perspective on poverty As I was perusing the news feed on my Facebook profile the other day, I stumbled upon a note posted by one of my co-workers, Greg Birgy. (Greg is Compassion’s Area Director of Advocates and Church Relationships.)

I was moved by what he wrote and thought it was worthy of reposting. So here it is,
in Greg’s own words:

I have friends in the Philippines right now. As I spent some time praying for them this morning, a strange conviction hit me.

Recently my wife and I were lamenting some of the shortcomings of our present home. We’ve been married for nine years and this is our fourth home (in our fourth state), but this is our first home without a basement.

We’ve never had elaborate basements, never a fully-finished one, typically just a cement area with storage, mechanicals like the furnace, and laundry. It’s the storge space we were really missing.

We like to think we live modestly, if not simply … yet we do have boxes and crates of “things” that we have to store … things like Christmas decorations, keepsakes, seasonal clothing that doesn’t fit into our closets, kids clothes that we pass from one child to the next, extra items that we don’t have space for in our kitchen cabinets, and so on.

What we do have is a crawl space under a portion of our home … a crawl space we were feeling was rather inconvenient and inadequate.

This morning, in my prayer for my friends in the Philippines, I was reminded of my own visit to that country last Fall.

While there I visited two different homes that required me to crawl to enter them … a first for me in all my years of visiting the poor.

Two homes in which I had to bow my head even while sitting so as not to scrape the ceiling (standing wasn’t even an option.)

Two homes that easily could have fit together inside the space of my “small” crawl space.

Two homes that collectively had fewer light bulbs than my one crawl space.

Two homes that had far fewer possessions than the “extras” I store in my crawl space.

My crawl space doesn’t flood when it rains. I’ve never seen a mouse in it, much less a rat like the one I saw while visiting one of the homes in the Philippines.

While I’m sure it is inhabited by an occasional spider, it isn’t infested with cockroaches like the tiny home in Manila.

The temperature in my crawl space is always moderate and vented with fresh air. In the homes in the Manila slum, the air was stagnant, humid and swelteringly hot.

I was humbled today, knowing that my crawl space is palatial compared to the homes I visited in Manila. My inconveniences are born out of my abundance … can they really be considered inconveniences?

How easy it is to lose perspective and take things for granted. I’m thinking my family wouldn’t last a day trying to “live” in our crawl space together, and I wonder how long we could go on living without even missing the things we have stored there?

Thank you for the lessons in humility and gratitude today Lord … may they permeate my choices, my lifestyle, in order to love you and your people better.

It’s so easy to lose perspective, isn’t it? Especially living in a country so full of abundance. Hopefully posts like this one can help us keep a true perspective on poverty, reality and our place in this world.

Do you have a story of how God used a small, seemingly insignificant moment to radically change your perspective? I’d love to hear it!

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  1. Andrzej Gandecki
    Feb 29, 2008
    at 8:54 am

    Becky and Grag, thank you for sharing this.

  2. Feb 29, 2008
    at 9:21 am

    It is easy to lose our perspective and Greg’s account helped me this morning to adjust the ‘lens’ a bit.

  3. Mike Stephens
    Mar 25, 2009
    at 10:44 am

    Small moment…BIG LESSON hhmmmmm let me think…not maybe exactly what you are looking for but how about now if I ride my bike lets say 25-35 miles in a day I always remember the day I rode almost 135 miles in one day. We stopped for lunch and I ate a bunch of Jalapenos that one of the other riders did not want to eat and the Jalapenos made my mouth so hot and my forehead sweat that the pain in my legs and my desire to sleep went away b/c the pain of the Jalapenos eclipsed the other pain. So now when I ride 25-35 miles I still may get really tired or think man this is going to be a long ride I don’t want to do this I remember the really long rides and it helps me get through and believe I can do it.

  4. Mike Stephens
    Mar 27, 2009
    at 5:24 pm

    I have another small story big lesson!!! I will try to convey it… I was shoveling the driveway late afternoon and the shovel loads probably weighed a good 25-35 lbs. Maybe 8-12 inches of snow. And our house had a decent amount of snow it sometimes will take a good 2 months for certain parts that turn to ice right next to the driveway and the street (the sun doesn’t hit it too good b/c our house blocks the sun) but I shoveled so much snow out into the middle of the street that cars would slow down during this stretch of about 15-25yds that had about 4 inches of snow piled up. But some cars ran over it and helped it melt faster. The lesson is this: if the snow is sin if we confess it to others or even tell many people they will probably pass it around to even more people as people tend to do and it is passed around to so many people that the sin melts and you don’t have to deal with it anymore. However you could say telling everyone your sin is like casting your pearls before swine and letting them trample all over you. But either way “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so you may be healed.”

  5. John Fong
    Feb 22, 2011
    at 8:22 am

    It is so sad to see how much we have in America and how much we complaint of what we don’t have. ME INCLUDED! For many Americans, we live with our eyes closed to the rest of the world. It is all about me. Thank you for the post and put me back in the real world. I had lived in that world for 17 years of my life before I moved to America. May God raise up a new generation to fulfill the great commission.

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