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Compassion for the poor – what a blessing!

February 4, 2015

A Guest Post by Sarah Wiggins who works for Tearfund in the Advocacy Team
stuart_broad

Last week Stuart Broad, the cricketer who earns a basic salary of £700,000 a year posted this on twitter:

‘I’ve heard if you earn minimum wage in England you’re in the top 10% earners in the World. #stay #humble.’

Who knows what motivated him to put that out – he’s been slammed in popular media for being incredibly tactless. But if you take it at face value he could just be saying that there is an awful lot of poverty in the world. Perhaps he’s noticed the horrors of slums in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India when he’s been on tour?

Factually, people earning the minimum wage in England are in literal monetary terms in the top 10% earners in the world. Of course, most of us know that if you take costs of living into account they would be far from being amongst the 10% wealthiest.

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On Friday I went to see the play Behind the Beautiful Forevers at the National Theatre. It is based on a book by journalist Katherine Boo, who was motivated to communicate a deeper understanding of poverty by spending time in a slum next to Mumbai airport. She said in an interview that ‘It seemed to me that … some of the experts most ready to describe how lower-income people are faring weren’t spending much time with those people.’

Proverbs 14:21 says ‘It’s criminal to ignore a neighbour in need, but compassion for the poor – what a blessing!’ (The Message).

Watching the play touched me again with a sense of indignation and injustice for the massive inequality that exists between people living in absolute poverty and many of us who live in richer countries (and that doesn’t just include international sports people). These verses in Matthew 25:34-36 have been running over and over in my mind in recent weeks:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.’ (The Message)

I have been asking myself – where am I helping the hungry, homeless or those in prison – where like Katherine Boo am I spending time with people who are poor? There are already some ways that I respond to this – I work for Tearfund and I sometimes remember to go out of my way to talk to people who are on the margins of society. But it’s been a couple of years since I had one of those friends back for a cuppa, and it’s been a while since I’ve taken a deep breath and crossed my road to approach a neighbour with severe mental health issues. Life, kids and work have a habit of taking over. What will the King say to me – am I someone that just notices the poor on occasion and feels a spot of compassion, perhaps like Stuart Broad did, or am I living in the blessing of not only having compassion for people in need, but actually doing something practical in response?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2015 5:05 pm

    Reblogged this on matt's musings .

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