Take a look at this picture. My new friend Faustin makes less than $100/month and has all his life (and that includes the support we now send him every month). He lives in a two bedroom mud house with dirt floor, no electricity and none of the modern convenience that most of us in the States take for granted. And I’m not talking about microwave or dishwasher; I’m talking about a fork, knife and spoon – he doesn’t have it. Faustin mother died when he was very young; his father was shot in the genocide and he was left to raise his four brothers at the age of 14. He knows what it is like to beg for food; he knows what it is like to see his first two children die before the age of two and he knows what it is like to be the poorest of the poor.
But when I saw Faustin holding his new born baby boy (like in the picture) – I’m telling you he was content! Look at the grin on his face – that is one happy Dad! He seemed to really have everything he needed. It was the perfect example of what Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance.” I have to admit that I was surprised. I assumed that anyone that poor must be discontent.
My assumption was that poverty and discontentment always go together. That assumption led me to believe that my role as a Christian from the United States was two-fold 1) end his extreme poverty and to 2) bring him contentment. My support helped him in his battle against poverty but Faustin is a follower of Jesus and he already has contentment.
Today I remembered Mother Teresa once said, “the poverty in the United States is far worse than that in the streets of Calcutta, because it is a poverty of the soul.” In the couple hours that I spent with Faustin and his family I almost forget that they were poor. Why? I think it is because they are content. And we believe that it is impossible to be poor and still be content – but they are.
So, my role as a Christian from the United States is to help end Faustin’s extreme physical poverty and Faustin’s role as a Christian from Rwanda is to help end my “poverty of the soul” and show me how to “learn to be content in whatever circumstance.”