How much stuff is enough?

I had the privilege last week of being at CLAN Gathering, a Christian conference held in St Andrews, Scotland.  Christian conferences and conventions are great!  Great for encouraging and building us up, great for networking, meeting friends old and new, great for being fed spiritually, great for setting apart time to spend with God and great for challenging us to press deeper into God and hear what He has to say to us.

CLAN is held in a big top (and assorted marquee’s) in a  field!    Now with our Scottish weather I have to wonder at the wisdom of that but we did get some nice warm sunshine in between the torrential downpours.   For a couple of days the field and the parking area bore a strong resemblance to a swamp and the car park stewards were kept busy pushing cars out of the mud.   But the rain did little to dampen the spirits of the attendees, in fact, weather being one of our favourite topics of conversation in the UK  it only added to the buzz!

I didn’t actually manage to get into many of the teaching sessions, not because I didn’t want to but because my purpose for being at CLAN was to be an Advocate for Compassion and my focus for the week was to be a voice for the children who can’t speak for themselves and to find sponsors for as many of them as possible.   There was great teaching from some very gifted leaders and the sessions I did hear were inspiring but just as inspiring were the many conversations I had with ordinary  people just trying to live out their faith day by day.

Our stand was located in the marketplace alongside the bookshop and a number of other ministry stands, all trying to raise awareness of their work.   By the end of the week we saw 79 children sponsored, a great result but our team worked hard talking to people about the difference a sponsor can make to the life of a child living in poverty.    As we chatted we  became aware  of an underlying anxiety amongst the people we spoke with,  I lost track of the number of times our conversations turned to the uncertainty of our economic climate, anxiety about jobs or  fear of what the future may, or may not, bring.   Such anxieties are very natural, I feel them myself , but it did make me think …. have we stopped relying on God and started relying on our own means and resources  instead?

In stark contrast to this, yesterday I found a thread on the OurCompassion site (a forum for sponsors and supporters of Compassion).  The starter question asked how people managed to sponsor multiple children (there are  a number of people who sponsor anything from 5 to 50 kids)  the responses to the question were mind-blowing and challenging.   Make a budget, deal with debt,  don’t go out for meals and coffees,  only buy ‘stuff’ when necessary and then try to get it second hand or on sale.  There was lots of  good sensible advice and most of the contributors had made real sacrifices to sponsor children.  But the biggest single factor was that people had quite simply made a choice to disengage from our crazy materialistic ‘bigger,better, faster, newer’ culture, and invest in growing the Kingdom of God instead.

Someone also shared this video which I thought was really helpful…..  How much stuff is enough?

So, today’s question ……. what’s worth more to you, lifting a child out of poverty in Jesus name or having that upgrade on your mobile phone?





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