Should the poor give to the poor?

Lately I have observed something out in Cuba, in parts of Africa and other parts of the world that give me such great joy that I wanted to share it with you. In Cuba, which is one of the poorest countries in our hemisphere, we witnessed extremely poor Christians holding a baby shower for extremely poor, new mothers. It’s inspiring in many ways. Part of the leadership of that baby saving work there in Cuba is Jimmy and Anya.

Anya is a doctor and she makes about $20 a month in Cuba as a doctor. She spends a great deal of her time rescuing mothers and their babies, providing ultrasounds and now training other doctors across the island. They are an example of a couple in their extreme poverty who have given themselves again and again to other extremely poor people. Whenever you meet this couple, you just walk away inspired by them. I have hardly any words to describe such moments of admiration when you see extremely poor people helping extremely poor people.

During Covid, Jimmy and Anya and some of the others in Cuba worked with many mothers. When we got back to Cuba after Covid, we found that there were over 20 mothers in this one church that had been rescued from abortion. Some of them had their babies, some of them were still pregnant, but again, this is an extremely poor group of people in a small church who have spent whatever resources they had reaching out to other non-Christian, for the most part, extremely poor people and helping them have their babies. You can go around the world with Passion Life and see this everywhere.

In China, Sister Bai is a, I wouldn’t call her extremely poor but modestly poor, woman who spends all of her time now basically working with mothers. When I was last with her, we had dinner together. I think her cell phone must have rang about 8 to 15 different times during the meal as various mothers were calling her for this or that, and she was talking to them and she was tracking all these mothers with great joy as she helped these babies come into the world.
In India, our brother, Amit Paul, has been training among some of the poorest people there. He himself is rather modest and poor. By all American standards, we’d say he’s extremely poor, but he and his wife live modestly so they can travel around India and teach the gospel of life with our four questions in needy places around India.

When you meet these people, you are just totally taken by them because they’re inspiring. I think the point I’m trying to make today is that when extremely poor people help extremely poor people, something extraordinarily and glorious is unleashed. I think you’ve probably seen this in movies when some economic crisis happens and all of a sudden some five-year-old girl walks out with her little piggy bank full of pennies, and she says, “I’ve got a dollar and 17 cents. I want to contribute.” Everybody kind of smiles and laughs because they recognize that when the weak and the poor begin to step forward and they feel the need to help others, it just inspires everybody. It’s just a moment of glory because that’s a God-glorifying moment in time.

In the Bible there is such a moment as well. I just want to read it to you. This is in 2 Corinthians 8, and the context is that the Apostle Paul was in Macedonia, which is in the northern part of Greece, where the cities of Berea, Philippi and Thessaloniki are. Paul was involved with all those churches and he was collecting an offering to help with the famine relief that was back in Jerusalem. He’s writing here about how he was awestruck by the fact that the extremely poor people in this part of Greece, who were Gentiles, insisted on giving out of their extreme poverty to the needs of the extremely poor in Jerusalem, who were Jewish believers.

He writes the following: “I want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia for in their severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy, their extreme poverty has overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” See how Paul is just struck that in their extreme poverty, extreme generosity has spilled out of them and listen to all the descriptive words! You can just tell that Paul is just taken up and inspired by these young believers in Macedonia. He says, “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.”

Listen to all those descriptors. “Begging us earnestly for the favor of giving.” If you’ve witnessed extremely poor people begging to be a part of the kingdom’s work, giving of their limited resources, it is a moment that both glorifies God, fills the soul and inspires the rest of us who are not living in extreme poverty. I think, as I get older, I have greater means to be generous. I find that when you allow the extremely poor people of the world in this ministry to participate in the actual physical needs of the ministry, everybody’s blessed by it and inspired by it. So I am rejoicing in these examples that I see here in Cuba, India, Zambia and other places of extremely poor believers giving to the needs of other extremely poor people.

I believe God is glorified by it. I’m inspired to a greater purpose in my life when I see these people. I think that Paul was inspired, and I hope that you’re inspired too, because there’s a lot of needs in this world. To whatever degree God gives us the faith to contribute to those needs, I think there is a secret reservoir of joy that is to be had only in meeting some of those needs. I hope that you and I have a full measure of such joy over the years to come being inspired by these people. God bless.