This week our team had the opportunity to work closely with a church called Every Nation. Their primary focus is on discipling others and planting churches throughout the world. We happened to arrive the day before they started their “missions week”, which could not have been better timing.
Yesterday, they set up a poverty simulation to help people to better understand what it is like in other parts of South Africa and the world. They split everyone up into little families. Each family had to make paper bags out of newspapers to try and sell them for enough money for food, rent and health care for each week. Some families had disabilities or drug addictions which affected the number of people who could work. Throughout the simulation, if a family was unable to make the necessary money each week, they would be evicted, family members would get sick and die, and some members would be either forced or willfully put into human trafficking.
This simulation opened our eyes to the reality of people who live in poverty.
We saw the cycle of poverty and how it is so hopeless. When missionaries came to the house, they only preached at us and did not offer to help the family with the needs they had. We were asked the question, “Was the gospel relevant to your family?” And if not, “How can the gospel become relevant to them?”
These questions really impacted our team into how we can really bring not only spiritual help to people, but also meet their physical needs.
So many times we think that we are being compassionate towards others by sharing the gospel with them, but many times people do not care to hear because they need other needs met first.
True compassion is when you are willing to put yourselves in their shoes. Are we willing to suffer WITH them? This “simulation” helped us have a new appreciation for understanding where people come from and not be quick to judge them for their actions. The saying is so true, “You really don’t know someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.”