Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hope Lives - Week 1 - Guest Post by Juli Jarvis

Juli Jarvis has been an advocate for Compassion since 1994. She loves speaking for Compassion and hosts several Compassion Sundays each year. In the past 17 years, her efforts have resulted in more than 550 sponsorships. Juli has had the privilege of traveling to see the work of Compassion in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Thailand and the Philippines. Juli writes at Sheep Droppings.

The first weekly theme of Hope Lives is “The Poverty of the Heart.”  I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  What does it mean to be in poverty?  We usually think of it as a lack of resources, but Compassion International teaches us that it is much more – it is a lack of choices; it’s about not reaching your full potential in Christ. 

So what does it mean to have “Poverty of the Heart?”  I’ve been studying about the Israelites in the wilderness, and how God provided Bread from Heaven, manna.  God said an interesting thing to Moses: 
“I am Yahweh.  I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but I did not reveal My name Yahweh to them.”  (Ex. 6:2-3)

But God did reveal the name of Yahweh to the Patriarchs (“I Am that I Am,” usually translated “LORD”).  So what did He mean when He said “I did not reveal My name Yahweh to them?“  I think it meant that although they knew His name, they did not know Him as their deliverer yet.  The Israelites would not experience God in this way until Moses led them out of slavery, out of bondage.  They needed to experience His deliverance, and it was time for this new revelation of God’s character.

There is an experiencing of God that is far greater than just knowing about Him.  In her study, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore talks about knowing God’s Word in a deeper way than just reading it:
“Much of the body of Christ exists on very little of the actual Word of God.  Secondly, many of those who get a steady diet of the Word of God don’t deliberately receive it (by applying it) through and through…we say the Word of God is food for our souls, but do we give the Holy Spirit freedom and authority to use it to increasingly transform our entire personalities?”  (Study Guide, pg. 83)

So spiritual poverty, or “Poverty of the Heart,” might be not getting enough food, not getting enough of God’s Word, and not having choices, or reaching your full potential spiritually.  Not experiencing God personally.

I was touched deeply by Amber’s story about the girls imprisoned by prostitution on page 32: 
“Help me.  I’m being held as a prisoner, forced to be a prostitute.  Me and four other women are kept locked in a room.  They force us to prostitute, and they won’t let us out.”  
More shocking was Amber’s reaction, which (unfortunately) echoes all of our thoughts at times: 
“Overwhelmed and confused, I shut my mind.  I chose not to believe this tall tale.  I did nothing.  I moved on.”  (pg. 33) 
Are we imprisoned in walls of disbelief, apathy and blindness?  Do we shut our minds off from the needs and oppressions of the poor?  Do we ignore precious lives that have a wealth of potential, if given the chance?  Children like Deborah -- “A diamond God crafted to catch and reflect his light just so, but now kicked in the dirt, muddied, unrecognized, and abandoned.”  (pg. 12) 

My first Compassion sponsor tour was to Haiti to meet a young man I’d sponsored since he was little.  I went there expecting to share my wealth of resources, wealth of spiritual knowledge and wealth of experience with God.  But I left feeling impoverished and poor; they were the ones that were rich, spiritually rich.  They were experiencing God in great hardship, and finding Him to be sufficient.

I’ll never forget sitting outside one of the churches with the Pastor, Project Director, teachers, community leaders and translators.   I leaned over to one of the translators and quietly asked for the name of the Pastor so I could be praying for him.  In an instant, all conversation stopped and each of the Haitians said, “Give her my name, write it down, please pray for me too.”  I saw desperation in their faces, a different kind of desperation, a spiritual one.  They desperately believed in prayer and trusted Him, and felt so strongly about it that they would interrupt all other conversation just to be sure I had their names on my prayer list.  I was really touched by that and their names and character come often to my mind to this day.  I will never forget this great spiritual richness of heart!  
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