Squalor Housing

For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:7 8 WEB)

My family wasn’t rich. At least we weren’t as rich as folks like Howard Hughes or Bill Gates. On the other hand we weren’t poor either. While my parents hailed from the hills of Tennessee I was raised in the more cultural areas of big cities like Atlanta and Cincinnati. During those years I never knew hunger although I thought I would starve some evenings waiting for dinner to be served.

I read stories and heard news about poor people around the world living in cramped conditions. Occasionally I would see a “homeless” person in the city. Most of my life that glimpse was as close as I came to the poor and homeless. Then God put us out on a little island in the Pacific.

There were very few poor people on the island. I’m talking about the folks who have no home, no income and beg for food daily. Then I visited other areas of the world. My view of the poor and homeless changed forever. I remember riding back to my room after church in Sri Lanka.

After church I rode to the B’s home through some of the most pitiful squalor housing I could’ve imagined. Along one street, if the pot holed narrow cart path could be called a street, there were houses literally one next to the other. When I was young I would’ve said they were “stuck” on each other, physically.

The wall of one home is the wall of the next home. Each was a single room about the size of the van, sometimes slightly larger and often smaller. This room was home for the entire family. This might include the extended family with children, grandchildren, and grandparents sharing the same piece of floor each evening, sleeping side by side. There were no facilities in the small room.

All bathing, eating, and cooking was done on the street. A local stand pipe on the street was everyone’s shower or kitchen sink. Many of those people were proud because they owned their room. They felt that at least they owned something. Those houses had no water, bathrooms or electricity. Home after home was illuminated by the orange glow of a single candle in the center of the floor.

As strange as it might seem there was the occasional flicker of a television coming through the doorway of a few homes. Battery powered televisions were the pride of the few who had scrimped sufficiently to enjoy this treat. They still lived in their one room house without water or electricity other than a battery they charged charged at work during the day.

The Sri Lankan people I met were amazingly content with their life. It was what they knew and expected. When things for a family improved they were happy as well. Paul reminded Timothy to enjoy the simplicity of having his needs met. Food and clothing should be sufficient. (1 Timothy 6:8)

I think many people have scratched this verse from their copy of the Bible. I find myself guilty as well. When was the last time we were encouraged to be satisfied with where we were? The world today, and often times the church, says we should always want more better and fancier stuff. We should want better stories to tell about our lives, more spiritual trophies to share with one another.

I think I need to look about my home, be satisfied with God’s provision and stop looking over the fence to someone else’s fields. Maybe I can write this verse back where it belongs.


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