Sunday, March 5, 2017

$3.10 Poverty Challenge: Day 5

Day 5 of the $3.10 Poverty Challenge began in a rush. I’ve not slept well the last three nights because of cough and finally enjoyed a full 2.5 hours that led up to 7:30 in the morning, just 30 minutes before I had to leave for the prison.

Once again I found that worship with these inmates was beyond compare. Do you worship the Lord as though he is your only hope? Though I do have some amazing times of worship, I know that I don’t have the sense of desperation for God that prison inmates have.

Choose Your Tree
The sermon, Choose Your Tree, seemed also to be a relevant and unique lesson to these men. I preached/taught about Adam and Eve and their choice of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil over the tree of life (still pondering its purpose). We discussed the consequences of choosing sin over obedience. We then added a discussion of Joseph choosing the tree of life (obedience) when faced with the temptations of Potiphar’s wife. We again discussed the consequences of choosing obedience over sin. Of course we pondered how it could be that choosing right and choosing wrong could lead to the same result—suffering. We came to realize that God transcends our circumstances. Regardless of where we are or what we’ve done, God is still God, still present, still on the throne. Twelve men renewed their commitment to put Christ at the head of their lives and to choose the tree of life, praise God!

After also preaching at the staff church, the Sargent shared with me the story of one of the inmates. This mature man was the principal at a primary school. One of the parents was unable to pay school fees and so after some long time of flexibility he finally had to say pay or go. The mother then tore her clothes and screamed that he was attacking her, though he most certainly was not. Because of Potiphar’s wife and her lies, this man is now in prison. He was refused bond and the lawyers say he may spend the rest of his life there. I am absolutely humbled at being used by God to bring hope and healing to this one man. If I spent all my Poverty Challenge money to reach that prison for this one man alone, it was worth it!

Widow and Two Mites
We most often hear this story in the context of being an onlooker, but today I was the widow with two mites. Wow was this a difficult position to be in. I am mzungu, I am clean and fat, I drank a bottle of water, and I reached the prison on a boda boda. When time came to give our offering at the prison staff church, I had 0.20 cents to offer. I have been making it a practice not to carry more than my allotment for the day so that I am not artificially comforted by “just in case” money and so 0.20 cents was it. Wow did I feel a sense of shame in only having 0.20 cents to put in that offering. I should have walked to the prison, though I already planned to walk home. I should have saved my food money from yesterday. Can’t I borrow from the rest of the week’s money that I haven’t yet “earned.” Can’t I break my Poverty Challenge? I should have carried the last of the potatoes and tomatoes reserved for today and given them. What will they think of me? I felt no sense of humble contentment in giving that gift at all, which is how I imagined the widow who gave her two mites felt.

Today I began with $2.20. I spent $2.00 on transportation and 0.20 cents on my offering. Tomorrow is a new day.