Redefining Poverty

03 Aug

I’ve seen some poverty in my life, right?  I’ve seen it in Costa Rica and Mexico as well as in America.  But Something I saw today shed a new light on what poverty really means.

When we were ready to stop painting for the day, Tamika, Luis, Leenie and I went on a prayer walk with pastor Mario’s wife Sheila.  We walked the dirty streets of Los Anonos, visiting people and praying for them.  Before long we came to a place where we had to climb these awful, muddy, precarious steps covered in trash and stuff, flanked by tin shacks and falling-apart houses.  Once we had gotten to the top (a little out of breath I might add) we entered a house, and I could tell instantly that the people who lived there were very, very poor.  We sat down with three young children and their mother and talked for a while.  Then I saw a man literally dragging himself up those steps to the house, and it broke my heart.  This man had raw, swollen legs with metal rods sticking out, and he couldn’t walk, and I could tell by looking at him that he was in terrible pain.  It was like something you’d see on TV, like a ‘feed the poor’ campaign or whatever, only this–it was real.  This man was the father of this family, and he had to climb those awful steps every day in the terrible condition his legs were in.  He couldn’t afford a wheelchair, but even if he could there was no way a wheelchair could make it up to his house over the rocks and mud and everything.  So it turns out that 5 months ago he was in a very bad accident (he either had a car wreck or got hit by a truck–the story got lost in translation)  and ever since, he has been in that condition, making a slow and painstaking recovery, unable to afford vitamins and medicine and doctor’s visits, barely even able to afford to feed his family.  He told us that he felt depressed, like life was no longer worth living, and that he felt that he could no longer be the father he had wanted to be.  Tears rolled down his cheeks as he admitted that he didn’t have the money to give his kids gifts and take them places.  It just broke my heart.  We prayed for him, but he says he won’t come to church until he can walk again.

So the reason I’m telling you this L O N G story is that I’d like to ask you to pray for him.  I believe his name is David, but I can’t be sure.  Please pray that he will be healed and will be able to walk again.  That he will, by the power of God, find a way to afford food AND medicine, rather than having to make a choice between them.  Most of all please pray that he and his family will come to know the unfailing love of Jesus, that Jesus will fill the void in their hearts and make life worth living again.

It’s just unbelievable to see people living like this, while in America we have everything we could want and more.  Can’t we Americans take our eyes off of ourselves long enough to realize what’s going on around us?  This is hard for me to write, because I don’t want to admit how painfully selfish I really am, but honestly, how is it possible that I’ve gone this long without realizing the way some people have to live?  Have I really been so focused on myself and making MY life better, that I haven’t even given these poor people the time of day?

This experience has changed me.  Next time I find myself wanting something, wishing I had more money or better clothes or a bigger house, I’ll remember David and his family.  I can only pray that you’ll do the same.


Posted by on August 3, 2009 in Costa Rica August 2009


3 responses to “Redefining Poverty

  1. SusanHitt

    August 4, 2009 at 02:23

    Wow Shannon! VERY powerful Blog. Reading this made me feel as if I was right there with you. How brave of this man to go out each day and try to work and provide for his family! Most certainly will pray that Edwin will have felt the touch of the Lord on him and his family from your visit and he will one day very soon feel his place is in church. We don’t have to walk on legs for the Lord….we have to come to him just as we are! Thank you for allowing the Lord to shine through you!!!!

  2. Angela Morse

    August 7, 2009 at 12:56


    You are incedible!!! To be so young and have such insight, God is with you always. Thank you for sharing such a heartwrenching story with the world. We all do need to think about the other person more and less about ourselves. As Jennifer Hayes said you “brought a grown woman to cry” at my computer alone in the dark.


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