…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Blessed are the poor in spirit … an example

Reading this moving and humbling story, I can’t help but be reminded by Jesus’ opening statement in the sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5:3 (NIV)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Who are the poor in spirit ?

Steve Corbett:
One Sunday I was walking with a staff member through one of Africa’s biggest slums, the massive Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The conditions were slightly inhumane. People lived in shacks constructed out of cardboard boxes. Foul smells gushed out of open ditches carrying human and animal excrement. I had a hard time keeping my balance as I continually slipped on oozy brown substances that I hoped were mud but feared were something else. Children picked through garbage dumps looking for anything of value. As we walked deeper and deeper into the slums, my sense of despair increased. This place is completely God forsaken, I thought to myself.

Then to my amazement right there among the dung, I heard the sound of a familiar hymn. There must be Western missionaries conducting an open-air service in here. I thought to myself. As we turned the corner, my eyes landed on the shack from which the music bellowed. Every Sunday, thirty slum dwellers crammed into this ten-by-twenty foot “sanctuary” to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The church was made out of cardboard boxes that have been opened up and stapled to studs. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a church, a church made up of some of the poorest people on earth.

When we arrived at the church, I was immediately asked to preach the sermon. As a good Presbyterian, I quickly jotted down some notes about the sovereignty of God and was looking forward to teaching this congregation the historic doctrines of the Reformation. But before the sermon began, the service included a time of sharing and prayer. I listened as some of the poorest people on the planet cried out to God: “Jehovah Jireh, please heal my son, as he is going blind” “Merciful Lord, please protect me when I go home today, for my husband always beats me,” “Sovereign King, please provide my children with enough food today, as they are hungry.”

As I listened to these people praying to be able to live another day, I thought about my ample salary, my life insurance policy, my health insurance policy, my two cars, my house, etc. I realized that I do not really trust in God’s sovereignty on a daily basis, as I have sufficient buffers in place to shield me from most economic shocks. I realized that when these folks pray the fourth petition of the Lord’s prayer – Give us this day our daily bread – their minds do not wander as mine so often does. I realized that while I have sufficient education and training to deliver a sermon on God’s sovereignty with no forewarning, these slum dwellers were trusting God’s sovereignty just to get them through the day. And I realized that these people had a far deeper intimacy with God than I probably will every have in my entire life.

Source:  Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts – How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor … and yourself, Moody Publishers, 2012.

In the story, .. who’s teacher? ..

One wonders, if the passages of the Bible and about God
were explained by the last, the least, the lost, the outcast, the poor,
how much more will we appreciate God’s mercy, grace and daily faithfulness ?

Luke 6:20
“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.

James wrote:
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters:

Has not God chosen those
who are poor in the eyes of the world

to be rich in faith
and to inherit the kingdom
he promised those who love him?
James 2:5 (NIV)

(it almost seems James is paraphrasing what Jesus said)

Luke 4:17-19,21 (NIV)
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.
Unrolling it, Jesus found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

In Haiti, a lady is climbing the mountains
Young men are singing on her left and right
She’s taking the Word to remote congregations
Sixty-five years she’s been taking the light

In Haiti, a pastor is walking the jungle
He’s wearing a cast-off American shirt
He’ll have his reward when his struggle is over
He brings hope to the hopeless and comforts the hurt

And you can hear it in their voices
And you can see it on their faces
When life is spilled
The cup is filled

That’s not poverty
No, that’s not poverty
That’s not poverty
No, that’s not poverty

In Haiti, believers have light on their faces
As they march through town to the riverside
They baptize believers in this celebration
Of eternal riches that they have in Christ

And you can hear it in their voices
And you can see it on their faces
When life is spilled
The cup is filled

That’s not poverty
No, that’s not poverty
That’s not poverty
No, that’s not poverty

A song by First Call from CD God is Good (1989)

Further reading:


Daily Rice | Church



This entry was posted on June 17, 2014 by in Africa, cross-culture, Daily Rice, Faith, Serving Quietly and tagged , .
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