On Saturday I participated in an event called “Homeless Connect.” It’s an annual event put on by an organization called Sacramento Steps Forward that connects homeless people in the area with service providers that cater to the homeless. Different organizations set up booths to provide services, everything from bike repair to haircuts to vision/dental/medical checkups to legal advice.
Last year I was in the bike repair booth helping out an organization called Cycles4hope. It’s a really cool ministry that provides bikes to homeless people and offers repair services for their bikes. It’s a really useful ministry because bikes are often the only mode of transportation the homeless have. This year I wasn’t able to sign up to volunteer with them, but I was glad to see that they were there.
This year I signed up to help serve food but they had so many volunteers that I ended up just kinda standing around for most of the event. But I guess it’s encouraging to see that there are so many people willing to help out. At the end of the day I felt like I really didn’t do much, so I stuck around with Jim to help with cleanup and tear down of the event. As we were tearing down the signs I noticed that a lot of the homeless people were carrying big garbage bags full of bottles to recycle for money.
I thought about how much money was in those bags. Definitely not much. On Friday I had spent over $2000. Assuming one bottle is five cents, to get $2000 you would have to collect forty thousand bottles. That is probably more than ten times the total number of bottles that were given out throughout the course of the event, and each person would have only a small fraction of that total. Now that I think about it, to get forty thousand bottles you would have to collect more than one hundred bottles a day for an entire year. One hundred bottles a day sounds like a lot. I’m not sure how many bottles or cans an average homeless person collects in a day, but I bet it’s less than a hundred.
Of course spending $2000 in a day is a very atypical day for me. In fact it’s close to how much I spend in a month. But still this little math exercise shows how much of a disconnect exists between the income of an average working person and a homeless person. Why does such a huge disparity between incomes exist?
Lately I’ve been reading this book called “Why?” that tries to explain biblically why such poverty exists in the world. The author’s basic premise is that God gave humans dominion over the world and so in essence God gave humans the ability to eradicate poverty. He cites the example in Acts 2, when after the holy spirit came down, the believers were convicted and they sold their possessions and shared with those who were in need. In fact that’s pretty much exactly what it says in Acts 2:44-45.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
The funny thing is I actually led a bible study on this very chapter a couple of weeks ago and sort of glossed over this whole section. I guess that shows how selfish I am. Well that and spending $2000 in one day on possessions.
As if I didn’t hear this same message enough, pastor Jamie has been preaching about the holy spirit. On Sunday he also preached from this same passage and somehow tied it into tithing. Usually I don’t like those sermons on tithing, I feel like they often come across as using the bible for fundraising drives. But for some reason this time it spoke to me. Pastor Jamie’s application for the congregation was to get on the path towards giving. It doesn’t have to be right away, he said it took him like ten years to get to where he is now in his contributions, but to make a plan to get on that path.
I realize that a good number of people that read this blog are not Christians. And so if you’re not a believer I guess this doesn’t really apply to you and it probably comes across as me being really preachy. And so I was debating whether to even post this blog entry here. But in the end I posted it. It’s not meant to be preachy or anything, this blog exists mostly as my own personal journal and a reminder to myself how blessed I am and how much I should be willing to give. So take what you will from it.
Things I am thankful for
- cool ministries like Cycles4Hope and cool organizations like Sacramento Steps Forward
- writing words and the written Word
- the ability to work