So I have to go to the next town over for internet because the internet café in town is down for repairs. There are a bunch of micro-buses that run between the two towns and only cost $.25 each way. The internet is faster here anyway. On this bus ride I see a lot of things that get me thinking about who I am.
I am from the United States of America.
That means that chances are pretty good that I have more stuff than a great majority of the world. The U.S. is very close to a lot of countries that aren´t as materially well off and cannot feed all of their people because of it. That reality became real to me in the fall and there are tons of examples of it here in Nicaragua. What does that mean for me as a Jesus follower?
The wealth divide in Nicaragua is stagering. I don´t know how well words can describe this and a picture would be nice. Maybe later. Back to the bus ride on the way to town. It´s only about a 5 minute ride, but you can see the difficult and not so difficult situations in Nicaragua in those 5 minutes. One thing that creates a pain in my chest every time I see it is a small community of people I see from the road. They live off of the highway about a half kilometer on the side of a mountain in small houses. These houses are made of large sticks pushed into the groung with garbage bags stretched over them to create the walls. The houses are maybe 15 feet square. There are maybe 15 or so of them. I doubt they have water and I have never been very close to them. This is difficult enough to deal with knowing that I just ate a giant plate of rice, beans, and deliciously spiced pork with a tortilla on the side. What makes this even more difficult is seeing the enormous Spanish tile roofed mansion less than 100 feet away from these houses. The divide is painful. That man makes enough money to feed the whole community below him for weeks, but he has a giant fence around his house to keep the desparation of poverty away from him. He keeps himself separated from the difficulty of poverty.
I feel that this is a problem for us Jesus followers. After looking at this scene a few times, the realization hit me that as a citizen of the United States of America, I am the man in the stucco mansion feasting and drinking fine wine while my neighbor goes hungry. Jesus talked about that a lot. Did you know that Managua, Nicaragua is closer to Miami than Chicago is? Haiti is even closer to Miami and the United States and that is the poorest country in this hemisphere. One of my favorite writers today is Shane Claiborne and he said that the problem isn´t that we don´t care for the poor but it´s that we don´t know them. I have spent my life building walls so that I don´t have to encounter the poor. I´m working on breaking down these walls. Purposely separating myself from those that Jesus spent the most time with is something I do not want to do anymore.
One last image from my town before I end and something to think about. I spend most of my days at the town´s Pre-Columbian Art Museum translating and writing proposals. Right accross the street is the town´s baptist church. I´m sure they love Jesus very much and want to follow him. I have no doubt about that. The church was founded by some missionaries from a very Western culture not too long ago. Right next door to the church´s brick wall that closes it off from those on its sides is a very small house with no electricity or water. It is made of sticks and plastic garbage bags. About 7 people live there and none of the children have shoes.