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How Rich are You?

I’ve always been poor. When I was growing up we never had a car, and relied on sturdy old bicycles to get around. For years I traveled on a seat on the cross bar of my Dad’s bike, while my sister sat on a little seat just behind my mother. My older brother had a bike just for one.

I felt rich when I graduated to having my own bike, and we cycled miles around the countryside of the West of England, visiting places of interest and supporting my Dad as he preached in little village churches.

Our only vacation each year was to return to my grandfather’s farm, where with uncles, aunts, cousins and other helpers we assisted with the harvest. Meanwhile, my “rich” friends were traveling by car to Wales and Scotland, and some even made it to France.

Yes, I must have been really poor. So poor in fact that I dressed in my brother’s hand-me-downs, and wore darned socks. Poor in some things, yet rich in others.

Sometimes I still feel poor today. We haven’t had a cost-of-living allowance at the Baptist World Alliance for the last two years. Two of the family’s cars are more than 10 years old. At work we have had to cut back on our budget, and that makes things difficult.

Of course, poor is a relative term. Do you feel rich or poor?

Let me introduce you to an exciting new Web page someone sent me. It’s called the Global Rich List, and you can find it at www.globalrichlist.com. You are asked to enter your annual income, and the program will then tell you where you come on the Global Rich List.

The Global Rich list has been put together by a creative company in London, England, with the aim of inspiring people through interactive media. They built this particular site “because we wanted to challenge people’s perception of their personal wealth,” and “raise some money for a good cause.” They recommend CARE International.

When I filled in my annual income, I was surprised to see that I am in the top 0.779 percent richest people in the world.

It also tells me that there are 5,953,222,435 people in the world who are poorer than me, and that I am the 46,777,565th-richest person in the world.

I know that there are poor people in parts of the world called “the third world,” or the “developing world;” and I also know that there are some poor people here in the U.S.A., and even in the nation’s capital.

I give regularly to a number of charities to help the poor, and I try not to put the phone down too quickly to worthwhile solicitations. I put out lots of bags of old clothes–old to me, but new to someone else–and of course that gives me a bit of a tax break as well.

At church I serve on the missions team, and we did really well this year with our hunger offering. We beat our target, and felt so good that we were helping the poor and hungry.

So, check out this Web site and see where you stand in the Global Rich List. Then make a response and give to organizations you trust as they work to alleviate poverty here in Jerusalem, into Samaria and to the end of the world.

Here at Baptist World Aid we would be pleased to point you in the direction of projects around the world that are helping to combat poverty.

Paul Montacute is the director of Baptist World Aid in Falls Church, Va.