The other day I was sitting with a friend of mine at a local food joint when a sweet, elderly woman came up to us.
‘Jambo. Nisaidie. Shillingi ishirini ata kumi’
‘Hello please help me with 20 shillings or even just 10′
We very kindly told her with a smile, ‘Pole, si leo’ ‘sorry, not today.’
My friend then turned to me and said, “You know, when I meet people like that, I always think about the scripture that talks about Jesus separating the goats from the sheep. One day, I will stand before him and he will say to me, ‘I came to you because I was in need and you denied me.'”
We sat there silently for a few minutes convicted by the thought.
Living around the poor is so tough. We don’t really experience it in Canada. How many friends do you have that will not be eating supper tonight because they can’t afford it? Sure, there are people around us who don’t have great paying jobs, are in debt, can’t afford to drive a nice car, or can’t afford to by the latest gadget but I am not talking about these things. That is not poverty. That is just lacking nice things.
I am talking about people who have nothing. I mean nothing. Their kids don’t go to school. Their kids wear the same clothes everyday and never have shoes. They make less than $1 a day. They wake up in the morning not knowing where their next meal will come from. They get sick yet can’t see a doctor because doctors cost money. They have no luxuries like TV or radio or even books or playing cards instead they play with old plastic bottles and little stones. They sit around because there is no work or they don’t have enough education to get a decent job. Families of 5 live in a one small room and share a toilet with 30 other people. That kind of poor.
When was the last time you went with out a meal?
I guess I have been thinking about it more lately. I have a lot of friends who live like this. They will have $2 to live on for the next 5 days. They will eat a banana for breakfast and some bread for supper and thats all for the day. They will feel hunger pains that we can’t even imagine. I have seen it first hand and lived it with them. Well, sort of. Until I get too uncomfortable that is. For me, it’s easier because I know that if I am desperately hungry, I have a savings account I can access at any time.
If I gave something to every poor person I meet or every sweet lady who comes and asks me for a few cents here in Kenya, I would be broke tomorrow. The need is overwhelming. I struggle too because I am white and people believe that I have unending riches. But if I try to teach them to lean on God yet hand out money to them whenever they need it, then who are they really leaning on?
Jesus loves the poor. He has a huge heart for the poor. So if you hang out with the poor, you are bound to meet Jesus. The poor have faith like I have never seen before. I get it when James 2:5 talks about the poor being rich in faith and inheriting the kingdom of God. They will trust in God alone to provide. If God provides 3 days later, they will turn back to Him and give Him praises while forgetting about the 3 days they went hungry.
Not all poor people are like this. Don’t get me wrong. There are those who steal, cheat, prostitute themselves just to eat. There are those who die of ulcers from worrying so much. There are those who go to witchdoctors to make potions of prosperity. They are not all full of faith. But I have seen more poor people with genuine, steadfast faith.
There is a man who walks around Mombasa town. I think he is mentally lacking something. Maybe due to drugs or a birth defect. I don’t know. But he intrigues me. Now I see him, I divert my eyes because most of the time he is naked or wearing torn shorts and, if you are not careful, you will get more than your eyes bargained for. He has not clothes let alone shoes. He probably never bathes. He just lives on the street. Sometimes I see him fast asleep on the pavement in the hot sun with noisy cars passing by. He must eat because he doesn’t have a really scrawny body but is quite built. He doesn’t care what people think of him and he never really bothers people. He just lives in his own little world and day by day somehow he gets by. I don’t know what his faith is like and I don’t know whats really going on in his mind but he seems content. There is something about his life I admire. No cares in the world. He survives.
I don’t know.
As you can tell, my thoughts are mumble jumbled. I go back and forth.
All I can say is that I am blessed to mingle with the poor. I am excited to be apart of their lives. To be their friends. Not merely just to give to them but to live with them. After all, there is the rich and the poor and the Lord is the maker of all of them.
Alot of my thoughts were sort of spurred on by an article I read this morning. I suggest you read it. You can find it here.