Just because I do not have doesn't mean I am in poverty. Poverty is when you have everything in the world and yet you are still lonely, she said with wise eyes.
The trip into the Kibera slums was a tactical experience; an assault on all senses. Smells, sights, touch, sounds, even the taste of the air set my senses on fritz. Overwhelmed by what Americans would consider the worst living conditions imaginable, I couldn't help but feel anesthetized by my surroundings.
While processing with a woman from the area, she discussed our Western idea of poverty and I was floored by the simplicity of her statement. Essentially, true poverty is having it all yet feeling nothing.
I asked the fabulous folks at (in)courage if I could live blog while in Nairobi, Kenya. I thought I'd have organizations to mention and pass along children to sponsor… but we've seen and heard that before.
We become anesthetized to our global surroundings and overwhelmed with what we can do. How can we make a difference? How can we change the world?
One of the poignant occurrences yesterday in the slums was the absence of need. Ironically, no one asked for a shilling, a jacket, or a morsel of food. Conversation and touch was the greatest gift we could give.
We are blessed to live in America. But I'm wrestling with the idea of poverty. Instead of looking at the wide scope of global poverty let's start with our own sphere of influence! Who can you reach in your world who is living in emotional poverty, spiritual poverty, or relational poverty? Give them your time, touch, and maybe even a conversation.
Together we can change the world through the empowering of Christ's love. See the world through His eyes today. Matthew 25:31-46
by Bianca, In the Name of LoveLeave a Comment
Charissa Steyn says
Bianca… this was beautifully said. Thank you for such insightful thoughts into poverty. Living in South Africa has changed me dramatically I am wrestling with all this on a daily basis. I love this part, “no one asked for a shilling, a jacket, or a morsel of food. Conversation and touch was the greatest gift we could give.” This is how I want to live daily..thank you for inspiring me today:)
Thank you for this reminder. I will remind myself of this advice when longing to make a difference in the world. There is always so much to give simply within my existing acquaintances.
Melissa Austin says
My brother and his family lived in Nairobi, Kenya and came home in March after living there a year while they were adopting my youngest niece. I was able to visit them last June for a month and then again in February for 10 days helping them prepare to come home. What an experience being faced with poverty unlike I had ever seen before. I came away impacted by two organizations (Amani and Kazuri) who train women in a skill so that they can provide for their families. At Amani they introduce the ladies to the love of Jesus Christ. I have forever been changed because of the time I spent in Kenya!
Becky Ramsey says
Oh, this is so true.
I see men and women on my Meals on Wheels route who are so alone. They need the food I bring, but what they really crave is touch and conversation. That sort of poverty gnaws at the soul.
Excellent insight. Thank you for bringing it forward. You’ve hit on the heart of ministry and your challenge inspires. May God open our eyes and empower us to act as He leads.
donna o says
Wow….how true your words are. People in our neighborhood, living alone, eating alone, being alone, dying alone…so very sad to me. In all the struggles we have faced as a family, nothing compares to loneliness. Yet, about 18 months ago, as I went through the loneliest time of my life, I was still never without hope—never without knowing God will never, ever leave me. I am praying for opportunities to share that truth with people IRL! Thanks for the reminder of what poverty can be!
Jaycee (E.A) says
I totally agree. There are people living in slums who are way happier than those living in palaces. And it only goes further to stretch the point of this post. Loneliness is poverty. It is a lack of joy spiritually.
This is absolute truth. I find that often, when I start to feel like I am going down the road of depression, it is truly loneliness. This is a lonely world. We do not have a lot of money, not like most of our friends and they are all always so terribly busy, that there is no time for socializing. While growing up, my life was far from ideal but the one thing I always cherished, was the social aspect of our life. Having friends over for football games or bbq and that just doesn’t seem to happen anymore. I miss it. If only folks could slow down. Your children will grow up okay if they are not in every single sport and activity. Really.
great post…it really got me thinking about my perspective on poverty…thanks for sharing!
That was an excellent post and I have shared it on facebook and plan on linking it at my blog later in the week.
Yes! Very true and such a great message. Thanks for sharing. Truly I am blessed to live in America. Praise the Lord!! I definitely plan on looking around at the people around me to give them my time and energy, etc. God bless you!
Wow! Thanks for the love and support. It’s been so cool to see missions, God’s love, and true relationships form in Africa and I’m blessed to discuss it with new people!
Laura @Life Overseas says
We are currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand, directing an orphanage for girls, and the poverty here is overwhelming, too. I just finished Amber Schoonveld’s (sp?) book entitled HOPE LIVES. It’s put out by Compassion, and it was a great read about how to engage our hearts with the both the global and local poor. She, too, talks about the “poverty of the soul,” and how we Americans are often beggars when it comes to compassion, authentic worship, radical obedience.
Thanks for this post, Bianca.
John Ray says
I have found so many interesting articles & information on various topics in your blog especially its discussion. I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work. I like your presentation.
we go – to poverty-ravished places and want to give “things”…. God takes us there and requires us to give ourSELVES.
“Conversation and touch was the greatest gift we could give”
yes. And so much harder… to reach out… reach across the invisible divide and make contact… contact that demolishes prejudice, difference, and lines of separation and reminds us that we are all human… we are all created by God… and we are all priceless in His eyes.
it is so much easier to give “things” than give ourselves… but God asks us for so much more…
*sigh* praying for your team… so excited for all God is doing already in your heart 🙂 blessings be upon you in abundance!
Bianca, I just got back from Kibera less than a week ago. Those tactical experiences are still rich in my memory – so much so that sometimes I feel as if I can reach out and touch the dirt and cardboard walls or hear the kids crying “how are you?! how are you?! how are you?!”
I miss it – so much. And because I know where you are, because I’ve just left pieces of my heart where you are walking, I know how to pray for you and your team. What you say is so true. These people are not stuck in poverty. They are some of the richest in community and faith and love and hope – and over these past few days I’ve found myself longing to be back.
Thanks for your insight. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in my country Kenya. I was once invited to a wedding in a church with holes in its tin roof. In that service the Holy Spirit flowed, love was palpable and the joy of the Lord was contagious. I left that service with a clear understanding of true wealth which is unshakable faith in God because no one can steal it from you and it can carry you through all problems even those that money can’t solve such as inoperable brain tumors.