Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A wealth of faith (Presbyterian Outlook)

A wealth of faith (Presbyterian Outlook, free registration required:

"It was easy to feel sorry for them. The poor, displaced, battered citizens of New Orleans confronted us with the disparity of economic life in America.

But as the days turned to weeks, another subtext began to surface, showing an even greater disparity. A surprising number of the poor were, in fact, rich in spirit. Despite having little, they showed an enormous depth of spiritual understanding and a remarkable display of extravagant faith.

An elderly woman, finally pulled from her house after days of waiting, seemed surprisingly peaceful as television crews filmed her rescue. When a reporter asked if she was glad the rescuers had finally arrived she said, “Yes, I’m glad to see them. But I had the Lord with me whether anyone else showed up or not....”

-- Guest Viewpoint by Dale Hanson Rourke

Stories like this are not easy to find in the news, but that is not because such stories are rare. I have been on several mission work trips to areas where there is great poverty, yet the people whom we served were able to show us their great faith. It is a humbling experience.

It is easy to be faithful when life is going well, what if things go sour? How will I feel if everything I own is washed away? How will I show my faith if confessing Jesus places me in danger of my losing life or liberty?

Rourke ends with this:

"...But after days of seeing true saints, it is clear that America is greatly divided between the haves and have-nots. Spiritually speaking, many of those who started with little and lost even that still came out ahead of the rest of us. Their theology was not based on lines of credit or insurance claims or disaster plans.

Many of the poorest people in this country understood what the rest of us still struggle to comprehend: Faith is not based on circumstances, and true riches cannot be washed away by storms."

I hope we all can take this lesson and come to a greater understanding of what faith really is. It will be hard, since for most of us, our experience does not equip up to truly understand what the people in the Gulf Coast states went through. we all need to let God lead us in our struggle to serve Him and all his people.


Michael W. Kruse said...

My experience has been that mission trips that truly involve interaction with the poor have much more impact on the missionaries than they do on the poor.

Denis Hancock said...

That is what we tell people who go on mission trips. Do not expect to come back the same. If only we could harness the spiritual energy that people have while returning from serving...