Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Poverty Simulation

Our church was offering a poverty simulation recently. I debated about signing up to participate because well...we have our own level of poverty and it's real life for us. However, as I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Randy speak, I felt a real sense of urgency to go to this. Even though, we are going through this right now, I know that every situation is different. You just never know how God can use you. That has been my prayer--that God would take our situation and turn it around for something good and useful. I want to be open and willing for God to take our situation and use it for His glory. That means sometimes facing difficult opportunities that require you to open up and be vulnerable, causing you to relive the rawness of life.

It turned out that our oldest son also went. I was really proud of him for being willing to go to this, considering all that he's had to face as a teenager walking this journey. This isn't just hitting my husband and I. It's our whole family. Each individual has experienced it. For the older ones, it has been an extremely tough time. A life changing experience.

They had us separated into groups which were your family for the three hours. Each were given a description of their particular situation, a set amount of money, a few items you could pawn off and some transportation passes. As we were going about taking care of our families needs like getting food, paying bills and working, most were having a fun time with the simulation, really getting into the acting of their part.

After the simulation part was over, we sat around discussing our observations. Many noted how quickly the family unit fell apart, how many of the kids resorted to criminal activity to help their families survive, and how utterly hopeless and frustrated everyone was at the end.

It was really draining on me emotionally and I have to admit I was quite a bit out of sorts and cranky when I got home. It's hard to not be able to leave that behind and to have to live it day after day. However, there are two things that stuck out to me. First, it was noted that the more frustrated and hopeless these families felt, the less they focused on others. Instead, the focus was on their survival. Secondly, the kids were left to raise themselves as the parents were trying to work, get help from the agencies or take care of everything else leading the kids to pregnancy and drug use.

I am so thankful that even though we are financially drained and falling apart, that our family unit is sound. It is even stronger than it was before all of this happened. In fact, one of the neatest things to come out of this is the fact that my husband has had the opportunity to reconnect with His children and has had the time to share what burns on His heart. The love He has for God. It has been amazing watching this develop and grow and how much the kids have learned from him through all of this.

I also have felt very strongly over this past year to not focus solely on our situation but to focus on others. God placed that on my heart for a reason. It was so I wouldn't get so centered on my needs that I missed seeing others around me. It was so that I wouldn't become utterly hopeless. It was so that I would see what God was trying to teach me. It has helped me immensely. One way to get out of your pity party, feeling the hopelessness of your situation is to help others. The last thing I ever want to do is for God to lead me to an opportunity to help someone and I walk away from it. It means getting our hands dirty and getting involved with people's lives, it means being open for God to use us in someone's life. Now that can be a life changing experience.

I'm glad I chose to go to this simulation even though it was a bit agonizing. It was a reminder that everyone I come across whether it be a neighbor, a friend or a stranger--that you just never know what they are having to live, to experience and that I, even with a kind word or a smile, can have an affect on them. We, as believers, have a responsibility to share the hope of Christ, to encourage, to comfort, and to share what we have...our faith.

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