Saturday, September 17, 2016
Buy One, Give One
Tears streamed down my face this morning as I looked at this picture and several others from my trip to Papua New Guinea way back in May 2004. These children are part of one of the poorest tribes in PNG and lived in the garbage dump of PNG's capital city, Port Moresby.
Even now as I try to write I find emotion making it hard to write. Why? Partly because the little girl in the dirty yellow and green dress had so captured my heart that for years I kept this picture on my computer as the background picture. Partly because of memories related to this trip wherein the beautiful people of PNG also captured my heart, and certainly because my heart was so drilled by the poverty and need of these beautiful people. And I find myself asking how I have so thoroughly forgotten the needs of such people while I live in midst of all my wealth? (I write these words from our sunroom as I view the peaceful lake that is behind our spacious and ridiculously comfortable home!).
I want more than ever in my life to embrace these tears! I want to always keep before me the great disparity that exists between American Christians and their brothers and sisters in developing nations. And I want this not because of some kind of shame-based desire to salve my conscience about having so much but rather because of a growing passion to live ever more generously and ever more freed from the "things" that crowd out fruitfulness in our American lives (see Luke 8:14). And I want this because of simple, heartfelt compassion and love that grows out my own even increasing experience of God's love. And I want this because the older I get, the more aware I am that storing up treasure in eternity is the only truly wise "investment" that I can make ("You can't take it with you" makes a whole lot more sense at age 67 than it did at age 27!).
All of this has grown out of a thought that keeps coming back to me again and again (most likely from the Holy Spirit). That thought is: How can I help American Christians, many of whom are so oblivious to their extreme wealth as compared to much of the rest of the world, begin to live more wisely and generously? It was in that context that the phrase "Buy one, give one" first popped into my mind. What if we who have so much would begin to set aside an equal amount of money for everything we buy beyond our necessities? What if that extra pair of shoes you want but don't really need was purchased with a commitment to share an equal amount of money with a compassion-related type of ministry? What if that new "man-toy" was matched with a gift of equal amount to a ministry that developed young men in developing nations or to a ministry that develops young men from our own impoverished areas? I think you get the picture. The possibilities are endless.
I plan to write more about this within the next few days and include a fairly thorough study of Christians and Money from a New Testament perspective, but somehow the tears this morning moved me to put this idea out there in raw form so that I can hear from you. As you reflect on all of this, take a look at another picture of my little sweetie and some of her friends (I never even learned her name, but her face is forever treasured in my heart!)
More to come from Abba's deeply moved child,