A Lot With A Little

Just yesterday my wife and I visited a family who live up in the mountains. Their life is simple. Their house is simple. They're a family directly connected to our ministry of 20+ years in the Philippines (www.rainbowvm.org). They're young and have two young children. In the eyes of the world they are poor—and they are poor by most any standard. But we were amazed at how much they've done with so little.

A couple years ago they wanted to get married, but couldn't afford the legal requirements to do so, let alone the cost of a wedding itself. We had visited their home to help with the process. Their little nipa and bamboo house was not complete, but it's theirs. We helped them get through the process and set up a wedding ceremony at Rainbow, even though we couldn't attend (having already returned to the US). Their wedding was simple, but they were delighted.

This year visited them for a birthday celebration for their son. We were blessed to see they had finished their house with a kitchen (see photos), sala (living area), along with their bedroom. They don't have much to live on and we try helping them with work at Rainbow one day a week. But still, they do what they can with the little they have.

I'm reminded of a couple of Bible verses that fit their life situation. After the fall (the entrance of sin into the world) God tells Adam and Eve the immediate consequence upon their lives. He tells Adam that, "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" (Gen 3:17-19). In other words, man will need to work. They both do that, in fact they're hard workers and we've seen proof of it. In fact, the husband is leaving this Saturday to work in Manila, away from his young family, since he can't find regular work near his home.

Recently, while walking and driving in and around our town, I've been impacted by the level of poverty that exists for so many. At our hotel in Manila, there's a poster proclaiming the use of solar energy for "climate justice." Below it is another poster telling of a social justice conference. Somehow that bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I like the use of solar energy (I'm a holdover from the 60's). It just seems like the priorities get mixed up along the way.

I'm reminded of another Scripture that seems paradoxical. Jesus, after being anointed with a very expensive, sweet smelling ointment, defends the woman who has anointed Him. He says, "the poor you always have with you." Jesus was misunderstood then (by Judas, a thief it turns out—John 12:6-8), and His statement is still misunderstood. Jesus was simply saying, there will always be people who are poor—no jobs, victims of oppression and injustice, and various other circumstances.

But what can be done to reduce world poverty? The question is rather, what can we personally do with what we have? What one person can do may seem small compared to the great needs there are within the world. It is. But something is better than doing nothing. A lot of somethings can bring real change. Even one simple thing can change another person's life. As we plunge ahead into a New Year, let's do what we can with what we have, even if it seems like too little. It's not.

PS—Over the next couple weeks I'll be in South Thailand doing some teaching. I may not have much access to the internet, so if nothing is posted next week, I trust you'll understand. Thanks for reading!