I love my children's class sweethearts.
Sometimes they are a wild bunch. Sometimes it's a crazy mix of ages and languages. They are often full of smiles and giggles. Sometimes their clothes are ripped. They are often dirty. They don't notice or care. They are just happy to be in children's class, singing "Read Your Bible" and laughing as they mimic growing like a plant.
All of my sweethearts are from families in such poverty that the American mind cannot fathom. Even many of the American homeless are better off than the majority of these families. They work in farming and agriculture and make just enough money to put the cheapest of foods on their plates. Many live in one room shacks right in the middle of the garden that they tend for the land owner. I look in my shoe cabinet and see more than a dozen pairs of shoes. I have warm weather shoes, cold weather shoes, shoes to match black outfits, shoes to match brown outfits, running shoes, biking shoes, aerobics shoes, and bedroom shoes. Most of these people have one pair of shoes: cheap and flimsy flip flops that they wear year round, in cold weather and hot weather and monsoon rains, and in all activities. They work in the fields in them, play soccer in them, walk to church in them, and walk to school in them.
Psalm 41:1 "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies."
It's easy to throw money at these situations to try to solve their problems. There is something much more difficult, though.
Would you give hugs and love on them through all the dirt?
Would you let these sweet faces crawl up in your lap even on the days they smell like urine?
Would you play with them and teach them and correct them day after day even when they can do nothing for you in return?
Would you hug the mom even with the threat of lice looming with every physical contact?
Yes, sometimes money does make an impact. Recently a woman sent us a substantial amount of money to minister to the children. She heard about them from 10,000 miles away and her heart was broken. I think she would have let every one of them crawl up in her lap, and she would have snuggled with each one as if they were her own grandchildren, dirt and all! We took the money and bought these precious babies much needed winter clothing. (They had absolutely nothing, and the temperatures were dropping.) The kids were thrilled, and so were the parents who could not properly clothe their own children. Their biggest thrill is that the "rich man" and his "high caste" partner plays with them and loves them. They know there is something special about this because in their culture, rich people and high caste people have nothing to do with poor, low caste people.
When you see the homeless man on the street, do you turn the other way? Is he too vile and dirty for your time and affection? When the drunk bum on the road staggers along through life, do you continue your Christmas shopping without thought of his eternity? Are you focused on your shopping and getting more and more stuff for yourself, your family, and your friends? Are you so busy with the season of giving and cheer that you have no time for ministering to those who have the greatest need? Are you showing them the Saviour? Are you reaching out to them, and especially reaching out to their greatest need, the need of salvation?
God shows great favor to those who consider the poor. After all, that's what He did for us. When we show love and affection for the poor, we demonstrate the character of God to the world around us. It's more than just throwing money at them. It's getting down in the dirt with them and removing the lines that separate us... just like Jesus did. He reached out to us. We were poor and dirty with sin. And yet, He invited us to crawl up in His lap. He didn't just give money to solve our physical problems. He spend time among us meeting the needs of our hearts, souls, and lives.
So what are you doing to show the love and compassion of our Saviour to those who are the lowest in our culture? Are you reaching them with the Gospel?