Monday, September 28, 2009

The Poor Among Us

Our house, for the last two weeks, has been full of phone calls, emails, and endless brainstorming about how we can get corn here to this valley for the least amount of money and as quickly as possible. We have been told that we need to move quickly because the corn that is available is being bought rapidly by speculators and companies in Mexico. These are things that the Ficker men (Craig included) are particulary good at.

We have thought and prayed long and hard about how to involve the community - especially the local church - in this project. We have asked for help from our good friends Oralia and Sebastian in San Andres. They are the directors of the orphanage there and have a feeding program as well which is being stretched to the breaking point. We will host pastors of the local churches to a lunch on Friday to enlist their help as well. Our thoughts right now are to ask for donations of rice, beans, oatmeal, atol and oil from the churches as well as their help in locating families who are at risk. It is a different way of thinking for most here who are used to receiving and not so much in giving. Pray with us that their hearts will be open to helping...that they will understand that giving is so much more blessed than receiving!

My prayer for many years has been to have a deeper understanding of the man Christ Jesus - this man who died for me; this man who is fully God - in whom I put all of my trust. I have come to realize something profound...that He was (and is - because He never changes) Jewish. And if I want to understand Him, I need to understand Him in His Jewishness. Now, I know very little about the Jewish faith and I do not desire to live under endless laws about how to wash my pots and pans but I do want to know what it is that moved Him; how did He think? So I have begun to study...and what I am finding has opened my eyes to so many things that I have never understood. For example, one of my favorite scriptures is John 12:1-3 where Mary, in deepest worship anoints Jesus' feet with costly perfume. I have meditated long on that and wished that I could have been Mary. But as I read the next few verses, I find Jesus saying, "you will always have the poor among you..." It has always confused me and because I now find myself living among the very poor, I want to understand why He said that. Couldn't He in all of His power, fix that? And then I read in Deuteronomy as Moses gives final instructions to the Israelites as they prepare to enter the Promised Land about the tithes that they are to give. My understanding of the tithe has always been 10% of our income to the church but now I see that it is so much more. God instructed the Jewish farmers to leave grain at the edge of their fields so that the poor could harvest it every season. They would leave 1/50th of their crop, as well as "leket"or the leaving of dropped stalks for the poor. In addition, Moses commanded that 10% of the crop every third and sixth year of the seven year cycle was to be given to the poor. Now that is a lot of rules and regulations, but the heart of the law behind all of that is that the poor are provided for; that although they are poor, they are not to be hungry; that it is our responsibility to provide for the poor. And in this agricultural culture, that is what we hope to express to the church - the body of believers here. Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow give these farmers a vision of how God designed provision for the poor? And even greater, that as we here begin to live by His rules, we would reap the benefit of His blessing - "All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock - the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out." Deuteronomy 28:2-6. Would you pray that we will be able to express our hearts to these pastors as they gather here Friday? Would you pray that above all else, that the Name of the Lord will be honored in this project?

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