I have recently started a Bible Study entitled “Interrupted”. It is a part of Threads, the Young Adult ministry of LifeWay. It is written by Jen Hatmaker, a Pastor’s wife, author, and speaker, whose world was completely changed when she realized the life change that she needed to experience after she prayed for God to give her a holy passion, which He definitely did. I have only just begun this study, but have already been greatly affected by the reality that has set in. Too often we read Scriptures about caring for the poor and needy and assume it is in the spiritual sense. We read John 21: “The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.'” We read this and assume that Jesus meant to take care of the church by leading them spiritually and making sure they are on the right path with God, but He meant it to be literal! There are millions of souls around this world and around each one of us who need food, water, and necessities.
America is obsessed with getting the next best thing, and satisfying ourselves. We probably all know the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, Ezekiel 16:49 claims that Sodom was destroyed because of her sin… “she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy”. Sound familiar?
Let’s look at some facts about how the rest of the world lives:
-Of the 6 billion people on planet Earth, about 1.2 billion live on 23 cents a day
-Half of the world lives on less than $2 a day
-The wealthiest one billion people average $70 a day (This places us in the upper, upper, upper percentages of global population)
-Someone dies of hunger every 16 seconds
-22 million people died of preventable diseases last year; 10 million were children
-27 million children and adults are trapped in slavery because of economic crisis. More slaves exist today than ever before in human history.
-More than 143 million children in the world have been orphaned or abandoned (more than 1/2 of the US population)
-Roughly 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless
-In the last hour:: More than 1600 children were forced to the streets by the death or abuse of an adult, At least 115 children became prostitutes, and More than 66 children younger than 15 years of age were infected with HIV.
Now, let’s look at the world vs. the United States::
-40% of the world lacks basic water sanitation, resulting in disease, death, wastewater for drinking, and loss of immunity. Americans spent $16 billion on bottled water in 2008.
-We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on goods combined.
-The US makes up 5% of the global population, but we consume 25% of the world’s oil, 20 million barrels of oil a DAY; next is China at just 6.9 million a day.
And these are just a few. When a group of leaders from developing nations begged US government leaders to explore intervention options for their countries in crisis, a US official was quoted as saying “The American lifestyle is not up for negotiation”. What a terrible thing! Now, I am not completely hating on America. I do know that we do a LOT to help other nations, but are we doing enough? Are you?
This world sees us as a Christian nation who is not living up to God’s calling to care for their needs, it is no wonder so many are turned off to Christianity! They hear this false prosperity message that is being preached and think that Jesus Christ must not love them, because they are suffering and poor! Jen Hatmaker says, “it’s easy to see how the nations of the world simply cannot square how much money we have with how we spend it. Global church leaders are dumbfounded at our excess while their people are dying and starving, especially when so many leading spiritual voices here are proclaiming the prosperity gospel”.
Joel Osteen was quoted as saying “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think He wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college”.
Joyce Meyer once said, “Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven? I believe God wants to give us nice things.”
And Creflo Dollar, of World Changers International, stated, “Now, last night we began to deal with the relationship between peace and prosperity… and we’ll look at it again tonight. It says, ‘My soul is far from prosperity.’ Why? My soul is far from peace because I forgot prosperity. We established last night that you are not whole until you get your money”.
These quotes appalled me! And this is preached all over our nation! I agree with Rick Warren, who said “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net wort. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”
So we must make a change. We must change the way that the world views our nation. Think about it, it is harder to hate a rich country that is feeding you, adopting your orphans, building schools in your villages, and caring for your sick. It is harder, then, to dismiss the idea of a redeeming Christ when His followers are pouring their lives out for the last and least. And it is harder to hate the Christian church when her members are pouring out compassion and resources to those who need it the most.
I, myself, can only make a small ripple in the ocean. I can do my part by supporting organizations like Invisible Children, World Vision, Compassion International, The Water Project, Sari Bari, Living Water International, and so many others. My small ripple, added to your small ripple, and so many others, can make a huge difference. Alone we can affect a few, but together we can change the world, and obey God’s calling to feed His sheep!