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Rich in Spirit

Luke 6:20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

New life was breathed into this scripture as I and the rest of the mission team walked the dirt roads of a village/town community outside of Managua, Nicaragua. A couple who started a missionary ministry called Lifelink International established a school for children in preschool to third grade in this community. I have heard about poverty in developing countries and have seen all kinds of images in the media for most of my life, only now it was real. The hot sun beamed down as I gazed at homes that were the size of a large bedroom that housed entire families. My heart became sensitive as I saw young mothers holding babies in places that here in this country we would consider filthy. Normally, I would expect people to frown and not be inviting or accepting to outsiders in these types of conditions. However, most of the people we encountered smiled and were very courteous. A couple of families even invited us into their homes, completely void of any shame. This was almost mind-boggling to me because I would likely be embarrassed to live in those types of conditions and wouldn’t want anyone I didn’t know personally in my space. But then I realized that this was mainly because I have grown up in a “developed nation” where everything is convenient and the standard of living is much higher. In this country, even those who live in what is considered to be poverty would be filthy rich compared to the large majority of people living in Nicaragua. In the U.S., we have so many options and opportunities. We can compare our situations to many others from all walks of life socioeconomically. In countries like Nicaragua, the people don’t really have the concept of poverty because it is simply their way of life. It is the norm and they don’t have much in which to compare their situations. They are only poor from a materialistic perspective, but they are filthy rich in spirit.

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My heart went out to the people as I toured their homes. I walked on their dirt floors and gazed up at the tin roofs. I marveled at the outside cement holes that served as the toilets and the make-shift outside stalls with garden hoses to provide the water for showering or washing up. The beds were about equivalent to the ones that are in jails and prisons. Some of them even had cardboard stacked up in place of where a thin mattress would normally be. There were some overhead power lines that these homes would tap off of to provide electricity for their outdated TVs and small stoves. As I walked around one of the homes, I sweated like a pig because there was obviously no air conditioning and it had to have been almost one hundred degrees inside. The lady of the home just smiled and held her newborn baby. She smiled just like all the precious little faces at the school did. These little ones do not know the concept of poverty and are able to smile and laugh in the midst of situations that would drive most of us into depression, crime and a victim mentality. These resilient kids anticipate each day of school as an adventure and express a genuine excitement. Amazing how people living in what is considered extreme poverty can smile and love life, yet those of us who seemingly have everything will complain over a minute form of adversity. So as my heart went out to them, maybe their hearts should have went out to me… They have more faith than I do yet they live in conditions that would make me question the God I believe in. Wow… One of the highlights for me as we walked through the town was playing with some little boys who were chasing these gigantic cockroaches in the road. In this country that would be considered nasty. In this country our kids need electronic devices to grab their attention instead of doing things like chasing giant bugs lol.

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The average Nicaraguan makes approximately the equivalent of $2 per day. Another statistic I heard my pastor mention one time during one of his sermons that was people who make $50,000 or more per year are in the top 1% wealthiest in the entire world. Individuals making $25,000 per year are in the top 10% in the world. As startling as these statistics might be, for most us in this country they don’t hold that much weight. Our quality of life is judged by whether or not we can afford an I-Phone or I-Pad. So spiritually speaking, I can see why Christians in other nations have more testimonies about miracles and supernatural occurrences. God is all they have. They don’t have technology and money to get the glory instead of the Lord. Without all of the distractions they are able to enjoy more deeper and intimate relationships with God. They are able to witness His power at work in their lives and those around them on a constant basis, in a more tangible way. They are RICH in spirit. Spiritually, it is almost like they have an advantage over us because they are more able to give Him unhindered praise. I’m not saying this necessarily for the sake of comparison; I’m simply trying to show us how convenience and materialism can keep us from really experiencing the Kingdom of God in a much greater way. They can also hinder our true reverence of Him, which again will keep us from seeing the miracles of each day. What I think is really sad is that the fact that generally speaking, Christians who live in developing countries have way more faith and belief than us in North America. While I agree that people in developing countries may need our resources and more opportunities, they don’t need to become like us. They may be “last” for now, but they will be FIRST in the next life.

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Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Spirituality

 

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Digging Deeper

The sun showed no mercy as its heat and rays beamed down upon my bald head. Little did I know, I would eventually get sunburned and the skin on top of my head would start peeling the following week. My muscles were getting a heck of a lot more workout than my typical routine when I go to the gym, and I was sweating profusely to the point where I looked like I had jumped into a swimming pool. I raised the ground tiller and drove it into the grassy ground as a part of the process for laying the foundation for a new building that was being built on the school campus. This was my first mission trip and I was literally being baked by the ninety-something degree Nicaraguan heat, even though it was technically the winter season. Go figure lol. Over and over again I would use the tool to break up the ground so that a teammate could dig the ditch deeper. Granted, this was for a more than noble cause, but I was totally unprepared for MANUAL LABOR of this magnitude.

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However, one thing that I was somewhat prepared for is when the Lord began to speak to me. Ever since I committed my life to Christ, my experiences have usually been that the Father speaks whenever He feels like it, and it usually is not at convenient times. I have discovered that He likes to catch me off-guard and really get my attention. Well, on this dreadfully hot day that is exactly what happened.

As I tilled the ground and the ditch got a little deeper by the hour, the Lord began to speak to me about going deeper in my understanding of Him and His Word. It soon became even more clear to me that He was speaking about a deeper relationship with Him. As a result, the following scripture came to mind:

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (NKJV)

I believe that the word “diligently” is not their by happenstance. We must chase after Him if we really want a deeper connection with Him and if we desire to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. So as I drove the tool into the hard ground and dirt was shoveled out, the Holy Spirit showed me that the act of digging the ditches represented what it meant to diligently seek Him. The ground represents our hearts. As we go deeper in Him, our hearts have to be softened more and more so that we can be transformed into the person He always meant for us to be. The tilling of ground can represent so many different things, whether it is trials and tribulations or the arduous process of dying to self. It is like the willingness to alter our very lives and be purposefully inconvenienced because we desire to know Him more than anything else. Digging deeper into the ground and encountering the roots and rocks is just like going against the grain of society. It is the willingness to do what is unpopular and/or uncommon. This is the narrow road. The path that requires back-breaking faith on our part to let go of our lives so that we can discover the life He intended for us. This is often a hard thing to do.

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When we go deeper and get more intimate with the Father, He will begin to reveal His mysteries to us. I actually had a cool manifestation of this in the natural as we dug those ditches. The deeper we went; the more grub worms began to be unveiled.

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We even found a toad that had burrowed itself deep in the ground, probably for the purpose of shielding itself from the sun. The point is that we uncovered some things we were not aware were there. The same holds true when we consider our own lives. As we get closer and deeper with the Father, He will show us things about our past and reveal our “blind spots” we need to address. He will also deepen our understanding of His Word and solidify our foundation in Him so that we are not moved when “life happens.” The foundation for this particular building had to go to a certain depth because the building was being built to stand its ground during earthquakes. Do you see the connection? (Smile)

Luke 6:48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. (NKJV)

So despite the back-breaking labor, my skin being darkened a couple of shades and getting my bald head sunburned, the experience was extremely rewarding and life-changing. I have so much more to write about even though this mission trip was only a week.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Spirituality

 

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