Rich Man Or Poor Man?|
Bro. Kelly's burden for overseas missionary work.
Paul said that he knew how to be rich and comfortable, and he knew how to be poor and in want (Phil. 4.11-13). I too know how to be, well, not exactly rich, but I know how to be comfortable in the greatest and most prosperous nation the world's ever seen. I own my own computer consulting business, I live in one of the most well-off neighborhoods in unflooded New Orleans, I eat Japanese food at least once a week, my wife and I both have serviceable vehicles... in all, I live a comfortable life.
However, I also know how to be poor, both during my missionary travels and here at home before I fought my way into my current technical field. I've taken cold baths by the side of a gallon bucket in Haiti and eaten food from roadside carts that wasn't fit to give to a dog. I've also gone hungry, suffered grave illness and been shot at by a murderous band of political thugs while ministering there.
I must confess that I like my current lifestyle very much. I am quite comfortable playing the role of a 21st-century conservative American. There's a nagging little voice that I can't seem to get away from, though, that speaks to me while I'm watching television, or reading a book, or researching on the web, and happen to stumble across a scene or description of other lands or people groups. This little voice keeps reminding me of my other "comfort zone", the one that is happy to live among those that don't have any of the modern conveniences we take for granted in the western world. Sometimes I'll be shopping, or driving to a client's location, or doing some other random activity, and a burden for lost souls will come upon me, reducing me to tears. Truly I would be just as happy preaching the gospel in the third world than living here at home, or maybe even happier. I know that sounds completely stupid and insane to most of my readers, but it's the truth.
There is great honor in giving up one's friends, family, wealth and way of life in order to live among and serve those that are far worse off than ourselves. Jesus did it, as did Paul and most of the Apostles. Missionaries of today still forsake all to follow Jesus in some remote corner of the world. I know how they feel, at least in part, because I have been to these places, I've suffered, and I definitely feel the call of God upon my life in this regard.
I am ready to make that kind of decision and sacrifice. I very nearly moved to Haiti during the embargo, right before the US invasion in 1994, in fact. I am willing to go there, or to Central America, or to the ex-Soviet Baltic States, or anywhere else the Lord might lead me. I am also content to stay here in America, as the Lord wills, but you can be sure that I'll never forget the people in poor countries, and I doubt that that little voice will ever stop whispering to me.