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The Needy in America vs the Needy in the Third World: Who Is More Worthy of American Aid?

Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die. ~U2

One of the reactions I’ve heard about my trip to Sri Lanka and about supporting World Vision is that we [Americans] should help our own people first. I don’t know if that same sentiment turns up in other first world counries like Canada and the UK – perhaps readers from those countries could speak to that in the comments. But it’s fairly common here in the States.

family in truck in Sri Lanka

Copyright World Vision. Photo by Matthew Paul Turner.

When I first went to Bolivia, I didn’t really know how to respond to that idea. Now that I have seen what third-world poverty looks like and had several months to think about it, my response is to ask a few questions.

1.) Do you think that the needy in the USA have more value than the needy anywhere else? Do you think Americans deserve more or deserve to be first? Why? What gives someone who lucked into a US birth certificate is more valuable or important that someone with a Sri Lankan birth certificate? When you say that we should help “our own” it sounds like you are setting Americans above everyone else, and that feels very icky to me. I believe in the inherent value of human life, no matter where that life is lived. We can be patriotic without demeaning or devaluing others.

2.) If you do think that somehow Americans are better or more valuable or more important, have you ever considered how that attitude leads to things like anti-Semitism, white supremacy, male chauvinism, and ethnic cleansing? Do these comparisons disgust you? Do they offend you? Good. They should. The root of those ideologies is the hyper-valuing of one’s own people (race, ethnicity, gender) and the devaluing of others. These horrible attitudes are the logical conclusion of such ideas. Let me be clear. I am not saying that if you have pride in your country of origin, that makes you a bigot. But if your national pride leads to seeing others as somehow less, you should stop and think it through a little further.

3.) If you agree with me that no one person has more value than another, then what exactly is your objection to helping someone in another country? If you agree that their life is as valuable and important as yours, and if they are starving or dying of preventable illness or being sold into slavery, shouldn’t we help? Do we not have an obligation to do what we can, no matter where they live? Wouldn’t we want someone to help us if we were unlucky enough to find ourselves in such circumstances? What does it say about us if we refuse? What does it say about you?

It is true that some in America are suffering. They are without work and without health insurance. People lose their homes to fires, storms, and bankruptcy. Our systems, like child and family services, Medicaid, public schools, and food stamps need to be better funded, and better thought out.

But.

We have programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and child services. Our babies get immunized against killer diseases like hepatitis, measles, whooping cough, and tetanus. The mosquitoes in the US might carry West Nile virus, but they don’t carry malaria, dengue fever, or Japanese encephalitis. We can drink water from the tap and from the water hose without fearing that we will pick up a parasite that could kill us or infect us for life. We have sewer systems and trash pick-up instead of trenches of waste running along the street that we have to step across when we enter and leave any building in town. We have closets full of shoes. We have antibiotics.

The people in Sri Lanka don’t have what we have. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

And leads me to the idea that we should help our own first because countries like Sri Lanka aren’t helping us. This was a new one for me, but here it is.

Sri Lanka should help us before we help them.

 

Okay. Let’s break this down.

Sri Lanka lost 38,000 people in the 2004 tsunami. They’ve lost 70,000 people to a 17-year civil war that just ended in 2009, with another 500,000 people without homes because of the conflict. I did the math, and this is fully one-third of the entire population either dead or homeless because of war or natural disaster in the last 20 years. Bring it home — what if one out of every three people in the US was dead or homeless? On top of all this human loss, their economy is in shambles. The average annual income in Sri Lanka is $2,290. And you want them to help the richest nation in the world?

I think an analogy may help.

Denying aid to Sri Lanka because they aren’t helping us first is like telling the victims of the Joplin tornado to manicure the White House lawn before we will help them rebuild. Requiring a third world country to help a first world country is like telling a child sex slave that we won’t rescue them until they send Donald Trump $100.

bare feet in Sri Lanka

Copyright World Vision. Photo by Matthew Paul Turner.

I don’t know how to say this tactfully, so I won’t. This idea is ludicrous. We are one of the richest nations in the world. We don’t need help. We need to be more responsible with our resources. We need to share.

We need to help people like the ones I’m visiting in Sri Lanka. They aren’t lazy, and they aren’t stupid. They are some of the most ingenious creative people I’ve ever met. They are like MacGyver, making something out of practically nothing, like the guys who climb palm trees for coconut nectar. But this isn’t a television show. This is for real.

And the thing is that they need the basics that we take for granted: things like safe drinking water, shoes, mosquito repellant, soap, toothpaste, trash pick-up, sewers, vaccines. They need hope that the way things are isn’t the way things have to stay. The kind of poverty experienced in the third world is a hopeless fatalistic poverty. They have no safety nets. Without someone extending a hand to help them up, they have no way of bettering themselves. None. This poverty is in a completely different category than the poverty in the US, where with a lot of hard work (and some help), you can get yourself out.

Now I’m not saying that we in America have it all. We have our own special kind of poverty: a poverty of generosity, of compassion, of connection and community. These are things Sri Lankans are rich with. So in that sense, supporting World Vision’s work is a give and take. We give our financial resources, and they teach us how to be good global neighbors.

Where you live should not determine if you live.  Where you live should determine what you give.

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Comments

  1. Tanya Marlow says:

    A big amen to this – I think we need always to have the global picture, and it’s all too easy to become myopic, just focusing on ourselves.
    Tanya Marlow recently posted..A New Name: When it’s bad to be the ‘good girl’My Profile

  2. Sarah D. says:

    Hi Joy! I read the comment you are referencing above on your Facebook page. Wow! I have to admire you, your friends and husband for their tempered responses as I may not have been so kind in response. We get questions such as his a lot when we talk about adopting internationally. Seemingly well-meaning people want to remind us that there are orphans and children in foster care in the U.S. We are aware of this, but believe that God calls us to a more global perspective. We still don’t know if God will call us to adopt domestically or internationally, but why should it matter as long as we do what God has called us to do in passages such as James 1:27 and Micah 6:8?

  3. KatR says:

    The irony is that many of the same people who get huffy about helping the poor in other countries are the first ones who want to cut health care and food stamps for the poor in this country. There is no way to help the poor that is “correct” in their eyes.

  4. Stacey says:

    YES! YES! YES! Thank you for writing with boldness and truth. I’m from Canada and have received the same response from more people than I can count and it boggles my mind. A human in need is a human in need. That’s all we need to know.

  5. THANK YOU for sharing this! As an adoptive mama (domestic) I grow weary of those who congratulate me on helping kids from “home” rather than “over there.” I try hard not to roll my eyes and I use it instead as an opportunity to educate – people in need are people in need – it doesn’t matter where they are from. And God calls different people to meet those needs.

    My husband and I met an adoptive need in the US, while we meet child sponsorship needs in Kenya and Haiti. We have friends who have met international adoption needs, but do an amazing job helping orphans and the poor on US soil as well. It’s frustrating getting “advice” on how I should be helping from people who don’t help ANYWHERE – here OR abroad!

    My small group has been working through “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself.” It talks an awful lot about the poverty of spirit, rather than material goods, for those of us in the West. Wish everyone would read it and reexamine their thinking. I had a lot of food for thought after reading that, as well as “The Hole in Our Gospel.”

    Okay. Rant over.

  6. Rea says:

    I think sometimes when people ask ‘what about our people’ they are pushing a bit against the perceived idea that it is ‘cool’ to help a 3rd world nation, when children in our country go to bed hungry, or live in shacks, or don’t have running water or heat in their homes. And I think that it is good for us to push on that a little bit, to open our eyes to poverty in our own country. Sometimes it is easier to focus on the other countries, because otherwise we would have to admit that things aren’t working out so great for some people in our own, and sometimes proximity demands a whole lot more of a response then just sending a check.

    But I don’t see any reason that we have to set up this idea of either/or. It’s not us against the Sri Lankans, us against the Bolivians, us against…fill in the blank. If people feel called to help poverty in the US, great! Why can’t we do both? If local is your passion, hook up with a domestic aid organization. Others are passionate about global aid.
    Rea recently posted..Losing my religionMy Profile

  7. So glad you are writing about all of this. I guess I might be slightly ok with these sort of American-centric statements if I saw people actually helping the poor here. If you aren’t into “funding laziness” then you best be serving, or you don’t really have a right to enter into the conversation. Too harsh?
    D.L. Mayfield recently posted..Sticky StereotypesMy Profile

  8. Joy, this is excellent! I love your perspective. I’ve served both here in my inner city and abroad in third world countries. Some disciples were sent, Paul, and others stayed in their communities. I think it boils down to obedience. Go where you’re sent. Support those who are called to go, wherever they’re called to go. Who are we to say, God’s direction is the wrong direction. If we spent more time in support of one another’s desires to serve and less time on criticizing those who are serving (to whatever capacity), I think every country would be in a much better place. And, I totally agree on the poverty here in the US. I’d add, that we also suffer from poverty of faith…in our brothers and sisters.
    LoveFeast Table recently posted..Inspiration & Tips For Grilling & EntertainingMy Profile

  9. hopefulleigh says:

    Great response, Joy. I’m so proud of you. Keep speaking truth, my friend.
    hopefulleigh recently posted..Hurricanes, a Job Search, and a Mustard Seed of FaithMy Profile

  10. Great perspective, passionately written by a woman who knows first-hand the perils of sharing our bounty only with those with whom we share nationality. God’s original call for Christians to care for the poor knew no such boundaries. Thanks for tackling this tough issue with respect,wisdom and with your own actions, Joy. Love you!
    Megan (FriedOkra) recently posted..Welcome to the Parent ‘Hood!My Profile

  11. Sarah says:

    Such truth, Joy. We are suffering from a poverty of compassion, and we need to do more.
    Sarah recently posted..A Moment of Soul CareMy Profile

  12. ed cyzewski says:

    If someone had asked me why help the poor over there instead of over here, I would have struggled to put into words like you have. Well done Joy. Your closing lines are solid gold!
    ed cyzewski recently posted..My Hazardous Faith Story: Serve in Africa, Don’t Serve in AfricaMy Profile

  13. Bravo, Joy. Well said.

    Personally, we do both. We support overseas programs and local solutions. Why must one choose when the need is so great?
    Kelly @ Love Well recently posted..Foodie Friday : S’more PopcornMy Profile

  14. Lauren Jean says:

    I love this. I’ve been working with orphans in Mexico for years now, and it hurts me when people say I should be devoting that time to “our own.” Or the fact that “they don’t help us, ” Since when was that part of the Great Commission? In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of it. He said “Go!” not “Wait around till they help you. Anyway, thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in my thinking.
    Lauren Jean recently posted..He said, “Go”My Profile

  15. Since you enjoy these questions so much, I suggest you try adopting from a third world country so that you can then field the ‘why don’t you take care of the kids in America?’ questions.

    Funny how these questions NEVER come from people who have actually bothered to care for ANY orphans, in America or anywhere else.
    missy @ it’s almost naptime recently posted..Cause I’m not that momMy Profile

  16. Susanelizabeth says:

    Amen!!! A few months back Gwen at 147 million orphans was taking donations for their next trip. I posted it on my FB wall. A “well meaning” friend replied, “Dear Friend, although I understand there are needs ‘over there’, we have them too and I chose to help those who are in need ‘here’.” Then she wrote, “Besides, how can we turn a blind eye to our ‘own’. ” I replied with as loving an answer as possible, then deleted her comment as I refuse to have fussing on my FB pg and didn’t want to give other people an invitation to continue the discussion. I help any place or anywhere I can. To me, there is no “here” or “there”. It’s just “Us”.

  17. Arianne says:

    I think this is so good, Joy. Your post speaks to such an important issues, and I’m loving your passion. Praying for you guys!
    Arianne recently posted..Friday link shindig: Friend editionMy Profile

  18. Such a powerful response to a sentiment I hear all too often. Beautifully and poignantly spoken, Joy.
    Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..twins: twelve weeksMy Profile

  19. Margaret says:

    Amen. Few things irk me more than when people criticize a good action for not being another good action.
    Margaret recently posted..Seven Quick Takes, Volume 7My Profile

  20. Why shouldn’t we just give sacrificially and allow God to do what He does??? It makes me so sad when people proclaim to have all the answers. Really, in the end, all we can do is serve where our heart calls us. But the judgement…that is not from the Lord, it is from this world. And judgement certainly doesn’t help care for people at home OR abroad.

    I love what you’re doing. I love your heart. I am proud of you.
    the Blah Blah Blahger recently posted..LAST MINUTE HOSPITALITYMy Profile

  21. Hope says:

    Why would it have to be one or the other? Since when does God minister to the needs of one group to the detriment of another?
    In the story of the “Good Samaritan” we not only see an “enemy” or foreigner ministering to a dying man because his own countrymen were on their way to minister somewhere else and didn’t have time to tend to him. We always focus on what the Samaritan did but there are just as many of us who won’t stop because we are so busy headed out to minister somewhere else. We will walk past or step over the body of someone who needs a touch, a gentle word or kind gesture because we need to go minister somewhere else.
    Ravi and Evie Kumar are great examples of this. They head up Real Hope Ministries in India. During the year, in the middle of planning yearly trips, raising awareness of the needs of the villages, they minister here. Evie ministers to local drug addicted women. Ravi works with developmentally disabled adults in a group home. All of this and raising a family too! (http://realhopeministriesindia.blogspot.com/)
    What if our training to minister abroad included reaching into our own communities? Why can’t we raise awareness for both? We may have less financial poverty in the US but I firmly believe we have enough emotional and spiritual poverty here to keep us all busy without ignoring the global needs.
    FWIW, I touched on this while writing my Saturday post: http://ahopefuloutlook.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-good-samaritan-taught-me.html

  22. My take is why does it have to be either-or? Help who you feel drawn to help. I really wonder if people with that kind of thinking help anyone.
    LarryTheDeuce recently posted..Love Thy Rival, Samaritan’s Purse and HaitiMy Profile

  23. Jen says:

    World Vision does help “our” own if that is truly someone’s issue. http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/us-home?open&lpos=top_drp_OurWork_US
    Having once worked for the organization though I know that there is no “our” in that organization. It a place where all of God’s people come together to help those in need. Loving our neighbors wherever they may be.

    • Jen says:

      With that in mind it might be a good idea for World Vision to do a blogger trip to some of its US programs?

      • Joy says:

        I totally agree. That is something I’ve heard them discuss doing. I would expect to see it in the near future.

  24. Louise says:

    Well, I’m from the UK and I don’t think we have the same attitude about this. We live in the lap of luxury compared to many people and because of free health care, generous benefits etc. I think we do try to care for the poor at home and there are tons of appeals that are well-supported for people around the world. It seems very selfish and unloving to say ‘let’s just care for Americans’.

  25. Michelle says:

    I agree with so much of what you say here, Joy. Our level of poverty is nothing compared to that of third world countries. Your article is so articulate and thorough and I am very excited to hear about your mission trip.

    But I want to address something I do disagree with. “We have our own special kind of poverty: a poverty of generosity, of compassion, of connection and community. ”

    Really, Joy. America as a whole is one of the first countries to show up on the scene to help other countries. Although individuals may criticize this, I do not see the majority of Americans complain about it or have a poverty of compassion when it comes to helping others.

    Missions to other countries as a whole continue to grow both in Christian churches and in the secular world.

    Now the connection and community part: well, it seems we are poor indeed, and it is sad.

    • Joy says:

      You are right that Americans are very quick to respond to disasters in other countries, and I’m proud of that. But I’m talking about much smaller, more everyday failures of compassion. We are unwilling to go out of our way to be uncomfortable or to give up our best for others. We are generous when it’s convenient and when we can do things in a non-messy way. We like to send money or food aid, but we are very hesitant to welcome people into our homes or move into the inner city or sacrifice our time. Soccer games and piano lessons and our personal agendas are the most important. I didn’t realize what a self-centered way of living this was until I visited Bolivia and Sri Lanka and saw people with a fraction of what I have bending over backwards to welcome us, sharing their scarce food and opening their tiny one-room shacks to us when I hesitate to have people over because I don’t have a guest bedroom and have to clean up first. I am ashamed of myself and of my country when I see how sacrificially hospitable others are.

  26. Kerusso says:

    Wow. I don’t think I could say it any better. Fantastic!
    Kerusso recently posted..Haters and HypocrisyMy Profile

  27. Gina M. says:

    Very well said. :)

  28. Linds says:

    I live in the UK and even though we are in the middle of unbelievably tough austerity measures to try and bring our national debt under control, Foreign Aid is ring-fenced and, indeed rises each year in accordance with the percentage of the budget it has been allocated.
    I agree wholeheartedly. We have no idea how rich we are. I am a widow with a minimal income, and yet I am still among the top 15% of wealthy people in the world. Do the maths. There is always room to reach out, and how much more important is it to do it out of good generous peaceful will without an eye on future benefit to our countries. Excellent article!
    Linds recently posted..Weddings and weekends…….My Profile

  29. Thanks for expressing this so well!

    I generally splutter with rage when people express sentiments like these; but your response is much better said.
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm recently posted..So, Who Wants to See Pie Charts About Themselves?My Profile

    • Joy says:

      Confession: I had to cool off before posting this. I was very angry when I read the Facebook comment — shaking angry. I had to take some time to calm down and clear my head before I could write this!

  30. EXCELLENT! I’m a Child Ambassador with World Vision and have been coming across some of these very concerns from my fellow Christian American friends. It is a tough thing to address sometimes and I love your clear examples. Thank you for this very timely relevant piece!

  31. Esther says:

    Well said. Thanks for the frank perspective. I wouldn’t have believed that we in the US suffered from a poverty of compassion, either, until I went to Nicaragua. There I had a desperately poor (by my standards) family insist that I eat their best food and sleep in their best bed. (Would I have done that? Especially if my own kids were hungry?) And I watched people completely rearrange their schedules for us, which I took for granted until a year later when an acquaintaince from Nicaragua came up with his US born fiancee, and they suggested at short notice that they could come over to my house, and I found myself turning them down. I have a JOB, you see, and I’m too BUSY, and it was my daughter’s BIRTHDAY. In retrospect, I can’t believe myself. That is what I call comparative poverty of generosity.

  32. Sharon Limbaugh says:

    Well spoken. Lash out and they remain ignorant. Explain and teach and they might have an epiphany and change their point of view. I love the , “where you live should determine what you give.”

  33. You go, girl. That response on FB was one of the most short-sighted I’ve ever read. Yes, indeed, we need to be aware of those in need next door. We surely do. But we also need to be aware of those in need around the world – and thanks to WV and this team, we are being educated in vitally important ways about vitally important things. Keep it up. Praying for you all!
    Diana Trautwein recently posted..Sunday MusingsMy Profile

  34. Jessica says:

    My response to the “why help overseas” has always been that even though we have “our own” poor here, they are in a much better position than the poor elsewhere. I do think we should be engaged in our local community too. It’s not easy and our family is trying to figure out what that looks like for us. And usually, I’ve found, the people who protest to helping across borders and say “help our own first” are using people who aren’t helping anyone…not even their “own.”

    But it’s that giving sacrificially that’s hardest–whether it’s financially or with time, etc. We like our comforts and conveniences. We like easy.
    Jessica recently posted..Good, Christian ApathyMy Profile

  35. GraemeMark says:

    Well said.. You’ve unraveled the old argument well and I applaud you for it because it’s not an easy one to answer. “Charity begins at home” is practically a truism, but I’d be suspicious of those who use it as an argument against charity abroad..

    I know of some, though, who regularly embark on humanitarian work of some kind or another on the other side of the world, and behave in a very uncharitable manner when they return.. I’d question their motives just as much..

  36. Bekka says:

    I’m partly speechless that people would use the argument about helping people at home to say don’t go AT ALL. Everyone that I’ve ever encountered [in person] with anything to say on the subject has always said that it’s good to practice showing love to our neighbours to help prepare for missions and aid elsewhere, but never have I heard them say essentially “don’t go until all our own poor are looked after”…

    Maybe it is cultural after all. Or maybe I’ve been fortunate in my dealings with people. But then again, Canadians are generally helpful folk [present government who has frozen foreign aid, excluded].

    Joy, I think you raise excellent points and I agree wholeheartedly with you and your efforts. Praying for you and the team as you travel.

  37. My husband and I have struggled with this issue. Partly because we’ve been involved in international mission work ourselves where a LOT of the money invested went to “administrative costs” (i.e. never made it off U.S. soil) and being burned that way makes us incredibly skeptical when it comes to foreign aid work. We have found aid organizations we feel we can be part of (World Vision being one of them! Yeah!). But we’ve also chosen to spend some of our charitable dollars closer to home – not because the people here “deserve it” more – but because sometimes the dollars have greater impact because they don’t have to travel so far or jump so many hurdles from an administrative standpoint, and also because our children can SEE those dollars in action! For instance, we sponsor a family in our old neighborhood of Minneapolis attending a Christian charter school for their school supplies, and we will get the chance to bring them Christmas and birthday gifts throughout the year. This “rubbing elbow” with the poor in our own community will be good for us and good for our children, I believe.

    Just a few thoughts your beautiful post generated! I am awed that you had the intellectual energy to form such a thoughtful reply on this intense issue while you’re in the middle of Sri Lanka! Thinking of you always and remembering you in every prayer!

  38. Susan Guerra says:

    The person who said about helping our own used a keyword “START”.

    Charity or helping should start in your own home. Cuz whats the point of traveling to the other side of the world when you dont help your neighbor who has a need? Isnt that being a hypocrite?

    You raised good points, however, I sensed alot of anger and I had to re read it. My initial reaction was to contradict everything you wrote because I felt you were attacking me directly.

    I was born and raised in a 3rd world country (which the political correct term is”emerging country” now) and now that I live in the USA I go back every year to serve them, because I love them.

    However, I dont start nor end there. My desire is that my life is a constant blessing to those around me – doest matter if its a wealthy or poor person. Everyone has a need and I want God to use me to meet that need.

    So I agree with those that have said there shouldnt be an either/or attitude, I agree with you when you challenge us to leave our personal agendas so we can be more selfless towards others and I would like to add that whatever we do, we do it with love. At all times.

  39. Love this post, Joy. We got this same jazz when we went to Cambodia. I finally started retorting (sweetly), “You’re so right. We have so many needs here in America. What are some things you and your family are doing to help alleviate those needs?” SILENCE. When you have a heart for the poor, you’ll help them anywhere–in your subdivision, in your city, across the world, anywhere. When you don’t, you whine about people who do.
    Marla Taviano recently posted..forty glorious years!!My Profile

  40. Melissa says:

    , I try to wrap my brain around sentiments like that and wonder why does helping people here and helping people there- why do others think it has to be mutually exclusive? By all means,help your “fellow Americans” but that doesn’t give a free pass to ignore the pain and suffering in the rest of the world. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to keep your money and philanthropic efforts in America, right? Or am I reading something wrong?
    I am praying for your trip to Sri Lanka and that God moves hearts here in the US and anywhere to want to sponsor a child!
    Melissa recently posted..Hitting the booksMy Profile

  41. As an adoptive parent of a Chinese daughter who has gotten the same sort of sentiment directed at our family, thank you for your well written defense here about doing what God calls us to do.

  42. Hi Joy,
    We get the same sort of sentiment here in New Zealand, and frankly we DO have a serious problem with child poverty in our nation. Yet our problem is like that of the US – we have enough but are being selfish with it. I have also noticed that those who most forcefully argue for giving to the poor in our own country first actually give the least (often what they really want is for someone else, like the government, to help the poor). The people who are sponsoring children overseas commonly do a lot for their local communities also. Generosity and compassion grow as they are used.
    Mike McArthur recently posted..A Sunday prayerMy Profile

  43. Angela says:

    i know that this may not be a popular view but these people all have value because God tells us they do. He did not send HIS SON to only die for Americans. He came for all people. When Jesus walked the earth, He did not pick and choose people groups to help. He pushed down the barriers that we put up and met physical needs before He met spiritual needs.Telling someone that Jesus loves them and then going on your way when they have no home or food to eat is useless. The truth is, we should hurt for all people and we should feel a call from God to help ALL people… I think the second that we step back and say “I will only help” these particular people then we are choosing to omit Acts 1:8. I don’t wanna be the Christian who omits the portions of the Bible that I don’t like. I wanna live the call the God places in my life and sometimes that means doing hard things, in hard places and with hardly anything.
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  44. Yes, yes. Yes. The things those with less Stuff than we do could teach us–hospitality especially, as you mentioned–would probably require us actually going there with humility and openness, with an attitude of a learner. If we’re already assuming they have nothing to give, that the world’s poor have nothing to offer the rest of us, how _are_ the poor supposed to help? Is money really the only way to help another person?
    Thank you for this post.
    Heather Caliri recently posted..5 fears for 5 months abroad: Three toys, three books, and one bored mamaMy Profile

  45. Jenny S. says:

    Who could dare argue with this post, right? She’s in the trenches and it’s wrenching her heart out. I can sympathize (empathize – I’ve been there and seen it myself). The argument is well-written as always, but it doesn’t sit well with me. Let me see if I can say why.

    Two things popped into my mind during the first superficial read-through of the post.

    1) The poor will be with us always (John 12:8). This tells me that no matter how much we give (and we should give!) we will never be able to eliminate poverty on the globe. It seems that the closest we could come to ever eliminating the poor (or at least making everyone poor so that no one feels poor) is a one-world government where everything is evenly distributed. And you know what that means – the end is near and all will be destroyed by fire anyway.

    2) It is biblical and logical that you take care of your own first (I Tim 5:8). The fact of the matter is that there are third world countries and first world countries – each of them has poverty and the poor according to the level of its world status. The fact of the matter is that although it may seem unfair to be born poor (or luck out with a US birth certificate), it happens. There are two things no one can control – where you are born and who you are born to.

    So here are a few simple questions I would ask:
    1) Is America really a first world country responsible to help the global poor first before it cares for its own? Should we just print up some more play money and pretend to help Sri Lanka? (Proverbs 25:14 – Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.)

    2) If you’re not in control of where you’re born or who you’re born to, who is? Think about where God has placed you and why. Are you one of the poor in this country left wondering why you are overlooked and put off for the sake of those considered by your fellow Christian as even less fortunate than you in an entirely distant and different country? Are you taking care of your own first before you fly off to Never-never Land and preach the Gospel to the Natives? Have you taken care of the poor in your neighborhood, your city, your state (let alone your country)?

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