Has there ever been a time in your life when God kept bringing up a something OVER and OVER and OVER again? I mean, I know I’m can be a slow learner but, sometimes I just want to yell out “OKAY! I get it already. Geez Louise!”
This summer, God was relentless in speaking to me about poverty–particularly childhood poverty–and what a Christian response should be.
It all started with this book…
Given that this book was written by Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision, I expected it to be a marketing tool for the organization. Turns out, it was a call to action. “What does God expect of us?” Does He really mean it when he says to feed the hungry or take care of the widowed and orphaned? Are those things optional?
The title of the book came from an experiment conducted by a group of seminary students. They literally cut out every Biblical command that spoke about the poverty, wealth, justice and oppression. What was left? The Holy Bible had become a very holey Bible.
Throughout the book, Stearns used scripture to show solid theological basis for his challenge and, I might add, to convict. It worked. Boy did it work. I couldn’t get this book off of my mind!
I finally set it aside tried to clear the air by reading one of my Book Club’s selections….
Come on! This was supposed to be leisure reading for crying out loud! In case you haven’t heard about this New York Times bestseller, it’s the memoir of Jeannette Walls–a very successful writer from New York City. She currently runs with the Park Avenue crowd who probably were shocked to discover that she once lived in extreme poverty. At one point, she was hiding in the girls’ bathroom at school so she could salvage leftover food out of the trash can. It’s the kind of book that makes to continually check spine label because you hope there’s been some kind of mistake: “Surely this is fiction, not a memoir!” It further opened my eyes to childhood poverty and how kids suffer from either a lack of resources or parental neglect.
Shortly after reading these books, I went on a mission trip with our church’s youth group. We spent a week packing 2000 hot sack lunches that were sent out to children in the inner-city of a Texas town every day (a place where few would even guess that there IS an inner-city). The experience was amazing and amazingly wonderful. Something that the pastor said has stuck with me: adults in their city have numerous opportunities for social services–from food and groceries to free massages!–but children can not stand in line at an aid organization. They are pretty much helpless and at the mercy of the adults in their lives. Once again, God was tapping on my heart’s door.
Since I read a book by WorldVision’s CEO, I figured I should keep all things equal and read Wess Stafford’s book as well….
By the way, Wess Stafford just happens to be the president of another huge Christian aid organization, Compassion International. What do you think this one was about? You guessed it: the importance of children, the vulnerability of children, God’s love for children….
After being pounded on the head for several months with reoccurring themes–children, poverty, children, poverty–I finally got the message. Then came the hard part: doing something about it.
At this point, my husband picked up his red phone–the one in his office with a direct line to God–and The Guy Upstairs must have told him to whip out a sermon that would make wriggle on my pew. Behold, this juicy morsel of scripture:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice…” ~I Samuel 15:22.
These are just a few ways that God has been speaking to me. Yes–believe it or not–there have been more! It’s been an interesting six months or so. I’m excited about several opportunities that have presented themselves, and I’m glad that God has opened my eyes to something that I had pretty much chosen to ignore until now.
I get it, God. I really do. Let’s get started….