I’ve traveled several million miles, all over the world, and I’ve been blessed to see the magnificent handiwork of our Creator, as well as the creations of His image-bearers. I’ve also been exposed to crushing global inequities: poverty, disease, and hardship in broken and desperate places.
My mind attempts to protect itself from feeling overwhelmed by this black hole of global poverty by numbing itself: after a while, I just don’t “see” the suffering anymore. In order to maintain my composure, and complete the responsibilities that brought me to a location in the first place, the reality gets pushed deeper into the recesses of my mind, and my heart.
Every once in a while, however, this wall is broken down, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor comes crashing through. (I suspect this is the work of the Holy Spirit attempting to protect my heart from growing cold and callused, if I permit Him.)
This was my experience on my last journey to Guatemala City.
I was invited to San Lucas to address a group of pastors from all over Guatemala. The simple church–on a busy road with the noise of too many cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and tuk tuks–had open windows and a swept dirt floor. Our daily meals were cooked over an open flame and served with joy and enthusiasm. We ate beans, rice, and plantains, drank strong sweet coffee, and studied the word of God together.
The pastors were highly engaged on the sanctity of human life and the Biblical response to its violations. They determined to train their entire network and equip them to uphold the sanctity of human life in their regions and community. As a result the entire nation of Guatemala will be impacted by the message of life.
As we were preparing to leave, four pastors hitched a ride to Guatemala City. (They preferred the bed of our pickup truck to a crammed bus.) As we bounced over pot holes and ruts, and veered around sharp curves and steep drop offs, I thought of my own discomfort, then wondered how they must be feeling in the bare metal truck bed. Instead of complaining, however, or even silence, I heard only joyful singing. Those four pastors were long on my mind after I was dropped off at my hotel a few hours later.
In Mark 12, Jesus told His disciples that the widow He witnessed offering two small coins contributed more than the others who contributed large amounts, all because she put in all she had to live on. That is the reality I was reminded of on that truck ride. These pastors–the ones at the training and the ones in the truck bed–were the widow. My prayer is that I can follow their (and her) example, giving sacrificially instead of giving begrudgingly out of abundance.
This challenge has stuck with me, and I find myself wondering: although I was the “teacher,” who taught whom on the road to Guatemala City?