Friday, May 9, 2014

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.” ― John Steinbeck

My wife and I often talk about the parallel universes in which we both have lived.  The rich universe is almost never aware of the other, but the poor universe is daily aware of the rich one.  In many places, the poor hate the rich and the rich simply ignore the poor.  It is not so here.  Here the poor assume the rich are that way because God has blessed them and that they, too, may someday rejoice in those same blessings.  In the meantime, they love, live, and try to be good parents, good children, good students, and caring people.  The poor here will go without food if they know you are coming for a meal so that they can give you a good meal.  They will give you their possessions if they think you need them.  Of course, in every society there are those who lie and steal to improve their own lot—take the bankers that benefited from the ruin of so many good people beginning in 2008.  Here, though, things are different.  Corrupt politicians take money away from the poor for their own use, but the poor are generous, caring, friendly, and just accept that the rich live by different rules.  I once visited an old, blind pastor who had only one small stool in his hut—it was his only piece of furniture.  He was so honored by my visit that he insisted that I take it with me when I left, and I had to to avoid deeply insulting him.  Our staff and our neighbors frequently bring us fruit and nuts that they have grown expecting nothing in return.  They turn to Christ so readily and so quickly because so much of His message was directed to the poor and the hope and promise He brought them.  We have no trouble planting churches here, in fact, sometimes they create their own and then ask to join Methodism.  We have three new churches who did just that.  They have no Bibles, and their lay pastors have no bicycles to reach nearby villages.  Only $1,000 would buy three bicycles and 100 Bibles to equip these new churches.  It is for this we reach out to you.  The church members have no doubt that you will respond—it matters not how long it takes—they believe in other Christians helping Christians.  The children in the picture at the right don't know that they are poor because they have Christ.  Sometimes they shame me for the way I’ve been thinking, but mostly they fill me with joy.  As the old sermon said, “It may be Friday night—but Sunday’s coming!  I have never known that feeling as I do here.  I have never lived with a people so caring, loving, and who live as if Christ is coming next week—and maybe He is.  They will be ready, will you?  
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