I wrote this a few years ago on my old blog. I’m reposting it today because I’ve been spending time on a couple of golf courses this week with super-blogger Sean Ogle. We played golf Wednesday and we attended the Masters golf tournament yesterday. Please enjoy this.
The Discovery Channel is one of my favorite TV destinations. I was watching Man vs. Wild the other night and Bear Grylls was out in the middle of nowhere starving again. He connected with a Namibian tribe in the desert and they spent eight hours digging a porcupine out of a burrow so the tribe could eat. One comment that he made during the show was that it was normal and necessary for the tribesmen to do this in order to survive.
Can you imagine living in the desert and digging eight feet into the earth all day so that you could eat porcupine for supper?
I recently visited Water Missions International in Charleston, SC. It’s an incredible ministry that provides water purification systems for those in need of clean drinking water. Over one billion people – yes, that’s a b in front of illion – do not have access to clean drinking water. More than two billion do not have adequate sanitation. Every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness. Four children a minute. When you stop and digest that fact, it numbs you.
I’ve witnessed poverty around the world. I’ve spent two months in Africa and worked with Tanzanians who wore the same clothes every day. The women walked out of the village into the bush everyday to gather firewood and bring it back balanced on their heads. A chicken and a Coca-Cola for supper was a unique luxury.
I’ve seen filthy Aborigines in Western Australia who worked in gold mines for a measly wage while the owners of the mines sold the fruit of the labor for hundreds of dollars per ounce. I’ve stayed in a modest home in Guatemala where the “shower” was freezing cold water from a half-inch PVC pipe. I’ve seen the poverty in Nicaraguan refugee camps in Costa Rica and Palestinian refugee camps in Israel. The world is so much different than most Americans know.
This spring in my American hometown the temperature reached the high 80’s. We were getting a little stuffy in the house so I went through the annual ritual of waiting until the heat was unbearable before turning on the air-conditioner. The heat won and now I am comfortable. Everyday I’ve taken a hot shower in one of our two bathrooms. Our kitchen pantry is full. I don’t have to dig for a porcupine for supper. I just dig in my fat wallet for a credit card to pay for almost anything I need or even want.
We Americans are spoiled rotten. Everyday is a vacation for us. The sad truth is that we are so accustomed to our rich lifestyle that we don’t realize how easy our lives have become. A typical day for me would be a monumental day for many world citizens. To wake up in an air conditioned house, pop a pastry in the microwave, pour fresh milk from a refrigerator, and take a hot shower would be almost too much for some people to comprehend.
A line in National Geographic Adventure magazine caught my attention recently. “Our culture of plenty keeps us permanently in a vacation state of mind” (The Permanent Vacation by Laurence Gonzales, June/July 2008, pp. 28-31).
It’s true. For most of America, we are on vacation everyday. We have clothes in our closets, food in our fridge, and a sturdy roof over our heads. We don’t look over our shoulders for predators and we do not have to constantly stoke a fire for warmth.
Am I writing this to convict you? No, it’s not my job to convict you. God does that. I don’t want you to feel guilty for living in a great country but I do want you to feel blessed and to pass that blessing along. How? That’s between you and God. Maybe you need to sponsor a child in an impoverished nation or help build a water purification system that will provide clean drinking water for an entire village. Perhaps you could help fight illiteracy or join the battle against HIV/AIDS. What if you helped establish a church in a rural community that had no church? What if you gave a week of your vacation away to share the love of Jesus with kids using a few puppets? The needs and avenues are endless.
I guess my point is this: You are blessed. Pass it on!
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