Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Real Poverty

May 16, 2017

"We're back in the good ol' USA!" I was shaking my head as I joined our team of short-term missionaries where they were waiting for the connecting flight to Buffalo. We had just arrived from Veradero in Cuba, having spent the past week in the mountains visiting churches, encouraging the people, hiking the most difficult trails I have ever been on, and learning as much as we could preparatory to future trips. Conditions were pretty primitive, luxuries were nonexistent, but our hosts were always gracious and generous with what little they had.

My first stop at the airport was Starbucks; as close to the delicious Cuban coffee as I could get. There wasn't much of a line, but it did take us in a short loop from front to back and back up front to the counter where they took my order. About ten feet inside the store was a handwritten sign apologizing for their app being down. I paid for my coffee and headed to a pizza shop across the walkway.

As I waited for my order, a woman came up to the counter next to me, with a look of fury in her eyes. "I can't believe they didn't have their sign right up front! I had to walk into the store before learning their app was down, so I told them off! That was terrible; don't you agree?" She could have been a pretty woman, but for the ugliness of soul that spilled out all over the place like a leaky garbage bag.

"It is what it is," I countered, which didn't mollify her one bit. It's a good thing she turned and stormed away right then, because I was a hair's breadth from telling her off. Maybe she had had a bad day; I hope that was it. But coming from a place where people had almost nothing, the contrast of material abundance and spiritual poverty was stark.

I am grateful tonight for the experiences we had in Cuba, for the grace that was continually extended to us, and for the reminder that even in the midst of abundance, there is a poverty far more destructive than economic poverty. It is to that poverty we have been sent to declare the riches of Christ. May I be granted wisdom, grace, and courage to do so faithfully.

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