Thus, I found myself plunged into Marta’s story with a dozen other Americans. We tore down her old shack, placed a foundation and floor, raised walls, and added a roof. We insulated and painted, installed a toilet, constructed a fence around the home for her safety, and poured a little concrete porch. The Torres ladies sank their hands into the fresh cement, marking the occasion with the date.
Finally, we gathered in a circle as all the neighbors looked on (including local gang leaders). We dedicated the home to God, thanked him for bringing us all together in a glorious orchestra of grace, and handed Marta the keys. When it rained like a monsoon later in the week, Marta and her daughters slept warm and dry in new beds (the first they ever owned), without a drop of rain on their heads or a speck of mud on their feet.
In the end, what Marta gained was miniscule compared to what my friends and I received. As we worked, the joy dripped off our cheeks tasting of the words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I also learned that faith like Marta’s, nearly impossible to understand, is even more impossible to emulate.
As a middle-class American, I have infinitely more material means than Marta; I have more than most of the world. Faith, to someone like me, is more often a spiritual concept rather than a living reality. It is something invoked when life is simply not going my way, rather than a sustaining power within desperation.
Simply put, I don’t have faith like Marta because I’ve never had to employ such faith. My life, though not without its challenges, by comparison has been quite comfortable; comfort does not grow faith. Faith, like any muscle, grows by means of use, application and exercise.
“God has given me little that I might learn to trust Him more.” We who have been given much might learn a great deal from those with such faith. Certainly, we can alleviate their sufferings. And to be sure, they just might save our souls.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.