privilege and poverty

I have been reading the study called “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker. It’s totally rocking my world. (Thanks to my sis-in-law for sharing it with me)

In the book, she gives many statistics about the oppressed, impoverished, and those who can’t help themselves.

I feel like I can’t stop thinking about the stats… So I thought I would share some of them with you as well.

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Of the six billion people on planet Earth, about 1.2 billion live on 23 cents a day. 

Half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day

The wealthiest 1 billion people average $70 a day (where does that place us? In the upper, upper category). In fact, if you make $35,000 annually, you are in the top 4%. $55,000? You are the top 1%.

Someone dies of hunger ever 16 seconds.

Twenty-two million people died of PREVENTABLE diseases last year. Half of them children.

Twenty-seven million children and adults are trapped in slavery (sex slaves, labor slaves, child soldiers, child slaves). In fact there are more slaves now than ever before.

More than 143 million children in the world have been abandoned or orphaned. That’s equivalent to more than half of the US population.

In the last hour….

    More than 1600 children were forced on to the streets.

    At least 115 children have become prostitutes

    More than 66 children younger than 15 were infected with HIV. 

Roughly one billion people in the world do not have sustainable housing. 100 million… they are entirely homeless.

While forty percent of the world lacks basic water sanitation (which leads to death, sickness) Americans… we spend more than $16 billion dollars on bottled water a year.

We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on their entire goods.

Four out of five children work everyday worldwide instead of going to school; four out of five Americans graduate high school.

Eight percent of the rest of the world owns a car, one third of American families own three cars.

Close to 40 million people die every year from starvation, disease, malnutrition… while 65 percent of adults and 15 percent of children in the US are overweight or obese.

The USA makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. 

 

Mind blowing right? Convicting? Yes.

Now, I am not just saying these things to make us all feel guilty and depressed. I am sharing them because many of these stats I didn’t know! I wish I did. I wish I cared to know them more.

Just the past few weeks I have been praying that God would fill my inbox with newly engaged couples looking for a wedding photographer. And, that isn’t a bad thing to desire. But.. why did I feel worried or stressed about getting new business? Because I wanted to make a little extra this year to put away for a new car… and pay off our homes… and make sure we can retire comfortably… etc, etc. Those things aren’t bad. (and I am not saying that being a good steward of your finances and saving to provide for your family’s future is wrong). But, how often am I concerned about having enough? How often do I find myself buying in to a prosperity gospel and telling myself that God wants to bless us… and blessing us means having nice things right?

You know what I think God wants.

I think He wants… wait, I think He EXPECTS those of us (whom He has blessed beyond belief no doubt) to start doing something about the needs in rest of the world.

I am a Christian.

And I guess saying that here in the US can mean so many different things. Heck, when I googled it, it said that 70% of Americans identify themselves as being Christians.

I wonder how that appears to the rest of the world. We say we are Christ-followers (what the word Christian means) yet, we live in excess while everyone else cries out for intervention.

Did you know that there are more than 2,000 Bible verses that involve poverty, physical oppression and justice, and the retribution  of resources?

I think God cares big time about this…. just look at these few that I copied down…

Deuteronomy 10:18

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 15:11

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy

Isaiah 1:17

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

I want to follow Christ in this way. I want to be burdened about the things God cares about.

It’s one thing to say you are a Christian… but what if Christians actually started to live out our faith? If we really, really believed what we say we do… our lives should look different (me included).

Ghandi was quoted once saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I am not trying to stand on a pedestal here and call Christians hypocrites. I am talking to myself here too!

Too many times I have heard statistics, even witnessed plenty of poverty stricken areas with my own eyes, I get all fired up and then nothing happens.

And I am not knocking Americans, I promise. There are many people in our country who give so generously… and not just money… their love, time.. even dedicate their lives! I am just realizing that we (me included) have no idea or concept of our own prosperity. Nor do we really see what is happening around the globe. Our view is pretty limited.

So now that we are getting an idea, what do we do with it?

Do we believe that God wants us to care about these things? Do we believe that God wants us to do something about the orphan? The widow next door? What about the homeless man on the corner? What about the social injustices in our country and world?

I think He does.

It’s completely overwhelming and you may be tempted to think.. “What can I really do? I am just one person.” I think that all the time. But, whether we realize it or not… God will use us in bigger ways than we can imagine. I know He will. I have seen it in my own life.

I am going to start praying… and I hope you will join me.. about what it is God is laying on my heart. I can’t fight all the problems in the world, but He certainly can. And I am ready to help in whatever way He has for me.

Thanks for letting me vent… and as usual, ramble.

I can’t wait to finish this book over the next few weeks.

I would love to hear your thoughts too… please comment below!

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Wow. I needed to hear this. We all needed to hear this.

    I know some people don’t want to and get uncomfortable but, it’s the truth we don’t often see. Im so thankful you shared!

    I’ll be thinking as well more and more on what I can do now to make a difference. And I will certainly be more thankful for what I have!

  2. Those statistics are really eye opening. Very convicting to me when I think about the petty things I complain about. Thanks for sharing, Jenny. I have been following Jen Hatmaker’s blog, but I haven’t read the book.

  3. I’ll pray along with you. I also feel God stirring my heart and am willing to be obedient to what he asks. We are very blessed in America and I feel Gid wants us to be content, live simply, get rid of debt and give freely I know God will reveal to us how we can be used by Him to share what we have been given. We have been blessed in order to bless others. Thank you for encouraging me and affirming what God is telling me.

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