International Ministries

Bare Minimum

September 15, 2011 Journal
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The Incentive of Money

When we visit friends & family in the United States, we often hear people ask this question: “Why do so many people risk entering the United States illegally, especially from Mexico?” Perhaps the following information will help you realize the financial incentive that draws people to the land of opportunity:
 
The Federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour.

The minimum wage in Mexico is $4.61 USD* per day or $.58 per hour.

The real minimum wage in Baja California Sur is $6.13 USD per day

The US minimum wage is about 7 times greater than the Mexican wage.

(*USD = United States Dollar)

A worker earning the minimum wage of $4.61 in Mexico would have to work 22 hours/day to be able to purchase the basic food basket recommended by the government.

If you had the hope of increasing your salary per hour by 7x in order to provide for your family, then would you take the risk?  If the minimum wage in Canada was 7x higher than that in the United States, how many Americans might illegally cross the border into Canada to find work?  Money can be a powerful incentive.  Especially if you’re already desperate and have little to lose.  That doesn’t make illegal immigration right, but this is the major reason that so many risk it

We need to be honest and acknowledge that despite the economic hardship and bleakness the United States is presently mired in, we are still abundantly blessed.  We still have resources and choices that the average person in Mexico will never have. 

 The Mentality of Limited Goods

But when we have less to give away, when we are struggling to make ends meet, when the financial bottom seems to drop away, we easily fall into a hoarder’s mentality.  I can’t give something to you because I might need it an hour from now.  My instinct is to hang on, grab harder, hold closer to the little I still have left to cling to.  I am reacting out of fear and loss.  I become suspicious of the validity of your need in the overwhelming reality of my own.

To combat these feelings of “not enough” or “running out soon” or “less than,” I decided to start giving things away.  Today I gave away eight coffee mugs that I never use.  They even match a set of dishes I own, but if I never use them, so what?  We’re giving away a twin bed that no one sleeps in to a family of five that are presently sharing a king size bed and one twin.  A friend of mine asked me this morning if someone in my church had a pillow that she could give to an elderly, diabetic neighbor.  She went to visit him and found his pillow filthy and full of dirt.  I had a spare pillow and gave it to her immediately.  Why ask someone else if I can meet that need right now?  Every couple months I go to my closet and sort through all the clothes I own.  I’ve made a policy that I won’t buy new clothes until I give some old ones away.  Giving things away is a liberating experience that snaps me out of the “not enough” mind trap.

 $1 Can Make a Huge Difference

Sometimes this idea of “not enough” even pervades how we give money to missions.  We wrongly assume that $1 or $3 or $5 won’t make a big difference, so why give at all?  So we do exactly that.  Give nothing.  Let me smash that myth for you—right now!  We have countless individuals who have pledged to support our ministry by giving $1 a day, $30 a month.  It’s making a difference by allowing us to serve in Mexico.  We have churches that are giving $25 or $50 a month and those gifts are providing scholarships for students at the theological school as well as providing a stipend for the director.  We had children who attended a Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Scottsdale, AZ adopt an orphanage in La Paz as their week-long mission project.  Their offering will help buy new school uniforms for 40 children. 

Oakwood Baptist Church, WV, raised funds to send their youth pastor & wife to assist us with a youth conference at the end of this October.  They are investing mission dollars in people by sending us an expert to train others.  Crossway Community Church, OH, is sending a mission team in October not only to assist with this same conference but also to reach out to poor neighborhoods.  Generosity is not about how much you give, but about the attitude of your heart when you give.  If you believe that $1 will change the world for Christ, then God can multiply that $1 into millions.  In fact, we see it happen every year when churches receive the World Mission Offering!

There is enough. 

More than enough. 

Jesus said in John 10:10b:  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (KJV)

Abundant joy! Abundant hope! Abundant love! Abundant grace! Abundant life!

The world may tell you that you’re existing on the bare minimum, barely holding on.

But as followers of Jesus, we have a different story to tell.