The objections are as ugly as they are predictable.

“Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. If He says we can’t actually eliminate poverty, why bother trying?”

“If they are poor, they must be lazy. They made their bed, now they can lie in it.”

“Why help foreigners when our own people need help?”

I’ve heard them over and over since I first expressed a desire to teach English in China during a summer job. My college-aged coworkers couldn’t understand how I could consider leaving the good ol’ U. S. of A. I heard the objections again when I traveled to Bolivia last year and again when I flew to Sri Lanka last month.

It’s disheartening to hear these tired old arguments over and over. It breaks my heart to hear such hard-hearts, such lack of compassion, such refusal to obey the commands of God. I try to understand. I know that these objections come from incomplete or misguided readings of Scripture, political sound bites, insulation from and ignorance of the poor, and our own selfishness and greed. Toddlers aren’t the only ones who don’t like to share.

ladies at the market in Sri Lanka

©2012 World Vision. Image credit Matthew Paul Turner.

Rather than cry or rant or give up on humanity as I am wont to do, I choose to confront these arguments again. Instead of simply debating them, read the five challenges (plus one bonus) I have for us.