“Ronnie, a blind boy who lives in eastern Uganda, is unique not because of his circumstances or the fact that he is blind, but because of his love for Jesus. If you were to meet Ronnie, one of the first things you would hear him say is, “I love Jesus so much, and I sing praises to Him every day!”
One of Ronnie’s closest friends is a girl who is deaf. What stands out about these two isn’t that they are handicapped or very poor, but that they are totally content and obviously in love with Jesus. They possess very little of what “counts” in our society, yet they have what matters most. They came to God in their great need, and they have found true joy.
Because we don’t usually have to depend on God for food, money to buy our next meal, or shelter, we don’t feel needy. In fact, we generally think of ourselves as fairly independent and capable. Even if we aren’t rich, we are ‘doing just fine.’
If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4000 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet? Simply by purchasing this book, you spent what a majority of people in the world will make in a week’s time.
Which is more messed up – that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves “broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a Scottish pastor who died at the age of twenty-nine. Although he lived in the early part of the nineteenth century, his words are astoundingly appropriate for today:
‘I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day….I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity.’”
This passage from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love was so convicting for me; it’s the same as when I meet a new family in Mexico and realize something new every single time. This was my second house as an intern, my sixth house with Casas in general, and I feel like it’s finally beginning to hit me. My first build in 2007 obviously hit me pretty hard because I had never been exposed to poverty. God rocked my world that spring break and the thought of Mexico stuck with me. I thought of all the kids that might grow up not ever having the opportunity to go to school, the opportunity to learn about Jesus, the opportunity to walk out of their homes without being afraid of what might happen to them.
What really hit me this week was the fact that this family had been waiting two years for a house. Two years. 730 days living in a small shack with seven other people, making eleven total. And I complain about my small bedroom in my apartment.
We have so many things that we take for granted. I’m sure most of you realize this. We have the freedom to choose what we might like to do with our lives. We have the freedom to attend school even if we can’t afford it. We have the freedom to leave our homes at night and return safely. I can take a shower every day. I can get on my computer and talk to people around the world. We can come home to our air conditioning. We know (most of the time) where our next meal is coming from.
Each family receives something called a hygiene bag, which just has different things for them to use to clean their house and also things like toothbrushes. But the one thing that got me (and I had no idea about this until yesterday) was the waterless shampoo. They get waterless shampoo to use in the winter when the water is too cold to wash their hair. Can you imagine? I can’t.
Last night, some of us interns were talking and praying and a friend of mine brought up a good point. When you’re driving the border you can see the nice, brick homes on the El Paso side and the cardboard shacks on the Juarez side. What did those people do to deserve nice homes that the people of Juarez didn’t do? The people I’ve met in Mexico are some of the most loving, hard-working people I’ve ever met, yet they make nothing, if they can even find a job.
Yesterday we dedicated our second house and the family made us lunch. Tortillas, chicken mole, rice, and Mexican Coca-Cola (my absolute favorite). When you think about it, it probably cost them almost a months salary to make us lunch. That’s how much this small house meant to them.
My life during the school year is so superficial. I worry about the stupidest things. Never once have I had to worry if I am going to be cold tonight or if I’m going to get a meal tonight. I am not sure that I completely get it yet, what the families feel when they receive a home, but I’m hoping and praying that God will break my heart for them.
I know this was long and that I may have rambled, but I feel like there are so many feelings running through me right now. We have one build this weekend and then one more next week before we start leading teams, and I’m beginning to get nervous.
I am so glad that I decided to come despite the fact that Juarez may be dangerous. So many people have turned their backs on Mexico and I want the people here to know that God hasn’t and that we haven’t.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8:31