Throughout this week I will be posting a series of posts called, “Poverty, Stuff, & Giving”.  For some reason these issues have surfaced in my heart and mind these last several weeks and am finally putting them on here to share with you.  Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

During the summer of 2002 I traveled to Brazil for the summer.  Filipe and I were dating at the time, and one thing we both wanted to happen before we took our relationship to the next level (engagement), was for me to visit Brazil and experience his country and culture.

Up until then my international experiences consisted of going to the Bahamas on a mission trip in eight grade (yes, people in the Bahamas need Jesus too), and studying abroad for a college semester in Oxford, England. While in England I traveled to many countries throughout Europe. I guess you could say I had my fair share of traveling abroad. Plus I’m sure there’s some kinda rule that says if you go to more than five countries that don’t speak your language you’re considered a pro. Could be wrong, but I’m sure it’s in a travel book somewhere.

One thing I hadn’t experienced in any of those countries was seeing third world poverty face to face.

Sure there were people on the streets of Paris, Madrid, London, and Rome. But, in my opinion, there is a difference between someone sitting on the side of a street begging for money and children digging through trash for looking food. Not trying to minimize the need here, just saying there’s a difference.

That’s what I came face to face with that summer.

People who were hungry.
People who couldn’t find jobs.
People who lost hope.

I saw children digging through trash, families sleeping on sidewalks (including babies), adults who were illiterate, people living under cardboard boxes, and kids unable to get an education.

Seeing these things broke me. All I could think was that the main difference between us was the location of our birth. They didn’t “do” anything to deserve these conditions any more than I didn’t “do” anything to deserve mine.

Sad, torn, frustrated, and confused I wrestled over this.  We had opportunities to feed the homeless on the streets of Sao Paulo, to serve a local church for a month in Rio, and just get face to face with the reality of the Brazilian culture at large.

God taught me a lot that summer, but the biggest thing He showed me was about faithfulness.  I studied a passage of Scripture in Matthew and began reciting the words over and over, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance.” Matthew 25:29a

I began meditating on this verse and the story of the three servants . Over and over the words rang in my ear. In addition to this verse another phrase came to me- this one from a place just as spiritual- the movie Spiderman. “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

I became both challenged and convicted.

I was challenged to “use well” what I was given and convicted about how much I’d been given and the responsibility that comes with it.

Matthew 25:29 goes on to say that, “But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away.”

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing more about what we’ve been given, our stuff, and how it plays a role in all this.

But I’ll leave you with a couple of questions for today, What has God given you? Are you faithful with it?