Faith like the poor…

There is something to be said for those who have nothing, but give their lives to faith. I’ve always *known* that the Christians in 3rd world countries had stronger faith than those of us who have much, but to witness it in person was life changing.

 

When I left for Guatemala, I had lost my job and as much as I had faith it would work out, there was a large part of me that wondered if I should withdraw. The money that I could have saved from not going would have been huge, and it was a full two weeks that I could have used to job hunt. Actually following through with the trip was what I considered to be one of the biggest leaps of faith I could be taking.

 

And then I got to Guatemala, and everything changed.

 

I met women whose joy at the birth of their children gave them hope, gave them purpose even in a future that was bleak. Who appreciated more than anyone I had encountered a gift from complete strangers to bless them and their newborn bundles of joy.

 

 

I met children who appreciated the opportunity to go to school, no matter how small it was — children who took pride in their uniforms, their education and their culture and who loved to meet foreigners and have the opportunity to be loved by them. Who were eager to learn, listen and participate.

 

 

People who took a leap of faith and purchased the property they had been renting for their church because they believed God would provide the means to build it — and then one year later, we came, and we helped them build that church.

 

 

But there was also so much more than that. I met a family who had suffered great loss, but still served the Lord daily, believing he would restore hope to their lives. There was a pastor whose baby had been sick for months upon months, where the doctor’s told them it was just a cold, and then the baby died suddenly. But instead of becoming angry, they prayed in faith that God would restore life to their child, and five minutes later, without any medical help, the baby began to breathe. When they took him to the doctor’s, he was 100% healthy, without any sign of any medical problems prior or present. Months later, when the pastor’s wife suffered a stroke, he prayed in faith God would heal her, and half an hour later she walked out of the hospital without any problems and has not suffered again.

 

I saw families who had nothing who went to church regularly, who served joyfully and always had smiles on their faces, and trusted that God would meet their needs. They knew they would find food, they would love their children and continue on day after day.

 

The same day as the family with the gangs, we had the opportunity to continue our relief work in a community that lived in the midst of a sugarcane plantation, in the middle of a cow and horse pasture. Last year during their rainy season, the community had flooded and the owner did nothing to help them. The missionaries we stayed with had received a large donation from a church in BC of bikes, dresses, blankets and clothing. We managed to purchase some food hampers and took everything out there. The children had to walk 7km each way to school every day, so the guys fixed up the bikes and we loaded them up to give one to each of the kids selected by the pastor. Sadly, we did not have enough bike’s for everyone so only some kids got them.

 

There was celebration as the families received our gifts, and they made a lunch for us of fresh tamales (which were kind of icky, but I tried them anyway), and the children played with us, the community laughed with us as we performed our skits and loved us as we spent time with them. This community had been robbed of homes, food and well-being, but still they worked, they served and they praised the Lord.

 

And as I experienced situations like these over and over again, I began to realize just how small my own problems were. And just how small my faith had been — I mean sure, I trusted God would provide, but there was a large part of me that still feared it. That still feared what would happen and kept freaking out and wondering how this would all work out.

 

Coming back, I realized that this fear is irrational. If God can provide for those who have nothing, can make sure they have food on their table, clothes on their backs, roofs over there heads and jobs to provide a living, in a land where we have so much more wouldn’t God be able to do the same?

 

There’s a lot to learn from those who have less, a lot more, I would say, than they have to learn from us. If there is anything I can change about myself from the experiences down there, it would be that I want to experience faith like they do — a total reliance of trust in God and faith in his capabilities no matter what the situation looks like.

 

Today I’m going to leave you with a clip of me speaking about the experience with the family whose sons were killed, and awe at the faith that they have. There was a bit of a technical difficulty, so it’s missing the first few moments, but thought I’d leave it with you all anyway.

4 thoughts on “Faith like the poor…

  1. I went on a similar mission trip to Brazil when I was 21, and I was overwhelmed by the strength of faith of the people we met, especially those in the poorest communities. Like you taking a leap of faith to go to Guatemala, I felt that about myself going to Brazil, but that 'leap' was so small compared to the everyday faith of the people we met. It definitely changed my life, and I think about it so often, but it's been so many years on that sometimes I feel like I've forgotten the lessons I learnt out there. Your stories of your trip are great reminders for me, thanks 🙂

  2. I disagree with you somewhat here – I don't necessarily think that people of a certain country or income level always have stronger faith. I try not to generalize. I think it depends on the individual, not just where they are from. I've met people who were low-income and poor, and still had the same “lukewarm”, casual faith as those of us who have more. I've also met wealthy people who do have strong faith and do care, despite how much they have.

    1. While I respect that you disagree, I have to tell you that I have experienced it first-hand. People who are low-income and poor in first-world countries are very different than the poor in third world countries. The ones in third world countries have a much stronger faith, because their faith is all they have. It has a lot to do with their reliance on God. Here, even low income families can make ends meet through social programs, so they tend not to put their faith in God for provision. There, there is no such thing.

      You can ask anyone who has been on any sort of mission’s trip to third world countries and they will tell you the very same thing.

      The problem with Christians in our countries is that we tend to have weaker faith because we don’t need to rely on God — we already have access to everything we need. We don’t consider it God’s blessing when we have food on our table, clothes on our backs, homes to live in — we attribute that to our own doing. They don’t there — every single thing they get, they attribute to God’s provision, acknowledging that were it not for Him, they would not be getting it.

  3. This is one of the best posts that I have read in a long time, Tabs. (I sense that I may have written similar comments about some of your other entries) You have such a good heart, a devoted spirit, and a courageous attitude. It takes one giant leap of faith to stick to your plans for the trip in spite of the job loss. I commend you for that. Not many people would be so bold. It shows that you truly care about the state of the world. More than that, you will make sacrifices to save it.

    The world changes by those who make leaps of faith. This is a very inspiring post…not only because it shows how far you traveled to serve others, but because the faith of these people in Guatemala shows their resiliency and their spirit. Very few of us in Western cultures understand what it means to endure hardships…and fewer still are able to do so with a smile on their faces.

    ~Shane

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