As a child I remember being told I could not go outside the gate where we lived. It was too dangerous. I lived in a place called Bedford Stuyvesant which at the time was a pretty rough place to live.
I remember going to the store with my brother and seeing two gangs approaching each other to fight and we were in the middle. God’s providence had us right in front of our Aunt’s house where we immediately ran in and watched the fight from our window.
I remember in those early days eating eggs for supper or apple butter sandwiches.
I also remember my brother and I making fun of a commercial that had a ghetto kid being interviewed about whether he would like to go to camp or not.
The commentator would ask the child if he ever saw a cow and the child answered, “What’s a cow?”. We made fun of that adding all kinds of animals. “Did you ever see a chicken?” we would mock and then reply, What’s a chicken?
The truth was we probably never saw a chicken either except if it was on our kitchen table and that was so rare we probably forgot.
Yet the house was always clean. My mom said we always had soap and water and there was no excuse for being dirty.
I remember our four room apartment with the gas on cold stove with the side arm hot water heater. I remember the scrub board with which mom cleaned the clothes.
I remember the sheer curtains blowing in the spring breeze across the old television that my grandfather had fixed up for us.
We had a clean home and we never (as far as I can remember), missed a meal. The house was vermin free except for the occasional field mouse and my father worked nights in a factory.
The ideal life? Perhaps not , but far better than what is here in Payatas.
Switch to the Payatas scenario.
This is the land of the infamous garbage dump. Some fathers have left their families behind failing the pressure put on them to survive they leave their families to fend for themselves.
Other fathers work in the dump site picking through garbage for something to sell and sometimes finding some food in the piles of trash, that they believe is good enough to bring home to eat.
Many children develop worms.
Houses are whatever materials are found and thrown together in and haphazard way. Rain drips through the faults in the roof and the walls making mud on the dirt floor below.
Rats scurry through each shanty looking for crumbs that might have been overlooked. Parents pray for death as they send their children to scrounge for garbage or beg for money.
Those who have given up completely turn to drugs and prostitution. Oh thank God I wasn’t born in this place is all I can think.
As I think of my life now, I think how wonderful it really was. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to serve the Payatas people anyway that I can.
Switch to your home:
How about you? How is your life?
We think we have it bad all the time. Oh, I can’t support a missions program, I need help myself. I am about to lose my home or new car. I can’t afford a boat or a vacation.
Comparison is a funny thing. We always argue up and fail to look down.
Take a look down for a moment.
Do you think you might want to
help these people some how?