"My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. You ill-treat the poor. But isn't it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? Aren't they the ones who make fun of your Lord?" James 2:5-7
So, this summer, I'll be learning a lot about this verse. I'm working for Center for Student Missions (or CSM) in Houston, which is a urban mission program in which we take adult and student groups around the city to different awesome programs that help in a variety of ways. I've only been here about a week in training, but I already feel like the city is serving me more than I am serving it.
In America, we all grow up thinking that achieving the American dream is ideal. We want to be successful, have a nice house, and raise a family. This is where my internal conflict starts. Is that really what God wants for my life? Is that really what His word commands? I have been so driven by success my whole life that anything that seems to contrast that completely boggles my mind. If I can have better faith living in the depressed 3rd ward of Houston than I can living in a house in River Oaks, should I not live a so-called "poor" lifestyle?
This is a question I will continue to work through the entire summer and it scares me A LOT. If God is really calling me to live a more modest lifestyle, I need to do that. But at the same time, there goes my dreams of nice cars, big screen TVs, and expensive furniture. I know if that really is what God is calling me to do, the turmoil I feel about not living with nice things will be far less than the joy I receive from answering God's call.
In the first 72 hours I was here, I already saw exactly what James meant in verse 5. As I sat eating my breakfast with hundreds of the Houston homeless after the Lord of the Streets church service on Sunday, I talked with Rosalynn and saw one of the strongest faiths I'd seen in a long time. There she sat, homeless on a scorching hot summer day in Houston, eating one of the first meals she'd probably had in a couple of days. As she ate, not only did she give some of her food away as soon as somebody else said they liked a certain item, but she told me of just how much joy the Lord was giving her. I don't think she stopped smiling the whole meal. She told me how she was so blessed with joy and so glad she was joyful, and not just happy. Can you say WOW? She, compared to American standards, had close to nothing, but was more joyful than probably the majority of the people living in Beverly Hills. Rosalynn served me so well by teaching me what true joy is. I hope I see her again.
Joy is not the absence of crisis, but the presence of Christ.
Lord, thank you for Rosalynn and the way she touched my life. She was such an inspiration to me. Thank you for giving us joy even when we don't deserve it.
-Crystal, CSM Houston Summer 2010 City Host
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