Our neighbor and friend came to me last week asking if I could spare 13 dollars for Rita, on his daughter 13th birthday. It was 9:00 am. He wanted to do something special for lunch. I gave him the money, (which he promised to return) and he went rejoicing, bought some sausages which he grilled and celebrated Ritas birthday.
I don’t know about your idea of a birthday celebration. But this is the reality for the Campanas family. Their daily wages are only enough for putting food on the table. They wake up thinking about getting enough for the next meal. With longing they remember when times were better while working with the construction of the power plant, 10 years ago. We were able to afford meat, Mr Campanas remembers.
This is what ABC, the economic section our national paper published last Sunday: “from every 100 people that live in Paraguay, 35 are in a situation of poverty. From a population of 6.300.000, inhabitants, 2.200.000 are poor, and 1.230.000 is extremely poor. The gap between rich and poor continues to be a challenge for the government and the non-for profit agencies.
When I read these statistics, I thought of Mr Campanas and his dauthers birthday. Although these statistics are nothing new, they do reflect the ongoing struggle of nations that even with established democracies and great natural resources, can’t manage to help an important segment of their population live with more dignity.
These numbers sadden me, but at the same time make me very thankful everyday for the chance to serve in this country with so much potential. But there is another reality in the spiritual economy, not so distant in numbers. Paraguay continues to be a country with a small percentage of born again Christians.
From my local (district) point of view, I can say this for a fact about our spiritual reality. In an area with a population of almost 50,000, there are approximately, 25 churches (evangelical and catholic combined). Maybe one or two have more than 100 people in their gatherings. The largest Catholic Church maybe gathers 80 people during a regular service. On any weekend, no more than 1,000 people will make their way to one of these churches. That’s, 2% of our community.
Our Wednesday night prayer group began intentionally praying for this community. Join us in prayer to narrow the gap of spiritual poverty and plead God for it to affect the economic reality somehow as well. Pray for a deep hunger and thirst of God’s presence in Colonias Unidas (our region) and the country Paraguay.