The Poor: Peru Mission Trip #2

Peru (128)

Red beads click around a little girl’s neck as she skips down the hill. Children clothed in plaid uniforms and back packs head from shanty to school. Women clip laundry to twine in simple drying arrangements. Abandoned dogs scour streets, roosters peck on cardboard, and turkeys hop over ruble. City life is happening all around us as we go. We go to the people today to tell them about Jesus.

We walk up a dirt path that is so far from the indulgent lifestyle we are accustom. When our shoes push against over-worked earth, a funnel of dust swirls behind us. We reach the top and enter a squeezed-in-town with crudely built homes. Each dwelling place is constructed by individual families. They are made with boards and concrete and they hang off steep terraces of ground. Electrical wires cling to weathered poles and shoot through the shanty town. There is no running water here, only barrels of water dropped off for the people. This dry land makes me thirsty from the inside out.

My eyes scan a town with a paucity of resources and I know.

This is what Jesus came for.

This is who Jesus came for.

He came for them, He came for us.

The King of the Universe, clothed in splendor took off His royal robe, laid aside His crown and squeezed all of the fullness of God into a place like this… dirt floors, smelly troughs, loud noises, and meager surroundings. He calls my name right here and how I long to recognize Him here.

 

Peru (171)

The squeezed-in-places, the dry-well-places, the moments that are loud and messy and uncertain, this is what He came for. The longings, the heartaches, the doubt and the wounds that our sin carves deep, that’s why He is here. And all this life suspended on rocky soil and empty paths, isn’t this why we come? Isn’t this why we take the Gospel to those with no foundation and say with all the longing in our hearts, “Come, Lord Jesus”?

I may not know this kind of physical poverty, but I do know what spiritual poverty feels like.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” Luke 4:18-19.

Jesus is here for the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed. However, when Jesus speaks of the poor, he isn’t always referring to those who live in shanty towns or have limited income. He also refers to those who are poor in spirit (see Matthew 5:3).

I remember being poor in spirit.

I remember my own personal depravity.

I will never forget my water into wine moment where Jesus created something new out of something old. When I said, “Yes,” and He did too. When He mended this broken heart; rubbed salve over blind eyes; and broke chains of oppression in my life.

A signal to return down the mountain interrupts my thought process. So I shuffle forward and I am quiet, humble, and overwhelmed. I know now… the truly blessed ones are the ones who know they are destitute of righteousness. And oh how I  know this.

“The Lord helps all who fall; He raises up all who are oppressed. All eyes look to you and you give them their food in due time. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing,” Psalm 145:8-16.

 

 Peru (154)

 

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2 Responses

05.27.14

I never want to forget my own depravity. It’s what keeps me under His protective cover and what keeps me focused on the needs of others rather than myself. This is so true… “the truly blessed ones are the ones who know they are destitute of righteousness.”

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I haven’t visited here in quite some time. Good to see you still writing.

Good post. I’ve not yet been to such an impoverished area, but my wife and I want to do so. My friends who have ministered in such areas say it changed their lives.

In the Sermon on the Mount, which you have already quoted, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3) In Matt. 5:6 he said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” But, in the Sermon on the Plain, he changes it to “Blessed are you who are poor” (Luke 6:20; he does not have in spirit) and “Blessed are you who hunger now” (Luke 6:21; he does not have for righteousness).

The Sermon on the Plain is harder for me to read. It gives honor and dignity to poverty and want. But, it makes me nervous that I have never experienced poverty, and don’t want to. Has our abundance spoiled us, and how does that hurt us spiritually?

Good post, one for a lot of reflection.
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