Why do they do it?

I received a letter from a friend recently.  This man, who retired wealthy, has decided to give up a “Western” comfortable lifestyle and live in West Africa.  He lives in a communal building, sharing a room with two other men.  Their bath consists of a clogged sink, a toilet that flushes maybe one time in 10 because of “city sewer issues”.   The shower has no drain, only a hole leading to the outside, but it works–cold water only.  Rats live under the bed, and food often causes dysentery.  He has lost so much weight nothing fits.  Yet, he is so happy.  He is also well past retirement age.

Why does he do it?  He has sold out to Jesus Christ.  He identifies with the poor as Jesus did, and wants to live among them, sharing the life they live.  He knows for him it was a choice.  They have no choice.  He wants to share the message of God’s love with the poorest of the poor.  And he is able to actually help the poor.  He has a wide variety of skills and a lot of knowledge, and he has helped by starting many projects needing his “know how.”  He doesn’t know how long he will be able to do this, but he takes it a day at a time and lives each day on the “gift of grace.”

I actually know dozens of people who live like this man:  North Americans who live in conditions of hardship to try to make life better for the poor, and to give them hope.  You don’t see these people on the news.  They work quietly, and maybe its for the best, as it would be horrible if they were singled out for acts of terrorism.  As Christians, they work humbly and equally with Christians, Muslims and those who practice ancient religions or no religion.  They would be a goldmine of knowledge on how to get diverse groups to work together.

Why do they do what they do?  In many ways and many words, they all say the same thing.  The love of Jesus changed their hearts and changed their lives.  One man said to me: “When you know about Jesus, admiration for him makes you want to change your life.  When you know Jesus heart to heart, He changes your life and you can never be the same.”  Someone else said, “Jesus puts in so much love it has to come out.”

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