Last summer, Wayside Chapel sent a team of 35 students and adults to Guatemala City to partner with the Potter’s House Association in a ministry directed at the 11,000 people who eke out a subsistence living in the city’s massive dump. Garbage trucks offload tons of refuse each day. As the trucks arrive, people scurry to get out of their way before the load is dropped. No sooner does the truck finish its dumping duty than the people return to fight over the best of what has been left behind. The items deemed of no value to others in Guatemala City are carefully picked through by the scavengers that look for items to repair and sell, wear, or eat.
Shortly after the missions team to Guatemala returned, my wife and I attended a workshop on the Eight Forms Of Poverty conducted by Edgar and Gladys Guitz, the Executive Directors of the Potter’s House. The workshop explored the complexity of influences that cause poverty accompanied by a proposed holistic response based on a Biblical worldview. Watching their introductory video, I asked myself “is what we are attempting to accomplish at Disciple Daily even relevant to the people making a living in this dump?”
It was then that an interesting thought began to grow. We have been discussing that as Jesus’ disciples we are to imitate His actions. Our Savior stepped out of heaven and into the refuse of what my sin has made of His world. Jesus rescued me from the garbage dump of my life in 1971. With a single act of faith, He changed me from a scavenger into treasure. Old habits die hard. After 40 years as a follower of Yeshua, there are times that I return to the garbage. Praise God! Each time, His rescue of me is just a confession away.
My own continued experience as His reclamation project provides a bridge for ministry to people like the ones served by the Potter’s House. His continual seeking of the treasure in me is part of a much larger plan for my life, and yours. Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose me, I chose you!”
As believers in Jesus, we are called to emulate Him as His scavengers among those deemed worthless, broken, and lost. As His imitators, we have been given the privilege of being His hands and feet as we search aggressively for treasure everywhere we go. Our practice must be to offer the Gospel freely with one hand while demonstrating practical compassion with the other.
Poverty is not simply a matter of having too little money to adequately house, clothe and feed a family. Poverty runs much deeper and has many manifestations.
• Spiritual Poverty – Need for a personal relationship with God
• Intellectual Poverty – Need for a transformed mind that seeks truth
• Poverty of Affection – Need for physical and emotional relationships
• Poverty of the Will – Need for personal discipline
• Physical Poverty – Need for basic life necessities
• Poverty of Support Network – Need for a sustaining community
• Poverty of Civic Involvement – Need to be a societal contributor
• Economic Poverty – Need to be financially self-sustaining
Mirror On The Wall
We should take a long look in a mirror. It will reveal that each of us suffers from poverty at some level. We may have even allowed God to provide victory in a number of areas where we once experienced impoverishment. A realistic self-examination may reveal that like Israel during the time of the Judges, we have returned from a place of victory to an area of personal poverty. We’re back digging in the trash.
God wants much more for us. You don’t have to go to Guatemala City to be a part of reclaiming God’s “treasures” in the trash. Right where we are everyday there are people who have yet to place their trust in Jesus. In our churches, there are many believers among us who have never grown in their walk with God, living a life of quiet desperation. God’s treasures are everywhere, “but the workers are few.”
When was the last time you really got out of your comfort zone, to make yourself available to someone who is completely different than you and walk beside them as they learn to walk in Him? Maybe it’s time for a treasure hunt of your own.