In reading the Psalms this morning (108-113), a couple themes kept arising from the pages and one of those is the continuing reference to the ways in which God will redeem and rescue the poor and needy on this earth.
Ps. 109:30-31 "With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him."
Ps. 113:5-7 "Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap."
As I finished reading these Psalms and opened my browser to come jot down some thoughts on this blog, I was greeted with an additional reminder of realities of those who are poor and in need today in our world. The spotlight for Operation World today is Mozambique, one of the poorest nations on earth. Operation World is a website that provides demographical data and prayer requests for a different nation each day.
The Son of God, who's prayers and heart truly are reflected in the Psalms (as I am learning through reading Bonhoeffer), said that the "Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." (Luke 4:18) And what good news it is! News that the troubles of this life are not to great to be overcome. That Jesus offers redemption and forgiveness and peace and hope to all.
I am reminded of a story I once heard from a lady who spent some time doing missions work in Rwanda. She was ministering to a woman in a village who had very little. Her daughter had just died of AIDS and besides the clothes on her back, she had only two possessions a tiny hut and a bucket to carry water in. One day that bucket was stolen and the rains were beating down on her hut. The winds had torn away one wall of her little hut and she sat inside cradling her grandaughter, who was facing a life withouth either of her parents. The missionary lady was talking with her about her life back in America and she asked the Rwandan woman, "If I could tell my friends back in America something, what would you want me to tell them?" She responded simply, "Tell them all that I really need is Jesus."
Stories like that sometimes sound far fetched for us in America who have so much, but it is the truth. And the point is not to paint a picture of all of life in Africa. I lived there for a little while and I know how much many of them don't want westerners to see only the poverty of that great continent. But the truth remains. Poverty and AIDS are rampant and I don't want to ignore it. UNICEF recently estimated that by 2010, over 15 million African children will have one or more parents who have died of AIDS.