I watched a movie about global poverty yesterday that broke my heart. It was part of our KOH2RVA awareness film series, a movie called “58” which gets its name from Isaiah 58, a chapter that highlights God’s concern for the poor. The movie showed people living on a garbage heap in Kenya, children breaking rocks in India, young girls falling prey to human trafficking in Thailand. As I said, it was heartbreaking, but at the same time hopeful. Near the end of the movie we heard that the number of people living in extreme poverty (that is, on less than $1.25 per day) had fallen from 52 percent of the world’s population just a few years ago, to 26 percent today. That’s half. And the distance from where we are to the end of extreme poverty isn’t as far as you might think. I think the narrator said $78 Billion would do it, and suggested that if all the Christians who give something back to God through the church gave just a little more (one percent?), we could get there.
I was touched by the story of one young woman, a student from England, who used to spend all her money on herself, maxing out her credit cards as she tried to stay fashionable. But then she said something about cutting up her credit cards in front of her church. And then she said something about making a trip to this garbage heap in Kenya, where she had a conversation with a woman that changed her life. Now she is deeply involved in her church’s ministry in Kenya, spending less on herself so she can help others more.
It’s interesting to think that the poor might not be with us always, and that if those of us who have a little money could learn to give some of it away, it could have a global impact. $10 will purchase a mosquito net that will keep a child from getting malaria. $79 will buy a water filter that will keep a family from getting sick. $38 a month will sponsor a child, providing him with the necessities of life and the hope of a future.
And since we are on a mission trip to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, I can’t help but think of the nearly 39 percent of children in Richmond who are living below the poverty line. How many of them go to bed hungry at night? How many of them have stopped dreaming big dreams? And what would it take to make a difference in their lives, to bring heaven to earth right here?