Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Human Needs

One of the things that has impressed me here is how seeing human need is so powerful in motivating people to act on behalf of others. None of us likes to see others suffer.

Charlotte has a book that goes through parts of the body. For example, "Here are my hands for throwing and catching." And of all the pages in the book, Charlotte always focuses on the page that reads, "Here are my knees for falling down." That page shows a boy with a skinned knee crying. And when Charlotte sees it, she says, "boo boo" and gives the sign for crying.

Seeing suffering powerfully affects us.

Perhaps that is why so many of us have been motivated to share our wealth with the people of Nagarote, even though the fact that there are people in this world who live in shanties is not really a surprise to any of us.

But, as I reflect on our motivation, I am also reminded that a billion people on this earth live in poverty at least as great as the poorest people we've seen in Nagarote.

Are we motivated to care about those people?

And perhaps more importantly, we need to evaluate what we are motivated to do about the needs we see. One of the other team members asked me a thoughtful question that I think everyone one of us should consider:
Is it wrong that I am more affected by the poverty of people than the lostness of the people?
The person knew the answer, and was merely reflecting on what it means about our theology that we are sometimes more motivated to give food than to give the gospel.

I'd ask us all, now that this mission trip is almost over, to look back and consider whether we are more motivated by physical needs than spiritual needs.

Kudos to Rick, Angela, Steve, Raphael and Gertrudis for having a desire to use some of the remaining money to equip local pastors with theological books. May those books be a blessing to the pastors, and may those books aid the pastors in proclaiming the Word of God to the people of Nagarote.

Kudos to Steve and Angela who dedicated a lot of mental labor to figuring out how they could share the gospel while giving out care packages to hungry children who speak a different language. May that little communication of Christian love open the hearts of those children and their families to hearing a fuller explanation of Jesus from the local churches.
Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water...." Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life." (John 4:10,13,14, HCSB)


  1. Lee here,
    The answer to the question about being concerned about the poverty is simple. Every time any of you minister unto the people of Nagarote, you share the Love and Gospel of Christ.
    In Mathew 25:35-46 is the answer.
    "v35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: v36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. v38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? v39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? v40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    v46 .....but the righteous into life eternal.
    So you see, it is just confirmation that you are in Christ and Christ is in you.
    Thank you for the inspiration that you have been to me.
    I love you Tammy.

  2. First, it's important to understand that in the New Testament, the term brother is used to refer to other Christians. So, when Jesus said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren," he was discussing what we do for other Christians. That means the verse actually does not relate to sharing the gospel in the sense of leading people to salvation.

    Second, it's essential that we understand what the gospel really is. The gospel--in a nutshell--is the idea that all humans are sinful and deserving of God's eternal wrath, but through the sacrifice of Jesus, we can receive forgiveness and be adopted into God's family. Now, giving someone food does not convey any part of that message. After all, members of every major religion--Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, etc--are taught to care for the poor as well. So, caring for the poor, by itself, does nothing to distinguish Christianity from other religions. Simply mentioning Jesus' name while giving the food identifies you as a Christian, but does not tell the hearer how to find salvation.


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