“If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” -Deuteronomy 15:8
“Sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”
In the last year, I’ve learned some of the differences between a desire and a need; and I’ve realized needs are a lot fewer than I previously imagined.
Last weekend I stayed at the Takong school in northwestern Cambodia, near the Thai border. The folks there don’t have much stuff. The school has a pump, but no running water. You bathe outside in a towel. There is electricity. There is no wifi modem, but the cell phone towers give you some 3G.
Life is pretty nice out there.
If you drive an hour deeper into the country, though, things are a little tighter. We visited one Adventist family 25 kilometers away (it takes an hour because of the roads), who didn’t have a well. They get their water by carrying buckets 200 meters to the nearest creek, where the water is brown. In the driest part of the year, in April, the water sometimes doesn’t last. Life gets hard, then. They have solar panels and a DVD player. My cell phone switched to the Thai networks. One of their dogs recently produced a litter of puppies, and they asked if I wanted one. I didn’t.
If we take seriously this mandate to open our hands, until our brothers’ and sisters’ needs are met–which is what sufficient means–we should probably recognize that we need to start with the most basic needs. Or else we’ll run out really quickly.
Education and healthcare–in the most holistic sense–are these needs. Give people the capacity to make good decisions and enjoy good health–a key factor for which is clean drinking water–and the vast majority of our needs are met. You can give for wells in Cambodia here. One can usually be dug for around $1,000–maybe a little more.
Feel free to give, unless you have more pressing needs–in that case, say “Hi”, and maybe I can help.