City of Contrasts

The islands of New Providence and Paradise Island have provided me with a very unique experience thus far. There is an opulence here that surpasses anything I ever witnessed in Toronto. But there is also widespread poverty here that is startling and heart-wrenching.

And, incredibly, these two contexts exist almost side by side.

Just last week I had the opportunity to visit Atlantis Resort with my family. Atlantis is one of the most highly regarded resorts on the planet. Everything about this resort is 1st Class. Within Atlantis there is absolutely no sign of poverty, and so it is easy to forget the desperation that is nearby.

This is not my experience when I am at my office at the Kirk. It is often the case that when I look out my office window I see a man sleeping on the shaded porch in front of our church doors. The man who sleeps here is known to us, and we welcome him. I don’t yet know “his story”, but I know that he is often hungry and that he is often in desperate need. I have provided meals for him, and he now owns some of my t-shirts, and yet I realize that I’ve done little to change his predicament. Today I “caught” my friend washing my vehicle…I was humbled by his thoughtfulness. I pray that as I get to know this man better, we might begin to talk about more personal things, and that I might have opportunity to share the Gospel with him.

Last evening I had the privilege of playing tennis at the prestigious Ocean Club on Paradise Island. Again, not the slightest hint of poverty anywhere nearby (For that matter, not the slightest hint of the middle class!). Playing tennis here once a week with one of the Kirk’s members has become a recent custom for me which I enjoy very much. I am mindful, however, that this experience is exceptional rather than normative.

Tomorrow morning I will be visiting a place for the first time called Ranfurly Homes, which is a residence for children who have been orphaned, abused, neglected, or abandoned. I don’t know what the visit will hold, but I suspect it will further remind me how profoundly varied the living conditions are for the residents of New Providence/Paradise Island.

One approach might be to shun the “high life”, and focus my time and energy on those who have little or nothing. Another approach might be to shrug my shoulders at the impoverished conditions and say, “It is what it is”, and then go hit some tennis balls.

I have a different resolve. Rich or poor, we perish apart from Christ (John 3:16-18). The Lord has placed me in a context where I have the opportunity to live among people with vastly different personal situations. All of these people, however, share a single need: Jesus.

As I continue to become accustomed to this city of contrasts, my resolve is, and will continue to be, to love all people and to preach Jesus.

5 thoughts on “City of Contrasts

  1. Quite the challenge to live within the contrasts. Without Christ you are right we all perish, may the Lord allow us all to see at all we meet as He sees them and allow us to be useful wherever we find ourselves.

  2. What awesome fields to harvest, my friend – and imagine what could be done if Christ moves the “haves” to live Acts 2 with the “havenots”. You are uniquely placed to show both the hands and feet of Him.
    Bless you for being part of what God wants to do in your new community.

    • Thanks Diana! I can’t tell you how humbling/touching it was for me to see my homeless friend washing my car–he did so with no expectation that I would have even seen what he did. I look forward to meeting the children of Ranfurly tomorrow.

  3. Bryn,

    You have got to read the book: “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

    Does Amazon deliver?

  4. Hello Bryn,
    I have been reading your blog and have been blessed by it. I especially appreciated your Cities of Contrast post. I was raised in Latin America where my parents were missionaries for 34 years. I too remember the stark contrast between the young boys sleeping in box on the sidewalk that my mother brought home one night and then being at a country club eating filet mignon and swimming in the pool with the daughter of some people that came to our weekly Bible studies. In spite of such contrast, their need for a Savior and our need for a relationship with this Savior is the same.

    The journey has not always been gentle and yet I know that we never walk alone. If you get a minute, please listen to the following link where I share the story of my granddaughter’s journey into pediatric cancer and how through that experience, God has given us a passion to get His Word to children.

    Speaking Through Generations
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFj4flwc6Rw&feature=related

    I am one of the creators of the Bible-based online virtual world of YAHERO and my husband has also been reading your blog. He just told me that your daughter has played the YAHERO game but that she isn’t a subscriber. I’d like to offer her a free annual subscription so please let me know if she would like that and we’ll set it up? (marta@yahero.com) We are offering free annual subscriptions to all missionary children. I realize now what a privilege it was for me to be an MK and how much that has enriched my life so I’d like to bless other MK’s.

    This comment has gotten a little longer than I anticipated:) I hope to hear back from you and keep up the good work Bryn – He is using you to bless people in all walks of life and to bless me as well.

    For the cause alongside you,
    Marta LoFranco

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