Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Clarify (10/15/15)
- TITLE: Two-Liter Flip Flops
By Lisa Hudson
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Is it any wonder that so many are trying to cross our borders illegally, with the hope of a better life? Why wouldn’t they? The poor are being given free food, free cell phones, free medical and dental care and even free housing if they meet a certain criteria. Yet they are still considered to be in poverty. I myself have family members who are benefitting from these public programs, but they have also become experts at working the system. In reality, they are able-bodied, to work and earn a living, but have chosen not to. I believe the time has come to realize our blessings, and clarify what poverty really is.
There are children in our country who really do go hungry. There are families living in tents with no clean water and no heat or air conditioning. Why don’t we hear about them? How is it that they have missed out on the many free programs so readily available? I know there are families in America who are genuinely impoverished, and they are the ones who truly need our help. Perhaps they are too proud to take something they haven’t earned. I believe this is where the church needs to step up, and give help to ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25:40).
What about the commercials where a doe-eyed little girl gazes into the camera lens, and upon closer examination, you can see flies hovering around her mouth and eyes, and her bones protruding from her little shoulders and frail arms? Or the little boys who are naked with their little protruding bellies sticking out, as their skeleton-like frames struggle to hold them up to stand? I say to myself, “That is true poverty”.
As individuals, we need to find that place where we are most humbled, and act upon the lessons we learn from that moment. I had a dear friend share with me an experience from her visit to Africa on a mission trip. She refers to it as her ‘Aha!’ moment. First, she and the other women were deeply humbled by the fact that the little children couldn’t even swallow the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they had prepared. The texture was too much for their little throats that were so used to nothing.
Another moment, and the most profound for me, was when she was asked to come to a pitiful hut-like home, and pray for a young man who was literally dying from hunger. All she could think about was how we worry about what we will wear, or what car we want to drive. We whine because we have to eat hamburger instead of steak. We freak out if we run out of toilet paper. This dying young man, as well as the many people around him, just wanted my friend to pray that he wouldn’t die today. He was throwing up and had cramping diarrhea, as he laid on a bench made of sticks. No bed to find comfort in, and no pillow to hold his head up. And I ask you, what did he have to use when he had to crawl on the ground to go outside to use the bathroom, in the dirt, right outside of his hut?
How many of us wake up and sincerely ask, “God, please just let me live today”. She came home a changed person, as I know so many missionaries do. Perhaps we all could use a dose of reality like this, in order to receive a clear picture of what poverty really is. I hope to ‘go’ someday, for myself.
One final note. Like me, you probably have many pairs of shoes to choose from each day. While scanning some pictures posted by friends on Facebook, I came across a photo of a man’s feet. He wore a couple of empty two-liter bottles that were squashed flat, with some material tied to them to concoct his own pair of flip flops. This, my dear ones, is poverty.
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