I have been reminded today of a conversation that I had with a woman living in the Kibera slum which is home to about a third of the population of Nairobi (almost a million people!). She talked about her life, confined to this 3 metre square shack (composed mostly of sticks and mud) which she shared with her son. Everything they did happened in this one room - cooking, eating, laundry, sleeping... The rain came through the roof and she had little means to pay the measly rent required by her landlord. Her husband had died of AIDS and she also was living with the disease. Yet in the midst of this dire picture, she displayed an incredible hope. She told me that "God had a better place prepared" for her. I've often pondered this statement ever since.
You see, I'm not sure that I'd ever heard that phrase uttered outside a funeral service before. Our own lives here are so comparatively well off that sometimes our hopes for God's intervention aren't really that necessary until after we're dead. I sometimes hear about people praying for a carpark or for good weather on the weekend and wonder if God doesn't have better things to do. I am sure that God was with this woman in the slum who hoped for a better living situation for herself and her son - and believed that God would do it.
The Australian Government has just announced that they will be working on a 10 year plan to tackle homelessness in this country. I wonder if for some of the 100,000 people currently experiencing homelessness here, whether this might tap into their hopes for salvation. How can we know God's presence amongst the homeless unless it is as part of the alleviation of their plight?