May 8 2008

How Far Is The Hill?

I’m in Guatemala right now, taking a handful of sponsors and radio broadcasters on a trip to see how Compassion is changing the lives of children in poverty. And I just had to share something that hit me today. I’ll try to keep this short because the internet service here is so iffy that I doubt I’ll be able to write much.

As we were driving to one of the child development centers, we saw a lot of poverty. Families living in shacks made of scraps of wood, tin … and mud bricks. We saw women working in the corn fields and men sweating in the afternoon heat as they heaved loads of cinder blocks for their construction jobs. But off in the distance, we saw some nice big houses … perched along the hillsides. Those hills overlook the areas where the impoverished families live. (I’d upload a photo but it’s apparently too much for the internet service, and my computer freezes up.)

My first thought, as we were driving by, was “How can those people live in those huge, nice houses and look out from their shaded balconies at such poverty? How can they sleep at night in those big homes, knowing that five, six … maybe as many as eight people are crammed into a tin shack, sleeping on a dirt floor, with growling tummies just a hundred yards away?”

Then I realized … the only difference between me and those people is how far away the hill is. My hilltop home is a thousand miles away instead of a hundred yards. So I must be willing to ask the same questions of myself. “How can *I* live in my big home knowing that poverty is stealing so much from innocent families?” How dare I judge. How dare I question … unless I’m willing to question myself.

Truth is, I don’t know the hearts of those people who live in those big homes (which were only “big” by comparison to the shacks in the foreground. In actuality, they were about the same size as my house.) I don’t know them. They may be the providers of jobs for those families. They may be the ones keeping their local economy from completely tanking.

But I do know my heart. And I know I’ve got some growing to do. I know that God blessed me with a nice home, a wonderful family and a great job … not so I could sit on my shaded balcony, turning a blind eye to the needs of the world, but so I could be part of the solution.

It’s not wrong to be blessed. But I believe it *is* wrong to be blessed and not be thankful for it. It *is* wrong to be blessed and not share that blessing.

How far is your hill from poverty?

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    Tim is the Compassion USA Communications Director. His job is to promote Compassion's brand, messaging and cause through media awareness and public relations opportunities.

8 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Andrzej Gandecki
    May 8, 2008
    at 10:15 am

    Thank you, Tim. A very penetrating question…

  2. May 8, 2008
    at 11:39 am

    Good question, good answer. We’re blessed to be a blessing.

  3. May 8, 2008
    at 5:08 pm

    I like this post. More of us should realize that God didn’t bless us so we could be blessed! He blessed us so we could bless others. We need to put a sticky note on our foreheads or something!

  4. May 8, 2008
    at 8:44 pm

    Thanks guys for the comments.
    Yes, and I’m ashamed to say that I still have to be reminded of that…that we are blessed to be a blessing.

    I like the idea of sticky notes, R.L…. but if we put ‘em on our foreheads, we’d only see them when we look in the mirror! I guess, if everyone wore a sticky note on their forehead, we’d all remember!

  5. May 9, 2008
    at 6:00 am

    Thanks for making the time to post this, Tim. Needed to hear it this morning…

  6. May 9, 2008
    at 8:58 am

    Those people in the rich homes don’t see the people living in poverty because they have built walls around their homes. My job as a Child Advocate is to take down those walls. As we share our stories of visits to the projects, and of Compassion victories and heartaches, we are taking down walls. When people become aware of the needs, and realize there is a company they can trust — Compassion International — they are more than happy to respond. In fact, they are happy to realize they truly are making a difference in someone’s world. Surprisingly, it changes their life just as much, for our rich walls of greed and materialism also need to come down. Trips such as yours to Guatemala take down walls and bring the poor and the rich together–for each one needs the other desperately.

  7. Debbie Edwards
    Feb 4, 2009
    at 3:49 pm

    I was so touched by your post and would like permission to use this in a Compassion Sunday I am planning. Please let me know if I can.
    God Bless!

  8. Mike Stephens
    Mar 29, 2009
    at 7:35 pm

    Tim,

    Excellent post my friend ;) Yout ask a GREAT question!!! How far away is my hill from poverty? Fairly close!!! I know there are homeless people that look for work everyday downtown!!! I worked with some of them picking up trash at one of the city dumps. The question I like is “How far am I willing to go to help someone out of poverty?” And the answer is currently being written!!! Only time will tell!!! Hopefully the story will be AWESOME!!! B/c we serve an AWESOME GOD!!!

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