April 2013 CROSSwords
A man went to hell because he didn’t see the poor. His name was Dives. He was a rich man. And there was a man by the name of Lazarus who was a poor man, but not only was he poor, he was sick . . . But he managed to get to the gate of Dives every day, wanting just to have the crumbs that would fall from his table. And Dives did nothing about it. And the parable ends saying, ‘Dives went to hell.’ . . .
Dives didn’t go to hell because he was rich; Dives didn’t realize that his wealth was his opportunity . . . to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother, Lazarus . . . He never really saw him. He went to hell because he allowed his brother to become invisible . . . He sought to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.
And this could happen to America, the richest nation in the world . . . There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will!
- Dr. Martin Luther King, last Sunday sermon
Washington National Cathedral
Life isn’t fair! We want it to be different, but we know deep in our heart that this is a true statement. Sitting in my office at CROSS Ministries I frequently have an opportunity to see first hand just how unfair life is through the situations experienced by my clients. A woman that I saw this morning was a classic example. Let me tell you her story.
Sylvia arrived in my office on the verge of tears that quickly changed to big rolling drops that that spilled down her checks as she told me about their situation. Mark, Sylvia and their children had been buying a trailer on contract. Sylvia explained that you could think of it like a “rent-to-own” agreement but with a trailer home. An old trailer, yes, but soon it would be all theirs!
The family had been making regular monthly payments, paid on time, and they were excited that they only had one payment left to go. Then Mark lost his job. Sylvia went to the owner, who also rents them the land that the trailer sits on, and explained their situation. The owner said they needed to pay up or move out. Shortly thereafter he issued a three-day notice to evict for non-payment of the trailer home that they almost owned.
Yes, this wealthy landlord could have taken the high road and offered the family some time to come up with the money. I am familiar with this landlord and I know that he owns many low-income property rentals throughout the Des Moines area. But he did not take the high road. When I called to inquire about the situation he said, “they are a nice family, but you know, business is business.”
Life is not fair and life is particularly unfair to low income people. Writing about all of the ways that this is true would take more room than my column offers. What I can tell you is that by calling in a favor from Plymouth Congregational, a church who also has a heart for the homeless, and pooling it with the CROSS Ministries money we were able to make the last “rent-to-own” trailer payment. Sylvia’s tears of fear and frustration turned to tears of relief and joy!
No, life still isn’t fair, but we, as people of faith will continue to see the poor. In the words of Dr. King, we will not let them “become invisible!” Praise be to God for the blessings of this ministry. Roberta