I have been working with the extreme poor, people who live on less than $1.00 a day, for over 18 years. Over these years there has been many sorrows, seeing the conditions in which they live and the tragedies they experience. However, seeing the world through the eyes of the poor has also broadened my world view and made me exceedingly thankful for the things I have and the people in my life.
Having sat in hundreds of church services in some of the world’s poorest communities I have found the extreme poor to be wonderful examples of people of faith and hope. Some have become my heroes and many I admire for their deep love for God in the midst of pain and struggle.
Below are nine things I have witnessed the poor thank God for, while living in extreme poverty:
- The Small Things: Maybe it is earning 25 cents today, or having electricity for an extra hour, or having a pencil to take to school this morning, the extreme poor are grateful for little things that come their way. What we take for granted, poor Christians are giving thanks to God for them.
- Daily Provision: When you don’t have a refrigerator, a bank account, or a regular paying job the fact that there is food for you and your children to eat is not overlooked. Waking up this morning, I didn’t give much thought about where my next meal was coming from, but for the poor, today’s challenge is providing today’s meal. My father would always pray before each meal “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful”. Amen.
- A Christian Community: We don’t naturally think that living in a crowded slum area, people would experience loneliness. However, scripture says, “The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, while the rich have many friends”, Proverbs 14:20. However, if you are Christian living in an African slum and there is a church nearby, you have a place to go and fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. They may not be able to help you financially but spiritual comfort and prayer support are huge blessings to the poor.
- Standing before God: In India, an often taught passage of scripture is Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” At the foot of the cross, there is no caste system, no rich nor poor. The church is the only institution where poor and rich can sit in the same row and worship together. The poor are thankful for the love and respect shown to them by God.
- Protection: A slum community is one of the most dangerous places on earth. Drunkenness, drug use, and gangs make slums a violent and volatile place to live. 1 Peter 5:7-9 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…”. No one feels more vulnerable to the “enemy” than a person with no savings, no job, and no home. God is their fortress and their trust is in Him for protection.
- Health: In a poor community a cold can easily turn into pneumonia, a mosquito bite can lead to Malaria, a cup of water can bring dysentery, a cut can become infected and lead to other more serious illnesses. Doctors and medicines are hard to come by so when you are healthy you give thanks to God.
- Rain: A severe drought is currently taking place in the Horn of Africa. Many people fall into extreme poverty because of such conditions. When was the last time you thanked God for rain?
- Jesus: He is our Savior and friend. For the poor, faith in Jesus gives hope for eternity. Never having to live in a garbage dump or shanty house again, and knowing your future house is a mansion with streets of gold and no more illness, suffering, or death is a wonderful hope.
- You: Whenever I travel I tell the poor about the donors to our projects. I share how a nine year old boy raked leaves to raise money for the food program. I tell them about the family who prays for them and has given a small amount every month for the last year so their children can go to school. I share how an elderly couple gave part of their life’s savings through their will to fund 30 orphans to go to college for the next four years. The poor know your gifts to them are a sacrifice and they thank God for you and your generosity.
The life of a poor person is hard; I don’t think I would survive long living on less than $1.00 a day. It is awful and grotesque, but out of these horrible conditions come some of the Godliest people I have ever met. They love, trust and thank God for simple things that I take for granted almost every day.
Please leave a comment about what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
November comes from the Latin word “novem”, which means the number “nine”. Each member of the Christian Writers Blog Chain is writing this month using a theme of “nine”. Check them out at www.ChristianWriters.com
- 11/1: Traci Bonney, Tracings
- 11/2: James Wood, Envision Presentations
- 11/3: Mike Johnson, The College Field Manual
- 11/4: Sue Ewing, Little Bits
- 11/5: Keith Wallis, wordsculptures
- 11/6: Jacky Brown, JayBees Blog
- 11/7: Brian Jones, Andeluvia
- 11/9: Sheila Hollinghead, Rise, Write, Shine
- 11/10: Chris Vonada, I’m Just Thinkin’
- 11/11: Steve Olar, Snickerdoodles
- 11/12: Scott Fields, Dead Man Writing
- 11/13: Keri Mae Lamar, A Happy Home
- 11/14: Liberty Speidel, Word Wanderings
- 11/15: Pauline Creeden, Hosanna’s Christian Reader
- 11/16: Victor Travison, Lightwalker’s View
- 11/17: CH Dyer, Thoughts and Visions
- 11/18: Michael Galloway, Horizons
- 11/20: Edward Lewis, Sowing the Seeds
- 11/22: Chris Henderson, TheWriteChris
- 11/23: Carol Peterson, From Carol’s Quill
- 11/24: Tracy Krauss, Expression Express
- 11/25: Nona King, Word Obsession
- 11/26: Cindee Snider Re, Breathe Deeply
- 11/27: Israel Ikhinmwin, Israel’s Blog
- 11/28: Marilyn, Life 101: Understanding It All
- 11/29: David Pardoe, David Pardoe, author
- 11/30: Suzette, Beautiful You