This is the third and final part of a short series entitled, Fight Poverty. If interested, you can read Part I [An Introduction] and Part II [A Broken World]. We want to do our part so Minhee and I have decided to give up our annual salary next year to join the fight against global poverty.
Global poverty is a very painful and complex situation. But, it can also be seen in a simple angle:
- There are people and countries around the world that are suffering, dying, and in grave need.
- There are people and countries with abundant resources that can benefit the “have nots” around the world.
- The solution is simple: Redistribute resources from us to them [since we are part of the same global community] and in that process, help create sustainability and build up/equip local leaders…
I know it’s too simplistic but we must see ourselves as part of the solution. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the material goods that most of us have access to but we can easily cross the line into gluttony and overconsumption. My family and I have everything that we can possibly need but there are times I still struggle with wanting more. When is enough enough?
Minhee and I are average folks trying to live our lives faithfully and passionately in Seattle. We have three kids that we seek to love and nurture and pray that they’ll turn out as agents of hope in the world. My family and I are not wealthy by any means. Yet, in the context of the larger world, we are filthy rich. We live off my one income of $60,000 as a pastor. I make another few thousand dollars/year for speaking at other churches and conferences. Minhee volunteers as an intern counselor. But we’ve made some sound financial decisions that have allowed us to own 1.5 homes — or at least, have names on the mortgages that the banks hold in our name. We even have three cars including an old convertible [a weakness!]. I shacked out couple thousand dollars a few years ago on a 1989 Mazda Miata. You should have seen the look on Minhee’s face when I sold our Toyota Camry Wagon and brought home that Miata during a mid-life crisis moment. Priceless.
We are certainly privileged and yet we struggle with wanting more. And goodness gracious, it’s so easy to become complacent. While God has been faithful in His provision in years past, I am still anxious about how to prepare for our kids’ college education, struggling with the mortgage payments, still checking out “car-porn” when my family visit Barnes & Noble, buying the next “necessary” item, retirement plans, or even wanting to indulge in my dream toy. I’m challenged by these verses from 1 Timothy 6:6-7, 17-19:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. … Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
I was also recently encouraged by these quotes shared by a friend:
“Money is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If it gets on top and you get under it, you will become its slave.” – E. Stanley Jones
“Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed.” If you’re enslaved by greed, you will not lead others with integrity.” -Richard Foster
I cannot speak for others. I can only speak for Minhee and myself. We are immensely blessed but we’ve been convicted and challenged in the areas where we need to grow: Contentment, Generosity, and Vision of Stewardship.
This is probably why God has really been convicting our hearts recently and after battling some of our fears of trust [and God addressing those fears!], it has given birth to this vision of a humanitarian organization to work with other organizations and individuals around the world to Fight Poverty. We’re unable to reveal the name of our organization yet but our goals include Awareness and Redistribution. As we take our sabbatical next summer, we hope to use the bulk of our time to help launch this humanitarian organization. Some goals: Raise a minimum of $2 million dollars before 2010, $10 million in the first 5 years, and $50 million dollars within 20 years.
Sounds naive and crazy, right? But how amazing would it be to help redistribute those funds to the men, women, and children who are actively involved in the areas of mercy, justice, and compassion around the global world? As nonsensical as this sounds, we have a simple vision and strategy that we believe can grow to be a movement not only to fight poverty but to create a subversive culture of compassion.
In that purpose, Minhee and I have decided to give away our salary next year  to this humanitarian organization and additional funds to total $100K in the first five years. Honestly, we’re pretty scared but we’ve realized that we can make our finances work through these decisions amongst others:
- We own mortgages to 1.5 homes. Sell our home next year and give to organization.
- Minimize eating out and the weekly babysitting.
- Stop buying.
- Sell excess stuff we don’t need.
We are making this decision not only because we feel “convicted” but because we are privileged. We are giving up our income next year simply because we can. I share this post not to sound spiritual or boastful. My hope is that our decision may resonate with each of you to consider Contentment, Generosity, and Stewardship in your own lives. And yes, I sincerely hope you’ll consider partnering with us in the upcoming years. Let me apologize in advance for the excessive spamming you might receive from me.
The world is a beautiful place but there are many things that are just not right. But not doing anything when we clearly know something is wrong and evil might be the best example of our human depravity.