let’s get uncomfortable

by Kayla Raymond

“The poor will always be with you.” – Jesus

Quite frankly, I’m a little upset with Jesus about this statement. Why always? Why will the poor always be among us? One thing that has remained throughout the history of the entire world is the reality of poverty. And, I just don’t get why…

More than ever, though, do we have the technology, information, access and ability to change this fact. YET, more than ever are the rich richer than ever and the poor poorer than ever. It’s the truth, Google it if you don’t believe me!

I’m so broken by this. I have so many moments of hate and despise against the human race for this. I want to believe it is a righteous and holy anger I’m experiencing, but what if it’s not? I feel at moments it is judgmental and cynical. And, I am sorry for that, but I’m broken by it, too. So many of us are numb, oblivious and consumed while the poor go on so desperate, lonely and hungry. So many are plump full yet so many more are skin and bones.

Yesterday, I stood with a group of 8 college-aged kids from Iowa in front of a house made of tarp, sticks and tin. The woman living there is in the Starfish program at Tytoo and her and her children literally get drenched in their home every time it rains. We stood in front of the home with the hopes to “fix” it to stop them from getting wet. Rainy season in Haiti is only days away and the thought of this family sitting in a puddle of a home for the next two months is just beyond me.

Unfortunately, we were not able to help fix the house because we didn’t have the resources and truthfully it is too far-gone. They simply just need a new house.

I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record with all this talk about needs for new homes, but I don’t sleep at night because of what my eyes have seen.

Last night, I sat in a circle with this same group of people and heard lots of talk about how much “excess” there is in America. How we are so stinkin’ spoiled and have taken so much for granted. And, I hear this a lot when people come to Haiti for the first time and have their eyes opened to poverty for the first time.

Northwest Iowa sheltered me and comforted me as I grew up. Not once do I remember being exposed or taught about poverty, whether it was at church, school or in my house. I think the thought of poor people crossed my mind at moments, but never once did I digest the reality of their lives. And as a result, when I came to Haiti for the first time it ruined my life. I was heartbroken for the people but also ashamed I had gone my entire life not even being aware of the poor’s existence.  Today, I no longer am able to live comfortably knowing about the masses and masses of people suffering from the reality of poverty.

And, sometimes the scary part about writing so honestly about poverty is that it may cause some of you to become uncomfortable. How dare I make you feel uncomfortable? Shame on me. But, I think it’s time for people to roll up their sleeves and get uncomfortable. I don’t want you to feel guilty about what you have been given; guilt is just another form of sin (taught to me by a dear friend) But instead, I just want to shake up your perspective a little bit. Because the truth is, you can do more. You can give more. Your priorities can change. And, you can stop making excuses. It’s time for a little come-to-Jesus moment: people are literally falling over from starvation; others are losing their lives to preventable diseases; moms are abandoning their babies at orphanage gates and we just can’t stop keeping up with Kardashian’s.

Uhh..my heart just can’t even.

But, my heart has been set on fire to fight for the poor. And, I realize it’s maybe not the coolest thing to be passionate about. Having a fashion blog with hip clothing would be a much more acceptable thing, but I’m just so over that. I want my life’s work to be writings of redemption, bringing the poor up and out of poverty not just physically, but spiritually and with dignity. I just wish more people were willing to fight this fight, too.

And, so yes, I’m angry, but righteously so. I sit in front of these homes and listen to women plead for their lives. One woman told me yesterday, “I have no life. My children are without hope. Please, let me come and just sweep your house, so I can find money to feed them tonight.”

While only a few hundred miles away, we obsess over celebrities, name brand jeans and Frappuccino’s. Seriously.

I look back at Jesus’s statement of the poor always being with us. It’s as if he was almost content by this.

Maybe it was because he knew he was coming to save us, the poor included.

And, a few days after making this statement he would hang on the cross. He knew what was to come.

I like to think He was even a bit confident in humanity at that moment.

Jesus knew how he was about to change the course of history.

His act would be so profound; it would lead all of humanity to reach out to all people. No one would go forgotten.

His sacrifice and what he stood for would change people.

The gospel would lead people to lives of service.

The poor would be taken care of because of what happened that day on Calvary.

People, I think we have forgotten about Calvary, because here we are 2,000 years later and the poor are poorer than ever.

And, I just don’t even know where to go from here…but, I can’t stop fighting and believing in the promises of the cross. I can’t stop believing that at some point it will change. Or stop relying on the fact that the Second Coming is going to happen and on that day all the captives will be set free. On that day I will be set free.

Dear Jesus, set our hearts on fire.

Let us be consumed with a holy and righteous anger, enabling us to be the change.

{Make us do’ers. Make us selfless. Make us holy.}

Turn us away from our society of materialism and consumerism.

Turn off the social media and notifications so we can focus on YOU and on THEM. No more me, me, me.

{Make us uncomfortable, Lord.}

Open the floodgates. Make money and resources appear in unknown and mysterious ways. Lead people to give. Make a way for homes to be built. For children to stay dry.

Make a way for redemption to be written.

Lord, soften our hearts. Make us compassionate. Work miracles in our lives.

Turn our gifts into blessings. 

Mold us into all you created us to be. Let us be the change.