by Donna L. Watkins
We are privileged to be part of Target Earth, an organization that serves the poor and the earth, because they are so closely tied together. You can't destroy the earth without affecting the poorest who live on it, because they have no means to fight the destruction. Too often Christianity turns a blind eye to environmental issues, but God did command us to steward the earth. Read God: The First Environmentalist.
Gordon Aeschliman is the president of Target Earth and we have been receiving his inspiring letters monthly for a very long time. They make me reflect and take root in what's important in my life. I want to share most of the recent one we've received. In a time when our nation is wrapped up in the "bad economy" we can find joy, blessings and gratefulness for our many advantages here in America.
From Gordon in South Africa:
This week I was handed three cups of rice that had been carried by a woman on a bus journey across four countries. A thank you gift to me for helping her reunite with Robert, her husband who lives in a shack a couple miles from my home. They have lived apart for several years, pushed away by poverty across borders. Robert has been working with me part time to earn enough for her bus fare so they can live together again.
How does one receive such an extravagant thank you? I keep delaying the boiling of that rice in the hopes of discovering an appropriate way to eat the sacred gift. I'll probably end up storing half of it permanently in reach of my eyes - Life for my calcified heart. A rich white man kept on his knees by the lessons of a poor black woman. In a world of so much grabbing, consuming, violence and opulence, a woman clarifies with a handful of rice.
As a child I used to belt out the song, "Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more!" How can one WANT after such a substantial meal: grains of rice offered up in a faded recycled plastic bag? I know the lyricist of the hymn was calling us toward Christ in a doctrinal way, but Jesus himself said we find our way to Him through the "least of these." This woman's deed of gratitude is a plumb line to my consuming ways, my desire for more.
For the past ten days we have hosted university students in an intensive program in the most stunningly beautiful parts of Cape Town, South Africa ... Tomorrow we take the students to Khayelitsha where for two weeks they will live with those who know the value of a cup of rice. The wealthy will eat at the tables of those who live on the margins, with those who point the way to Jesus through their empty purses and full hearts. I am continually shocked by the generosity of those who have nothing, by the purity of those who love from the place of barren shelves ....
Our hope of course is that they will find a kind of Life that could be lived into a different future, a life that is friendly to the earth and the poor ....
That's the kind of life I desire to live. We don't have the up close and personal daily reminders that Gordon gets while living in areas that have the poorest of the poor, but we can be reminded of the reality of our world with a global perspective. At the very least it should cause us to stop griping and focus on the many blessings that surround us, even though we tend to ungratefully ignore them.
There are great promises of God regarding the poor. This is my favorite:
"Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness." Psalm 41:1-3
Visit the Target Earth website. Get involved. Do you want to be out of debt? Get a focus beyond yourself and God will get you out of debt faster than you can imagine. He did it for us back in the early 90's, mortgage and all .. He can do it for you. Go beyond the need for stuff and buy into the real reason we're here on earth.
Have you seen the video, The Story of Stuff? It's entertaining and enlightening. It can be your first step to living debt-free.
Read some incredibly inspiring stories of people who are taking up the challenge to live more simply: Fabulously Frugal - Living The Simple Life. And that doesn't mean living in a cave with meals cooked on a campfire. One couple spends several months a year in France.