Some people have said that the Pine Ridge reservation is the poorest county in the US. I don‚Äôt know if they just said that because it is poor there or if they had concrete data, but once you visit there, you will hope that it is true-that no one else is poorer than what you‚Äôll see on the Rez. It is hard to believe that you are still in the United States, where people are considered poor if they don‚Äôt have a washing machine, and credit cards are so readily available.
If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.
Deut. 15:7-8 NIV
When Jesus was born, he was born to an unbelievable poor family. The circumstances were questionable, divorce was being considered, the offering made at the temple for the purification of the first born was two doves-an offering only the poor were allowed to make. People were supposed to bring a lamb. His first visitors were shepherds that God sent angels to in the fields. Being a Jewish shepherd was the lowest of the low jobs for a Jew. Jewish tradition taught that storekeepers and shepherds would turn your young men into robbers, so only in the most poor and desperate circumstances would an upright Jew become a shepherd.
However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you,
Deut. 15:4 NIV
In Israel, there was one section of the country that was regarded as the poorest and most uncivilized area. Today we‚Äôd say it was full of white trash or trailer trash. That area was Gallilee. And as cruel as people are, even the people of Galllilee thought of one part of their area as the poorest and junkiest of their region. That area was Nazareth. God chose to bring His son from the poorest people in the poorest region to first reveal himself to the poorest people to eventually bring salvation to the poorest of sinners.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
As you prepare for this trip, what are your preconceptions about people that are poor? How has your upbringing‚ÄìChrist centered or not‚Äìaffected how you view the effects of poverty? Who do you blame for poverty? Does it depend on the circumstances? Have you been poor? Are you poor now? How do you feel about ‚Äúbecoming poor‚Äù in the future? What other thoughts or scriptures or fears do you have on this topic? So what?