But now we are back in the car. Sarah knows the odds are against these kids. She knows they will probably run away from home to live on the streets, become involved with gangs, and beg or steal to buy food and drugs. She knows the little girl will probably sell her body and the little boy will probably end up in jail, and they’ll both be lucky to survive 5 years on the streets. Getting control of the tears: “I don’t get this. Isn’t Brazil one of the wealthiest countries in the world?”
Sarah is in the back of the car sobbing. “Just give me a minute, and then I can talk.” This was her first face-to-face encounter with child poverty. A few minutes before, she had been sitting on a ragged bed as a little girl and a little boy climbed over her. The little girl was beautiful by any standards, even in her filth, but the three-year-old little boy, naked except for a tattered tee shirt, already had the vacant stare so common in the favela. We had walked from the girl’s sagging scrap-sheet metal home to the boy’s shack a few yards behind. A man sat rocking in a wooden chair, obviously stoned; the mother was nowhere in sight.
“Isn’t there enough money for them to take care of their own? Shouldn’t this be their problem and not ours?”
Philip turns to look at her, a bit of a hard edge to his response, “You’re absolutely right; there’s enough money here to fix the problem. There are incredibly wealthy people in this city who ought to be right here, right now, taking care of these kids.” He pauses, then says more gently, “Why don’t you get out of the car, go back inside and tell Franciella and Lucas that we’re not going to do anything for them because it’s not our problem.”
Here’s the point: There are children all over the world whose lives will not change if you do not change them. Kids like Franciella and Lucas won’t make it unless we get serious about faithfulness to our commission as Christians. This is not clean faith; this is not easy church. It’s dirty; it’s unpleasant; it’s difficult, but it is absolutely necessary.
Fortunately, there are Christians everywhere saying “This is my problem.” A church in Chicago started a home for the children of prostitutes in New Delhi, a young couple in Texas adopted an orphaned Ugandan baby, a medical student in Indiana spent his Christmas in a clinic in Haiti, a sorority at Duke University hosted a charity ball to benefit street kids. And Franciella’s family was given a new home in a safer place by a Midwestern businessman.
Extreme poverty and child neglect and abuse in Brazil is my problem. What’s yours?