Why not the best?

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We received really exciting news from Brazil last week. Just as in the U.S., Brazilian states put great emphasis on standardized testing to measure the effectiveness of their schools. The state of Espirito Santo, where our Hope Mountain campus is located, just released statewide standardized test scores, and Hope Mountain had the highest average scores of any school in the state. The average student score statewide was 418; the second highest school’s students averaged 516. The scores of the students at our Hope Mountain school averaged 620.

As you read those numbers, remember where our kids come from: Our residential students are former street kids, and our day students come from the poorest of the poor in the slums. They come to Hope Mountain with virtually no academic background and are often illiterate when they first arrive. But now they have bragging rights for the entire state!

Word of these results caused me to reflect on our attitude toward the orphans and impoverished of the world. Is a top-tier school really necessary for these kids? Wouldn’t something far more rudimentary serve them just as well? For that matter, do they need really nice clothes, and more than just a pallet on a floor somewhere? After all, shouldn’t they be grateful for whatever we provide?

We probably would not say it that way, but isn’t that pretty close to the way we really feel? Far too often, we want to pass them our leftovers, that which is too worn out to be of use to us anymore. Or, we want to give of our excess, the overabundance whose loss will not impact our lifestyles.

No widow’s mite for us!

But what if we looked at life a bit differently? What if we gave not of our excess, but of our necessity, and then trusted God to provide? What if we believed they deserved to live as well as we do?

Yesterday my wife and I joined The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch for one of their Advent Conspiracy services. The logo for the event caught my eye: a pair of darkened silhouettes; one, an obviously modern woman pushing a full shopping cart toward the second figure — a wiseman riding a camel.

Above the two shone a single star.


In this season of consumption, can we not push back from the table before we are full, and give not our leftovers, but our necessities?

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