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6 WAYS TO GET RICH (OR REALIZE THAT YOU ALREADY ARE)

Firework of dollars

There is a sweet, gray-haired 70 year old woman with a pretty smile named Elena on the corner of Aurora Blvd. and General Aguinaldo Ave. I see her nearly every day. She travels ten miles from her slum home to beg for money in the high traffic Araneta Center area. I always stop for a moment to ask how she is. We have a cordial conversation. Elena asks about my newborn baby, And how is your wife? She always looks so pretty! She asks if I am having a good day, and squinches her cheeks with delight when I reply in Tagalog. Mabuti naman po. 

She has picked a good spot in the bustling city of sixteen million people. Not that everyone is overly generous, but every coin counts, and adds up. I’d say she’s doing pretty well for herself—relatively speaking, of course, pretty well as far as the beggar’s lifestyle goes, pulling in more than a hundred Pesos a day.

She makes me think about the lifestyle that I have been blessed with. She makes me consider finances and food and entertainment and all the good pleasures of this world. She makes me feel rich.

But opulence is a funny thing, a sticky conversation full of loopholes and relativity. The rich announce that they’re poor. The poor makes you think they are rich by their amiable smiles. The middle class always want more. Beggars are always reaching for another coin. Millionaires never have enough.

So how wealthy are you? Where do you fall on the global rich list? Here are five ways to get rich, or realize that you already are.

1. INFANTS SLEEPING ON THE MANILA SIDEWALK
Walk less than fifty meters northeast from Elena’s spot on Aurora Blvd. to watch infants sleeping in makeshift cardboard boxes strewn across the sidewalk. They are usually asleep next to an older sibling, a toddler or ten year old. Traffic is heavy with personal vehicles and public jeepneys, and the humidity collects billions of smoggy molecules, stuffing the black soot inside tiny, helpless nostrils. You can’t believe how dirty the poor baby’s cheeks are. Their mother’s empty eye follows me as I walk past them with a hampered cringe in each step. I’m pretty sure she’s wondering how rich I am.

2. WA VILLAGE ON THE CHINA / MYANMAR BORDER
Take a twenty-four hour overnight sleeper bus from Kunming city to The Edge, the northern point of the Golden Triangle. Home to the former headhunting Wa tribe, the landscape is dotted with lush poppy fields and grass huts. Methamphetamine production and ethnic genocide (amongst a myriad of other tragedies) have ushered in a tidal wave of poverty. Spend the night in a Wa hut, sip some of the local rice wine jet fuel, converse with a toothless old man puffing a silver pipe, and pinch the children’s cheeks as you hand them gifts of balloons and used clothing. The wide open wet skies outside will remind you that you don’t have it that bad after all.

3. LEGLESS BEGGAR IN BIRD AND FLOWER MARKET
Set out for a shopping day in Kunming city like any decent consumer. But watch your step as you stroll under the branches that hang over the Chinese souvenir and trinket venders at the Bird and Flower Market. Fate is not so fair to every human being, you will see. I have always wondered about that man’s story—the legless man with polio shriveled arms, contorted in inhuman posture, with hollow tin can laid in front of his face. When I see him, I am shocked and saddened and pissed off. His gnarled vertebrae is a hump of bone and flesh, pathetic and hopeless. On a busy day at the market, you may not even see him until it’s almost too late as you nearly trip over him and despise yourself because of it.

4. ORPHANS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF MONROVIA
Watch from inside your vehicle as the hoard of excited children run toward you, smiling, waving, What’s your name? hugging your leg, Will you be my friend? Your car has not even come to a complete stop yet, and you are surrounded. The moment your foot steps on the Liberian soil, you are engulfed in a swarm of loveably curious little children. Some are late in their teen years. Others are toddlers. The sun beats down on you as the African temperature soars. A five year old boy named James holds your hand as he looks up at you with those big, black eyes. He has seen war. He has felt loss. His parents are gone. His eyes are more articulate than he himself, and they tell a story of hope and longing. Suddenly your first world problems seem more trivial than ever.

5. YAO VILLAGE ON THE CHINA / VIETNAM BORDER
Look to your right, south toward the Mekong River, as the swooping valley bursts with greens and yellows. Banana and pineapple plantations as far as the eye can see, and the smoke of a thousand villages rise in the dusky purple haze. The Yao tribe is one of the poorest of the poor people groups in Southeast Asia. Tonight you are sitting on an unnaturally short stool, crouching over a splintery wooden table laden with boiled cat, leafy water spinach, and raw grub worms. Your stomach churns as you scan the delectable delicacies with worry in your eyes. But you are an honored guest, and they are serving you the best that they can manage. You squeeze your chopsticks awkwardly, pinch a glob of bone and flesh, and chew slowly, savoring every unique flavor as your host scrutinizes with innocuous eyes.

6. THE MIRROR
Take a moment to pause and reflect. Linger a little longer than usual in front of the mirror. Inspect your jeans. Scrutinize your shirt. Examine your shoes. Survey your stuff behind you in the room, your electronic devices, your gadgets, appliances, furniture, light fixtures, wall paint. Perhaps a sudden epiphany will shock you with a thought like, Wow, I am not as poor as I thought. Yes, there are bills and obligations, and it always feels like you wallet is filled with more receipts than cash. But that may simply be because you only use plastic! Just a moment more. Linger there in front of the mirror a little longer. Are you poor or rich? Are you well off or just getting by or keeping up with the Jones’s? If you are reading this, the reality is, you are most likely in the the top ten percent of the world’s rich.

Confirm how rich you are on the Global Rich List.

I’m sorry if this blog was deceiving, and you haven’t walked away with newfound wealth or secret steps to becoming rich. But I hope that you realize how blessed and well off you truly are. Now, why not find a cause to give toward.

To whom much is given, much will be required. 

Perhaps it’s time to become more intentional with how you use your wealth for the benefit of both yourself and others.

hut

man

MVI_6105

soup

2012 IN REVIEW

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I’m pretty happy with it. I am inspired to finish my book in 2013—once I awake from zombie mode because of the recent birth of my baby girl! Yes, there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on around the Joannes household right now, but there are glimpses of deep inspiration as well. I hope to draw on that inspiration to create a book that satisfies your craving for unique missionary stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Chances Are, You Don’t Care

Original post at davidjoannes.com

 

toothy
Photo by Jacob Smith

I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to be honest: the odds are, mathematically, stacked against you.

THE 10/40 WINDOW

  • The 10/40 Window is home to 6,921 unreached people groups. (Joshua Project)
  • 2.82 billion people live in the 10/40 Window.
  • 82% of the world’s poorest of the poor live in the 10/40 Window. (SGWM)
  • Nearly 40% of the world’s population live on less than $1.40 per day in the 10/40 Window.
  • Although 2.8 billion of these people live within the 10/40 Window, only 2.4% of all missionaries work among them.

MONEY AND MISSIONS

  • Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
  • Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income) That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
  • Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind. That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
  • Money that goes toward the reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
  • Money that goes toward unreached peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “missions”). That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
  • The $310 million (going toward unreached people groups) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. For every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached. (The Traveling Team, Money and Missions)

Excitement and empathy are not enough. Compassion must be put into motion.
It’s empathy with wheels. It’s care with commitment.
Like 1040 Hub says, “It’s where passion and action meet.”

One of my Facebook friends just commented on my status the other day. “I love to see all the neat stuff you’re doing over there on the weird side of the planet!”

I Liked that comment.

It struck me.
I got it.
It was a little more clear to me.

“Your experiences determine what you see,” Craig Groeschel says, and so I write about my weird side of the planet.

Tiger named himself in English. His Chinese name will go unmentioned for security reasons. The first time met him was at The Hub, the Within Reach Global student center where we are reaching out to college kids in the Southwest part of the country.

“There’s no way I will ever become a Christian,” he told me. “I am a communist party member. I can’t believe in God.”

“That’s totally up to you,” I replied.

I’ve found that the best way to share the gospel is to let people make their own decisions instead of force feeding them Jesus on a spoon, or in Tiger’s case, chopsticks. I knew God had his radar on him anyway, and it was only a matter of time before he embraced the life of Christ. “Poor guy! He can’t escape the power of the gospel even if he tried!” I thought to myself.

But Tiger kept coming to The Hub, engaging in relevant conversations about life, God and culture. He was there every Thursday, tricking himself into thinking that he could run from reality of a powerfully good God.

3 weeks after I met him, I asked, “So Tiger, do you believe in God yet?”

“I don’t believe in God, but I trust him.” he told me. “I don’t think he exists, but I feel him,” he continued in self defeating rhetoric. “I am not a Christian, but sometimes I pray to God.”

“I think you’re closer to becoming a Christian than you realize,” I told him with a roguish smile.

A few more weeks passed. Tiger began to realize God’s radar was zoning in on him. We began to see him transforming. “Yep, only a matter of time,” I thought.

After 10 months of sharing life with him, Tiger told us he wanted to become a Christian.

After The Hub English Corner, we found a quiet place in the back room, and prayed together. The atheist’s journey would end that night. A new young man was formed on the 22nd floor of our student center.

Soon after, he began telling his friends about God. He would lead discussions about how Jesus transformed his life. Chinese students listened amazed and confused at his life change.

A few weeks later, we baptized him in a lake at the foot of a thousand year old city.

An atheist turned evangelist. You’ve read stories of that before in Acts, and the 29th chapter is still being penned.

Barry, from the Yi tribe, had a similar story.

Lorna was talking to a group of 11 girls under the shadow of an ancient pagoda as the sunset turned pink and orange on the far horizon of a town 3 hours west of The Hub student center. The girls listened intently, but Barry kept interrupting her.

“I don’t believe in God! Let’s change the subject.” After 20 minutes of his constant interruptions, Lorna finally got fed up. “Why don’t you just shut up and listen!” she said boldly.

The lights clicked on.
A spiritual moment.
Something broke.

Barry gave his life to Christ that night, and couldn’t explain what happened, except that “I feel God’s presence right now,” he said.

Within a month he had led 21 of his friends to the Lord!

These are the stories of the 10/40 Window, where religion is suppressed, or worse, illegal.

But the forward progression of God’s life transforming movement can’t be bottled.

Brother Fu, who got saved after being set free from writhing on his dusty village floor in demon possession, agrees.

And Brother Li, who drunk punched our Within Reach Global local missionary after he shared the gospel in his village. He got saved 10 months later, attended Bible school and literacy training, and is now a missionary to his own people group.

  • All missionaries in the world (Catholic, Protestant, etc.)    419,500 foreign missionaries
  • All missionaries in the reached world    316,500 foreign missionaries (75.4%)
  • All missionaries in the unevangelized world    103,000 foreign missionaries (24.6%)
  • All missionaries in the unreached world    10,200 foreign missionaries (2.4%)
  • Full time Christian workers in the world    5.5 million workers
  • All Christian workers in the reached world    4.19 million local workers (75.9%)
  • All Christian workers in the unevangelized world    1.3 million local workers (23.7%)
  • All Christian workers in the unreached world    20,500 local workers (0.37%)
  • The ratio of unreached people group workers to total unreached world is: 1 missionary for every 278,431 people
  • There are 95,000 Evangelical Christians for every one unreached people group. (The Traveling Team, Missionaries and Workers)

in yao village
Photo by Jacob Smith

I have circuited most of Southwest China. I have eaten dog and cat and other, shall we say, “unique” delicacies. Not necessarily because I love the pungent taste of puppy and kitten so much. Not because a bowlfull of live grub worms is particularly delectable either. It’s because when you spend the night in the poorest of the poor tribal village, and they serve you the best they’ve got, it’s hard to turn down a meal and make your impoverished host lose face.

“Eat whatever is set before you.” I remember Jesus’s command, pull up my sleeves, and dig in.

They have never heard the name of Jesus. I know because when I ask, they question if “Jesus” is a brand of soap, or a medicine they’ve never heard of.

The reality of their status as an unreached people group gets under my skin. Or should I say, it really pisses me off. It makes me jealous.

“Why should anyone hear the gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?”
~C.T. studd

I have traveled to too many unreached people groups to number. And after all these experiences, it is clear to me that God is still jealous for them to have a witness of the gospel.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, as a testimony to every nation, and then the end will come.”
~Matthew 24:14

Hasn’t God put a stipulation upon himself, that until every tribe, people, and linguistic ethnic group has had the opportunity to hear the message of salvation, he cannot return?

I think yes.

And so, I pray that the things that break the heart of God would in the very least, prick mine as well.

I am a statistic just like you. But I pray that the things revolving around our personal experience will not distract us from God’s overall plan of redemption, namely, that every people group on earth has the chance to hear about him.

I mean, seriously, in the 21st century, and 2 billion people have never heard of Jesus? That’s just not fair.

In 1976, there were an estimated 17,000 unreached people groups. As of 2012, there were only estimated 6,921 unreached peoples. The statistics are changing because Christians are beginning to see the bigger picture. (Joshua Project)

I know of only one way of changing the mathematical chance that I don’t care: it’s simply to care.

Care with commitment. For some that means with your wallet. For others it means with your hands and feet.

“In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been––villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.”
~Robert Moffat, 1795-1883, missionary to Africa, father in law of David Livingstone

Put wheels on your empathy.
Be a voice for the voiceless.

The 10/40 Window will not be home to unreached people groups forever, because we’re going to get up and do something about it.

Get involved with reaching unreached people groups at 1040 Hub.

bong and shoed

LETTERS TO LORNA FROM LIBERIA, HOUR:120

Patrick James is a 23 year old professional Liberian soccer player in Monrovia. He has been invited to five different countries by five clubs after they heard about his talent. He is a star in his own nation, but has never had the cash to put up front for a plane ticket to get to international try outs. It costs $1,800 for airfare. “So, if you’re walking down the street in Monrovia, do people recognize you?” I ask him. “Of course!” He smiles and slaps my back in the shoe store. We’re buying 50 pairs of shoes for orphans. Not only is he a professional soccer player, he is a part time minister at Jubilee Church, and an inspiration to young Liberian men.

There is a sudden commotion outside as ten trucks drive by with bullhorns and blaring speakers. “That’s the opposition party. Tubman’s supporters,” Patrick says. We sit down on white plastic chairs as the men outside shout their support or opposition. Near the equator it’s hot. The shoe store is muggy, so we sit across from a single electric fan pointed in our direction.

“You know what we should do, my man?” (I learned a couple hours ago that “my man” is the local way of saying “bro”, so I put my cultural skills to use immediately.) “We should shoot a video, like a short commercial of you introducing yourself and your skills. Maybe that way we can get it into the hands of soccer managers. It’s the power of social media and the Internet!” But Patrick James isn’t really into the virtual lifestyle. “That’s why I can help you,” I reassure him. “Why don’t you come over to the hotel tomorrow morning and I will shoot a video of you.” He says he’ll be there, and tells me that he has soccer practice on Monday. I should come and shoot video of him in action. “The stadium in Monrovia can hold thirty thousand people.”

I am waiting for Patrick and his professional soccer player friend, Emmanuel, in the lobby at Royal Hotel. Before we go to Jubilee, we’ll get their story on camera. I’m not trying to make a star shine. I’m just trying to showing a shining star to the world.