Monday, December 19, 2011

Those Rich Poor People

Pro 13:7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

3 decades ago, I was able to take a fascinating missions trip deep into the jungles of Nayarit, Mexico. I and our little missions team were led into the remote, mountainous back country that could only be reached by train, then trail. The area was beautiful. Citrus trees were everywhere. Parrots called from other treetops. Palm trees swayed lazily in the breeze.

And then we met the people, short, happy little folks dressed in colorful garb and friendly as can be. We were introduced to Juan, the 80 something year old, shriveled up little pastor of the village. He radiated Christ. Soon, the church services would begin and I would witness things I could never have imagined.

Try to picture this service. Ladies began indiscreetly breast feeding their little ones on benches hewn from local trees. Chickens were scurrying about inside the thatched hut. We were even visited by a piglet who came in to enjoy some of the song service.

A man began strumming a homespun guitar and singing to the glory of God. He was perhaps the greatest Christian I will ever meet. Here's the deal. This brother was reached for Christ in a distant village. Since the church was planted in this particular locale, he had to walk 7 miles through the jungle to attend. He would come on Sunday morning, stay the day so he could attend the Sunday evening services and then traverse the seven miles back through jungle trails to his village. He made the same trek on Wednesdays for prayer meeting.

A person would think that to be pretty amazing, even a little far-fetched. But his dedication to the Lord and God’s house is really astounding when you find that the man is totally blind AND crippled! His feet were actually turned up-side-down AND backwards! He had made special sandals to conform to his twisted feet. He had marked the trees along the trail in the jungle by notching them with his machete so he could make his way to church. (Isn’t it strange how a little rain or a few snowflakes can keep so many of God's choice "servants" home on a Sunday morning! But I digress.)

After the soulful singing of the hymns going on concurrently in three languages, the guest preacher from our team was introduced. get this, He spoke in English, a translator then spoke the words in Spanish to the old Huichol preacher who gave the words in the Indian dialect of the people and all were blessed!

I don't suppose there were more than 25 people in that little hut, but I know that God was there just as much or more than He is in a lot of our dignified church services with padded seating, A/C and no livestock.

That afternoon, our little team took turns with an old spade digging a large hole in the ground, then mixing concrete on the ground and troweling the floor and walls of the outdoor baptistery. Before the concrete was even cured, water was added and saints were following the Lord in believer's baptism.

These were, by far, the poorest people with the least amount of worldly goods I have ever met. And yet, they were richer than Bill Gates' and Warren Buffet's combined bank accounts. And so, for these past thirty some years, I have made it a practice of getting to church, no matter what, every Lord’s day. (I will tell you of the few occasions where “God was not willing” in another blog.)

Hey, if a crippled blind man can make it seven miles through the jungle on foot twice a week, I can surely crawl out of my comfortable bed, take a warm shower, hop in my nice car and make the short drive on paved roads to the plush church and park my backside on a posh pew chair to hear the Word clearly spoken in my own language.

May we find our riches in Jesus Christ alone.

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