When I moved to Honduras In 2014 to do missions, there were many things I expected to encounter, but there was one thing that I was totally unprepared for: Being seen as Rich. And that Bothers me, because I’m not.
In the states, I was by no means rich. I had a job, lived in a shared rental apartment, and owned an old used car. I had enough money for food and bills with a little left over to put in savings and use as extra money. Here, it is basically the same, except I no longer have a car or a paying job. But by the Grace of God, I still have enough money to put food on the table each month and pay my bills. I don’t have loads of extra spending money, a fancy house, or even my own vehicle, and yet I am still seen as rich. Where I come from, we call me poor. But I’m not hungry. I’m not sleeping on the streets. I’m not without clothes. I’m ok. I have a home, a full tummy, and warm blankets. And last week as I was mulling over this, it hit me. I understood. I am seen as rich, not because I have an over abundance, but because I have enough. And in a society where not having enough money to buy beans to eat, or being unable to pay $2 to see the doctor at the Mission Clinic is normal, we need to adjust the way we see ourselves as North American’s who don’t know hunger.
This is a struggle for me. Growing up, my family was not well off. We never had money, it was always a struggle. I always felt poor. But we never went hungry. I never knew hunger. Never. I always had clothes and a house. We always had a car. My parents had jobs. We had electricity. We could go to the doctor or the hospital if we were sick. We had clean water. We had family.
When I look back and think of that and then think of people here who barely have enough money to buy flour to make their only meal of tortillas and salt. Who are wearing rags that they should’ve outgrown a year ago. Who don’t even have running water, let alone electricity. Who have to walk 5 hours down the mountain to come to our clinic to see a doctor. And when they get there see the doctor for free because they don’t even have enough money to pay the symbolic fee of $2 for the consult. Growing up I was rich.
Today, I have enough to supply my needs for the month. I am rich. I have a house today, and access to medical care. I am rich. I have clean running water and clothes that fit. I am rich.
But this bothers me. I don’t want to be considered rich, because if someone who has their needs met is considered rich, that means that being poor means you have nothing.
And Growing up, that kind of poor was not on my radar. But I wish it had been. It’s real. It’s common. And it’s hard to process when it is not normal for you. I am rich. And that is a big responsibility.
Growing up without money, I remember always saying that I wanted to be rich someday so that I could help others. So that I could have the power and the means to do something for them. But “rich” is a matter of perspective. You don’t have to be rich to be “rich”. And Jesus didn’t say “Get rich and then you can help people.” No. He said “Help people regardless of your riches, and regardless of theirs.” Whether I am “rich” or not, it is my responsibility to give it all away. To let God show me where he wants his provision to be shared.
While I still don’t like being considered rich, I understand it now. And it has completely changed my heart. It has made me so thankful. Thankful for (though all my growing up I thought I was poor) the childhood I had. Thankful for the home I have. For my roof. For a bed. And it has made me so humbled. The fact that I have food on my plate, the fact that I have enough money to buy clean drinking water and a toothbrush. The fact that when my shoes have holes in the bottom, I can get new ones. None of it has anything to do with me. It has everything to do with God. And he has chosen to use me as an extension of his hand, reaching out to help those in need. I am utterly powerles and undeserving. And completely blessed that he would use me to do his work. May I be ever his grateful servant.