Thursday morning I woke up at 5:00 am knowing that this was my last opportunity to shower and brush my teeth for several days. This was knowledge that our 14 students did not share with me because our staff team had kept the plans for our Poverty Simulation under wraps. At 5:30 am our students were told that they were entering the next phase of project - our Poverty Simulation. They were given 7 minutes to go back to their rooms to collect 3 personal items that they would like to keep with them for the next few days (up to a week) while they would be homeless. The clothes they chose to wear would be the clothes they were going to wear that whole time. Their keys and phones were taken and they were kicked out of the building at 7:00 am and told not to return until 5:30 pm. Wow! Well, there are certainly a lot more details that went into this simulation, but I don't want to give too much away. I was the only staff member to also take part in the simulation, which included sleeping on a hardwood floor, eating an average of 1 meal a day, and not showering for the several days that our simulation lasted.
I can truly say that I would not have been able to understand poverty as I do if I had not taken part in this simulation. But living in poverty as a simulation is nothing compared to the realities that people face every day in the world. It's true that this experience was aimed at getting us to understand the physical poverty that people face, but its goal was also to show us the spiritual poverty that everyone has.
Smelly, uneducated, lazy, oppressed, on the wrong end of calamity, and without hope. Physically, yes, there are many people in the world who fit this description. Spiritually, absolutely everyone fits this description:
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:1-5
Beloved, without Christ we are all spiritually poor and there is very little that is appealing about us. But thank the Lord for his HUGE grace! He has made us alive in Christ!