When North Americans hear the word “poverty,” many times the immediate thought that comes to mind is a lack of money or wealth. But why? Why do we assume that poverty refers to money? Yes, a component of a poverty-stricken land is a lack of monetary means. By these standards, anyone would consider Zambia poor. More than 64% of the population lives below the poverty line. They live on less than $1.90 (US) per day. For the new foreigner coming to Zambia, they can see poverty everywhere they walk, particularly in the rural areas. Considering the worldly view, Zambia is poor. I, however, do not completely agree with this worldly view of poverty.
According to Dictionary.com, poverty also means a deficiency of necessary or desirable ingredients, qualities, etc. Living here, now over a year and a half, has allowed me the insider’s view of the daily triumphs and struggles for Zambians. Many Zambians will say something like, “Well, we don’t have much, but we have enough.” They cherish the things they do have. Most do not know the enormous amounts of stuff that are in many North American homes. And I am thankful they are unaware of it.
Zambians are very grateful to God for what they do have. They trust him to provide where there is a lack. I have heard countless stories of God’s faithful provision for
- means to buy some mealie meal (a course flour made from maize) to make their nshima (a very thick porridge) for dinner
- help to an exhausted grandmother who is the primary caregiver for her grandchildren
- means to travel to the hospital for evaluation of an illness
- good company in times of loneliness
. . . and the list goes on.
And when God provides, they praise him! Zambians are very aware of God’s presence and provision in their lives. They depend on God because they know that without him, they can do nothing. Their faith is so fat!
It is very common in Zambia to complement someone if they are a bit overweight or obese. They will exclaim, “You’re so fat!” This is taken to mean that the person has plenty and is not lacking. Another way to look at it—the fat person is not in poverty.
So, how fat is our faith? How much do we depend on God to guide us and meet our needs from day to day? Do we think we can do everything under our own power? If that is our thought, surely, we will fall. I have heard it said before that it is easier to trust God when there is nothing—but can we step it up a notch to trust God when we have plenty?
By the world’s definition, Zambia is in poverty. However, in God’s economy, Zambians have FAT FAITH. They depend on God to meet those necessary needs that will keep them living. When they are struggling—they praise God. When they are waiting—they praise God. When God delivers—they praise him even louder!
How loud is our praise? How FAT is our FAITH?