't read it alone. You need to read it with others who will gently, firmly nudge you to live differently.