I have had the privilege of traveling to other countries and observing the lifestyles of the people that live there. The one thing that always happens to me when I return from one of these trips is that I have a new appreciation for our country. It is a known fact that two-thirds of the people in the world live below the defined poverty level of the United States. The thing that has been astounding to me is that these people are, for the most part, happy. In their country they are not any worse off than their neighbors so their condition is not defined as poverty. Most of them measure their success in having food, clothing and shelter. If they have those three essentials, for them, life is good.
Some years ago I went to Trinidad Tobago and was able to be there long enough to get to know many of the people. I ate their food and stayed in their homes, both of which were not what I was accustomed to. I found that my stay was something that I would never forget. Everyone seemed to want to help me. It seemed that they found fulfillment in being useful. Not one of them asked me for anything; however, before I left I had given away almost everything I had taken with me including my clothes. Those people would proudly show me around their homes and villages, and I could feel their excitement for what seemed to me, to be very menial accomplishments. I do not think that any of them were experiencing self-pity or felt that they were living in poverty. It was quite the opposite; they acted like they were experiencing a blessed life.
I will be the first to admit that there are many people that are in desperate need of help for the necessities of life that they are not able to produce for themselves. My question is; how many people are in prison to their desire instead of their need? Poverty is misery and misery is experienced through many conditions like a lack of self-worth, crushed dreams, bitterness, bad relationships, etc. Could a person be surrounded with wealth and still be miserable? There is no international standard for poverty, so could the condition of misery be the common thread that defines it? Is there a cure for misery?
These and other life questions will be addressed Sunday morning as “The Gathering Place Family” meets in the Washington Junior High School Library for Bible Study at 9:30 and in the gymnasium at 10 a.m. for our Pre-Service Connection where we enjoy coffee, juice and donuts. Our Worship Service and Children’s Church then begins at 10:30. Come at 7 p.m. and be part of our Wednesday night Bible Study and Children’s Ministry on the third floor above Trends at 120 W. Court St. in Washington Court House.