Last month I had the privilege to accompany Narcie and the Wesley Foundation’s trip to Nicaragua. These are always great trips! Our destination is the Center for Development in Central America in Ciudad Sandino, outside Managua. It is run by a great group of people who make up the Jubilee House Community. These trips have the perfect balance of experiencing how the best and worst live in Nicaragua; learning about the history of Nicaragua (and a bit of US history), as well as hearing the stories from people who have experienced things first hand. It can be a very eye-opening trip. To see how there are folks who live just as you or I live, then those who are surviving on less that $2 a day. To learn about how our government has been a power in Nicaraguan history for over 100 years, for better or for worse. For many of the students on this trip it was a mission trip of firsts: first mission trip to a foreign country, first time out of the USA, first plane ride! With so many students visiting Nicaragua for the first time I found myself reflecting on the first time I visited Central America.
I went to Honduras in ’96, and what I remember the most clearly is returning home. The drive from the airport and how the landscape was devoid of trash, the cleanliness of simply everything. I remember walking into my room and looking at the keyboard I had recently purchased, and becoming aware that what I spent on that one instrument was enough for about three families to live on for a year (in ’96 dollars). But what I recall the strongest, was how I couldn’t bear to open my closet. A closet full to the brim with clothes, many of which I didn’t want to wear for a litany of reasons only a sixteen year old could come up with. The realization of how blessed I was struck me like a ton of bricks.
Now school has begun anew and I’m seeing these Winthrop students for the first time since returning from Nicaragua. One remarked how she is amazed by the simple choices we have all around us – whether that be choices at the grocery store or the choice to not finish one’s meal at a restaurant, just silly choices we take for granted that others can only dream of. A few years ago one student summed up his trip with this: How can I doubt God, when these people have such faith.
Visiting Nicaragua, living and working with some truly amazing people, and hearing their stories redefines how one reads Luke 6: 20-21: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” And I’m struck by what follows in Luke 6: 24-25: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
Which side of the text do we fall within?
With all that we have, living in the most prosperous country in the world, how are we helping those who have nothing but their faith?