During September I did the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge which meant that for one week, from Monday to Friday, I lived on $2.25 worth of food each day. I ate pretty plain meals; lots of pasta, barley, and vegetables with no meat or treats, or drinks other than water. ‘Live Below the Line’ is an international campaign and participants can choose a charity to donate their sponsorship money to and I chose the Tony McClean Nepal Trust, started in memory of the teacher who died in the Elim Christian School drowning 5 years ago. Tony had spent some time in Nepal and the trust has been set up in his memory to establish schools and clean water facilities for villages.
I explain this because I was also writing a sermon that week with slightly lower energy than usual. I don’t say this for pity. I found it an interesting experience to write a sermon during this week; to try and think creatively, biblically, and practically, with a rumbling stomach. I wondered how pastors and preachers/teachers all over the world prepared their messages with not enough sustenance to keep them going. I guess it would be a standard way of life for many, and perhaps they don’t know any different.
Imagine if that level of energy, what you can get from $2.25 a day, is all you had to go on, and you had to look after your family, you had to find food and water, you had to survive in tin sheds, you had elderly family or young kids living with you etc. It would be near impossible to summon the energy to better your situation, to try and find work, to lift yourself up and out of poverty. And that’s not even beginning to look at having the creative energy to start a business, to write a song or a book or a poem or a sermon, or to do something different in your community. How heartbreaking! Imagine what our world is missing out on because people do not have adequate care? Yet that’s the reality for millions of people around the world.
I feel profoundly grateful, in lots of ways, since doing ‘Live Below the Line’. One surprising realisation was how lucky I am to be teaching from a place of physical strength and nourishment. I feel encouraged by the work of Langham Preaching and other groups that support and equip pastors in third world countries. But I’m also challenged in my own response to the needs of people who live on $2.25 a day, every day.