She was representing Gospel for Asia, a ministry that supports and sends out missionaries into remote places in the world who have yet to hear the gospel.
She spoke with us for a while and answered our questions, and then she handed us a book and said she trusted that we'd be changed after reading it. The book is called "Revolution in World Missions" by K.P. Yohannan. (K.P. is founder and international director for Gospel for Asia. GFA has more than 16,500 national missionaries in Asia, operates 67 Bible colleges in several nations, and heads up a movement that has planted more than 30,000 congregations.)
The reason I am writing this today is because Jerry started reading this book yesterday. At dinner last night, he read aloud an excerpt from the book, and it was sobering, humbling, and very convicting, to say the least. I wanted to share this excerpt with you here, because I think we here in the United States (especially those of us who have never left America and visited a remote, impoverished country) are extremely comfortable and, to be frank, clueless, about what it means to be poor. As our economy struggles and many of us worry about our loss of job, inability to pay our bills, buy groceries and put gas in our cars, we still can't begin to understand the meaning of what it means to truly struggle, to starve, and to live in extreme poverty. (Please understand, I am not minimizing the impact of what you are personally going through...I know these are hard times for our country and I am not saying that these concerns and worries are not valid. I will openly admit here that I often panic when it comes to our family finances!) I just wanted to share this today because I was really impacted by what Jerry read to us, and I wanted to give you a chance to read it too and respond as you felt lead.
K.P. included the following excerpt in his book, because he wants the reader to gain some sort of understanding of just how much we have here in this country. In his book, he details how he felt when he arrived in this country to go to a bible college. Culture shock doesn't even begin to describe his feelings when he saw the affluence and prosperity in the United States. This excerpt was written by an economist named Robert Heilbroner. In it, he describes the luxuries a typical American family would have to surrender if they lived among the 1 billion hungry people in the Two-Thirds World. Read this. It will astound you.
We begin by invading the house of our imaginary American family to strip it of its furniture. Everything goes: beds, chairs, tables, television sets, lamps. We will leave the family with a few old blankets, a kitchen table, a wooden chair. Along with the bureaus go the clothes. Each member of the family may keep in his wardrobe his oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. We will permit a pair of shoes for the head of the family, but none for the wife or children.We move to the kitchen. The appliances have already been taken out, so we turn to the cupboards...the box of matches may stay, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt. A few moldy potatoes, already in the garbage can, must be rescued, for they will provide much of tonight's meal. We will leave a handful of onions and a dish of dried beans. All the rest we take away: the meat, the fresh vegetables and fruit, the canned goods, the crackers, the candy.Now we have stripped the house: the bathroom has been dismantled, the running water shut off, the electric wires taken out. Next we take away the house. The family can move to the tool shed....communications must go next. No more newspapers, magazines, books- not that they are missed, since we must take away our family's literacy as well. Instead, in our shantytown, we will allow one radio.Now government services must go next. No more postmen, no more firemen. There is a school, but it is three miles away and consists of two classrooms...there are, of course, no hospitals or doctors nearby. The nearest clinic is ten miles away and is tended by a midwife. It can be reached by bicycle, provided the family has a bicycle, which is unlikely...Finally, money. We will allow our family a cash hoard of $5.00.
K.P. goes on to say that this is an accurate description of the lifestyle and world from which he came. He says that the moment his feet touched American soil, "he walked around in an unbelieving daze. How can two so different economies coexist simultaneously on the earth?"
If you'd like to help, or your heart is stirred to respond to what you've read, visit www.gfa.org.