Let’s Stop Bagging the Rich

It seems that so many people are up in arms about Oxfam’s news release that 85 people own 110 trillion dollars. While I agree with some of their findings there were a few unclear issues for example not naming anyone on their list.

When I talk with former street kids who are in a training program, they will often say that I’m rich because we drive a nice car and are white. I quickly remind them of some facts:

  1. They have a roof over their head, education, clothing and training with the guarantee of a job at the end of it – all for free. So that makes them rich compared to someone living in a slum.
  2. Everything we have has been donated by our faithful partners overseas. We own nothing nor have the ability to earn money. We are totally reliant on our faith in God.

dollar

So what do we consider rich to be? Is it that someone has more than me, better clothes, a nicer car or endless cash to burn?

One thing I can tell you that poverty does not glorify God.

And why do we have the need to pull down those who have more, or much more than us? It doesn’t change our situation or our attitude. Yet in our eyes we feel justified by doing it.

If you take a further step and look at some of the worlds richest billionaires not all of them or even a fair percentage have inherited wealth. Somewhere along the way they started a company of some sort. For anyone who has started a business, you know it is a lot of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears. There are times when your business nearly goes bust and then times of great fruitfulness. Mostly though it’s just a lot of hard work. There are plenty of sleepless nights and way too much paperwork.

forbesI admire people who have been able to make their business profitable.

If it weren’t for some business people we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done. There are friends who have sacrificially given both from their profits and in hope that things will turn around for them.

What we need to do is stop judging. Who says you can’t own more than one house? Why not do such things as an investment for your children and their children.

We need to realise that we all have times of great need and great abundance. When we were youth workers in Christchurch, New Zealand there were weeks when we had hardly any money. As a mother it was horrible looking into the fridge and hoping that when I opened the door that food would magically appear.  We’ve had other times when we have had enough so that we could but things such things as a television or furniture for people who were in need.

I tell you now I would much prefer to be on the side of having enough to give to others than always in need.

Right now we are on assignment in Kenya, working with young people. One of our biggest struggles is that as part of our visa permit we can’t go out and earn money. Having to rely on others is a huge burden.

Our times of need are much more often than our times of abundance. Even this month we are not sure if we can pay our rent but we’re believing that by Friday the money will be there. Some people rave on about how they ‘live by faith’ as if it’s an easy journey. Trust me, it isn’t.

cashIn addition to not judging (because everyone has a story) we also can give thanks for what we DO have.  An attitude of gratefulness  helps us to enjoy what we have and stop looking at what we don’t.

Instead of criticising billionaires or those we consider richer than us,  let’s start learning from them and see what we can put into practise for ourselves.

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Size doesn’t Matter

We seem to be caught up in a world of numbers (how big your church, outreach, youth group), money (how much you are on) strength (how many pushups you can do) and belongings (how many properties you own). Sometimes I get a bit over it. When did numbers and money become the ultimate goal of life?

Sure, I love having money to do the things we want to do, who doesn’t? I love travelling (been to 18 countries, and not just airports), I love speaking to the thousands and I love doing crazy things like white water rafting on The Nile.

my 2 loves

Bushwalking in Kenya

But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that there will always be someone smarter, richer, more fit and better at some things than myself – and that’s okay. I’ve completed an MBA but want to do another Masters Degree some time soon but does that make me more than someone who has just done their undergrad? Does it make me lesser of a person because I choose not to do a PhD?

I think it’s time we put quantity aside and look at quality of something.

We are on assignment in Kenya (that’s East Africa if you didn’t know) for who knows how long. There’s no shortage of NGO’s, community help groups, churches or ‘mega outreaches’. If you go into the slums you can see endless schools in tin shacks, lunchtime church meetings and welfare organisations operating. I dread to think how much aid and development money has gone into organisations and I ask myself ‘What impact is it making?’

Now while this might sound a tad negative, actually it’s a good thing. We constantly look at what we’re involved in and are more than happy to see lives changed forever.

liz sorting maize

Liz showing the trainees how to use the bean sorter

Kids are going to school where before they had no way in. Others are no longer living on the street and stealing, they are being educated and are now in jobs. Some who were sponsored are now volunteering, giving back to their community. We’re working with an organisation that doesn’t have the thousands on the books but their history is quite incredible – schools, sponsorship programs, agricultural training, leadership programs are just a bit of what they’ve done. That’s because they are into developing young people and not just giving a handout.

teacher 2

Teaching computers on a donated laptop

The key is not how many have come through the door of your work, but what lifetime change are you bringing?

For us personally, the person who gives us $5 a month to keep us here is as much as of a hero as someone who gives 10 times more. Every person who gives does so sacrificially. We have those in their seventies who give from their small pension. There are those who are students who have an after school job and give to us, while others give from their house rentals. It’s not about the amount but the impact it’s made.

Some generous person gave us $500 as a one off gift and from some of that we were able to give some teenage boys their first ever Christmas party. That meant small presents, a buffet lunch, party hats, streamers – the works. They got involved in making the meal and decorating the room and it was a special time for all of us – especially our family. Rather than being a day where we miss our youngest daughter (even more than normal), we were out with a bunch of kids who had no place to call home. But this was only possible because someone sacrificed A LOT.

present opening

Present opening

So please don’t look down on what you do or give – it does make a difference – if not to you to the person you are helping out.

It’s not the size it’s the heart motivation that the action is done in

Want to find out how you can help in our work – check it out HERE.