When I was born, only a few years after WW2, Holland was still getting back on its feet, and the aftermath of the war and occupation was still visible. I grew up hearing many stories about the things people had endured, and it filled me with deep respect for the sacrifices that had been made, including by those who chose to stay true to their convictions, even to their own harm.
I recently took my teenage son to an ecotourism project in the big Complexo do Alemão group of favelas [slums] in northern Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are cable gondolas that stop on all five mountaintops, from where we could see the entire bay and all the beautiful mountain ranges. Dotting the mountains, there are also thousands of small huts lacking decent roofs and with bare and unpainted brick walls. Those were the favelas.
Before you begin, put on a strong stain-proof apron to protect against the drips of bitterness and the sourness of life. In a bowl of resilient material, able to withstand blows, falls, and chipping, mix the following ingredients:
“It’s not fair! They’re getting more than we are.”
“Things are tough enough as it is. How come they’re being favored?”
“What’s the difference between us? Only our language!”
Under financial pressure? Struggling to stay on top of your bills? Here are nine fixes that just might help bring you through.
Trust in God—He wants to take care of you and supply your needs. “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
One of my favorite Bible stories has also been a guiding light to me since I first started working as a volunteer in foreign lands back in 1978. Over the years since then, it’s served as both a promise I could depend on and a nudge I couldn’t ignore.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
—Proverbs 11:25 NIV
Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple.
—Scott Adams (b. 1957)
Money was scarce when I was growing up. I never lacked anything vital, but I never had so much that I could casually give something away without feeling the pinch.
Once when I was 17, a homeless person asked me for some money. I had been taught that giving brought good things back to you, so I calculated how much money I needed for my train fare home and gave him the rest—around ¥500, or roughly US$7. It was difficult giving away my last bit of pocket money. While I can’t say that because I gave $7 I got back X dollars in return, I do know that over the years I’ve received enough back to firmly believe in the “law of returns.”
Last Christmas, the magical spark never came. I was bothered by all the commercialism that plagues our city months in advance. Somewhere between the flashy ads in magazines and feeling I didn’t have much to offer Jesus due to the limitations of our circumstances, I lost my enthusiasm. I wasn’t looking forward to decorating the tree, neither did I want the guilt and stress that would come from cramming and rushing to “make things meaningful.”
Right after graduating from high school, two friends and I decided to travel around the western Mediterranean. It was 1969, and the streets of Europe were filled with young people roaming and searching for meaning in their lives. We took a train to Naples in southern Italy, then an overnight ferry to Tunis. Next, we traveled along the North African coast, hitching rides with local trucks and cars.