For a while now I have been praying my little heart out and haven't received a response from God. I once even waited 2 hours in pure silence in my room because I heard from a sermon we were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason – so we should listen twice as much as we speak. Still nothing. I hear people say He communicates in different ways, perhaps I was hoping for something verbal, I don’t know. I sometimes struggle believing even that He speaks to us verbally – there have been times when He definitely was there for me (when I was being bullied at school for example and He knocked out this Kerryn kid with a soccer ball who was giving me hell), but most of the time I feel He isn’t with me or talking to me.
Anyway I came across this book 'Conversations with God' the other day while looking for books with my mum at Whitcoulls. I decided to purchase it because it sounded like something I needed as I felt I was being ignored through prayer.
For the most part, everything in it sounded true in meaning. The author, Neale Donald Walsch, claims to have had a personal response from God and written down everything He said. Being human, naturally I am a bit skeptic about this. Most of it sounded true, some parts, not so much (reincarnation for example, that there is no hell, and that Hitler is in heaven o_O), though I suppose I will only know when I die.
One really good question Neale asked God was:
Are you saying the world will always have problems? Are you saying that you actually want it that way?
I am saying that the world exists the way it exists – just as a snowflake exists the way it exists – quite by design. You have created it that way – just as you have created your life exactly as it is.
I want what you want. The day you really want an end to hunger, there will be no more hunger. I have given you all the resources with which to do that. You have all the tools with which to make that choice. You have not made it. Not because you cannot make it. The world could end world hunger tomorrow. You choose not to make it.
You claim that there are good reasons that 40,000 people a day must die of hunger. There are no good reasons. Yet at a time when you say you can do nothing to stop 40,000 people a day from dying of hunger, you bring 50,000 people a day into your world to begin a new life. And this you call love. This you call God’s plan. It is a plan which totally lacks logic or reason, to say nothing of compassion.
Whether that was from God or not remains a mystery (until death of course), but isn’t it true? If everyone cared, if everyone perhaps took a moment to spend a few bucks to buy a loaf of bread for that homeless guy on the street, maybe, just maybe, the world wouldn’t be in the shape it is in right now. I firmly believe that if everyone cared, there just wouldn’t be world hunger. If it was God speaking to Neale in this book, he hit the nail on this one.
Something I would like to personally ask God is where has all the money gone from World Vision: 40 hour famine? There are hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into that foundation yearly, and still it has produced very little result. Ok so a school here and there – that’s great and all, but that doesn’t cost $130M. I have seen much greater results with a small fraction of this.
Take for example The Dream Center in Los Angeles. It cost Matthew Barnett $3.9M when the nuns who owned the building were offered $16m from a movie company (I think it was Warner Bros?), but they gave it to him for that price simply because of the vision he had for it.
The Dream Center is now known today as the 24/7 spiritual hospital of the broken, the different, and the rejected people of society. Now THAT to me is a church, because they actually feed the poor and needy rather than preaching how perfect people are supposed to be and what they should and should not do.
So anyway, yesterday I had an amazing spiritual moment that has changed my life forever. Here is what I wrote.
Today I went with mum into the city so that I could buy more Milkman underwear with the $80 my grandmother gave me for my 23rd birthday from September, and mum wanted to buy me some Calvin Klein jeans because the ones she got me a few weeks back are already loose on me and I need a belt to hold them up.
When I checked my wallet before heading to the ferry with my mum, I noticed I had four twenty dollar notes. I only needed $60 because the undies were $30 each. I figured I would take all four anyway just incase I needed it. This decision would turn my world upside down forever.
We arrived in the city via the ferry, and proceeded uphill. Near one of the banks on the corner I saw a scrawny man down on his luck holding a sign. You know it’s bad when they have a handwritten sign and they are in bad condition.
I never stopped to look at what it said, probably best I didn’t or I wouldn’t be able to sleep from the shear sadness of his circumstance. Mum and I walked past along with everyone else. I looked back and his face just screamed ‘hopeless’. I realized how many people, myself included, weren’t taking any action.
Mum and I headed to a local vegetarian restaurant up an alley. They have the most delicious food, honestly. So she grabbed 3 takeaway containers at $18 each (me being unemployed she pays for pretty much everything, and she’s happy to, but I still feel guilty of this everyday, but don’t know how to fix this). One for her, one for me, and one full of these crispy potatoes for later if we’re feeling peckish.
I realized I had the $20 in my pocket that I brought with me just incase. I suddenly had a moment of inspiration. I said to mum that I wanted to buy that homeless man lunch. She was quite dumbstruck because I’ve never had the courage or spontaneity to do something like this (The only other memorable time being a few weeks back I spoke to a past school teacher of mine and told her how amazing she was, and she said it was quite weird because she was thinking about quitting).
So I grabbed the biggest takeaway container for $18. I chucked in some roasted pumpkin, chickpeas, wheat noodles with sesame seeds on it, a good handful of crispy potatoes, some beetroot and some sort of puffy rice with vegetables in it. I bought it, grabbed a plastic fork and a plastic bag and I was ready.
Mum wanted in on the action, and so she bought a fruity drink, and later down the road whilst going back to him, an almond croissant. We approached him and he looked like a stunned mullet when I handed him the bag of food and drink. He said ‘Hohhhh, thank you!’. I didn’t know what to say so I just smiled as I walked away. He shouted one last ‘thanks’ as we both gave him a wave. My life was suddenly shaken to its very core.
Here was I selfishly going into the city for some underwear I needed, and some $175 Calvin Klein jeans my mum wanted to buy for me, and I could have just made this mans day for a mere $18. I suddenly realized what was more important in that moment.
I told mum I couldn’t go into Smith and Caughey's and have her fork out $175 for a pair of jeans after that experience. She said I couldn’t help them all, and it was true, I can’t help everyone in the world, but morally I simply couldn’t do it knowing how much of an impact just $18 had on this homeless man. It just seemed hypocritical and wrong.
Throughout the whole day I noticed hundreds, if not thousands of people just walk past these homeless people as if they were invisible. They were all dressed in fancy attire, $200 business suits and one lady I saw with an expensive bag still with its price tag on. What has this world come to?
It really is true that we could end world hunger if we wanted to, yet we do nothing. It got me thinking… how hard is it to buy a loaf of bread for a few dollars and hand it to the homeless man on the corner? It could feed him for the day, and you might actually feel good about it.
When we rushed back to catch the ferry we had passed 3 more homeless people. We couldn’t help them though 🙁 I would like to think they at least were better off than the first man. These three people looked like they had a shower and some food the previous night at least (the last $2 I had I put in another homeless man's empty cup, so all my money was spent, woohoo) – the same couldn’t have been said for the first man I fed. As we were going back to the docks we noticed the man we fed was gone. Perhaps he scurried off to eat it before people realized he was already fed – as people are oblivious to the fact that there’s still night time or tomorrow for him to worry about.
I can’t help but think where he is now, a day later. Sometimes I feel so powerless. Why does the world have to revolve around money so much? It seems it’s the only thing keeping us alive, and it’s so unjust.
After this experience I feel like I want to do what Matthew Barnett did, in setting up a Dream Center, catering for the homeless, the broken, the lost, and the rejected, the different, and anyone for that matter who has been left for dead by society. I just don’t know how to do it though.
I don’t have the money for it; I don’t know how I would run such a thing, and many other things I would worry about. I can see it now: The Dream Center, Auckland City. With a library full of books or even Kobo’s (digital book reading things that look like iPads) with thousands of books to read from, free education facilities, a dance/music area, sleeping areas of course, a food area, and much more.
If only I were a multi-millionaire. I just need to win lotto >.<
Oh and another weird thing… when Mum and I were in a store, I heard music which I recognised immediately. It was some alternate version of Placebo's 'Running Up That Hill' song. I remember some of the lyrics 'If only I could… make a deal with God, and get Him to swap our places'. Isn't that a bit freaky? XD