Thursday, February 16, 2017

What a Beach House Taught Me About Poverty

Matthew 25:34-40 - Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

My family never had an abundance of money when I was growing up. But somehow we always had what we needed, though often not what we wanted. With the help of scholarships, I worked my way through college. I met my wife in college and she helped me work through graduate school. Eventually I earned a doctorate. Through hard work, and careful planning, my wife and I have been able to provide a middle class lifestyle for our children. Though our children have never been rich, they have also never known poverty.

One of the blessings of being middle class is taking a vacation. For several summers my family enjoying a week at the beach, where we would rent a house for a week. For that one week in the summer, we enjoyed living like we were rich people at the beach, even though we were not. The summer my daughter got married we rented a bigger house than normal for all the wedding guests and we really felt rich. The house looked like something on a TV show about rich people. It helped that the groom’s family knew the owners and got us a good deal! During that week my family discussed how blessed we were to experience this level of luxury, even if only for a week. In the discussion we also talked about what it must be like for people who live in other nations in which such luxury is not possible, even for a week-long vacation.

We specifically talked about Haiti, since our family has visited that small island nation on a mission trip and one of my sons spent a whole summer serving orphans there. The poverty in Haiti is almost unimaginable. Food prices are so high in Haiti that some of the people eat what is commonly referred to as dirt biscuits. The biscuits are made from dried yellow clay mixed with water, salt and vegetable shortening or margarine. Though originally designed for medicinal purposes, the biscuits have now become the staple diet for some people in Haiti. It is hard for those of us who live in America to imagine people being so hungry they would eat a biscuit made from dirt. Yet, that is a common meal for far too many people in Haiti.

As we sat in our rented beach house enjoying our wedding party and eating far too much food, we could not help but think about people in places like Haiti who were eating dirt biscuits to stave off hunger for one more day. Dirt biscuits came up several times in our conversations that week. But it must be more than just a subject of conversation. It must translate into action. That is why our family supports the ministry of God's Littlest Angels orphanage in Petionville, Haiti. We felt compelled to put feet to our conversation.

Those of us who have been blessed by God must do something to make a difference in the lives of those who are not so blessed. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that when we help the least of these in the name of Christ, then we have served Christ Himself. This is a powerful truth to remember in a world full of inequity.

Lord, help those of us who have so much see the needs of those who have so little and respond in ways that can make a real difference. Amen.


This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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