I recently had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary “58:”, a film commissioned by Compassion International with support from several other ministries. The movie detailed stories of people living in poverty and enslavement around the world. The documentary was very well done and I highly encourage you to check out the film and the accompanying website and book. The premise is that we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime if we would simply have the will. We have the resources and the technology and have in fact made great strides in the last 20 years. However, we can do better and put an end to poverty sooner rather than later.
What really got to me watching the movie was seeing real individuals, people just like you and me, who are living in conditions we cannot even imagine. One family in India is living as indentured slaves to work off a loan they will never be able to pay. The entire family – mother, children and father – work from dawn until dusk splitting rocks by hand in a quarry. The work is hot and backbreaking, and there are no days off for rest or sickness. Once the parents die, the debt will be passed on to the children to perpetuate the unending cycle of abuse.
People should not have to live under these conditions. I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus told us to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. As followers of Jesus, we must not stand idly by while brothers and sisters are tortured and abused by society. We have a call to loose the chains of the prisoners and to seek justice for all people (Isaiah 58:6). We have a responsibility to use our time and resources to serve those less fortunate than ourselves. As Jesus said in Luke 12:47-48, much is expected from those who have been given more than others. Why do we live in such luxury and ease while so many suffer needlessly? We are squandering wealth on our own comforts instead of providing for the poor. The very reason we have been blessed with so much is so that we might share with others out of our abundance (Acts 4:32; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14). It’s time we stop trying to keep up with the Jones’ and learn to serve them instead.
Each of us must take a hard look at how we are spending the resources entrusted to us by God. Are we too busy to be able to sacrifice and make a commitment to work for those in need? If we are, it’s time to reprioritize our schedule so that the majority of our time is spent serving the Kingdom instead of ourselves. If we can’t free up any cash to donate to those in need, then I would say we are spending for the pleasures of this life rather than the treasures of the next. If you make over $25,000 (US) dollars per year, you are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on the planet. This isn’t about wealth redistribution or inequality; it’s about helping someone in need from the blessings you have received. This is what Jesus told us to do (Matthew 25:31-46), and it is what we must do if we are to be true followers of Christ.
We can end poverty in our lifetime; we can be the last generation to see its devastating effects. We have the money if we are willing to give. We have the time if we are willing to serve. All that remains is the will to get it done.