Joseph Dias: A 41 yr old man and a member of a Berean group in town A
Daniella: Joseph’s 7 yr old daughter
Paul: Joseph’s 3 yr old son
The Bereans: An organization which prints New Testaments and Bibles for free distribution
Joseph and Daniella are sitting in their literature godown, stamping Berean NTs and new gospel tracts which have arrived, while waiting for a believer to come and collect gospel literature. They start talking about life…
Daniella: Dad, I wanted to ask you few questions. May I?
Joseph: Certainly! I’m your dad. You don’t have to formal with me. You can ask anything that’s on your mind, anytime, without hesitating.
Daniella: Thanks. Why are we so poor?
Joseph: We aren’t poor. What makes you think that we’re poor?
Daniella: All the people in our neighborhood have got good-looking cars. And we’ve got an old second-hand car. I’m ashamed to travel in it. It makes me feel so cheap.
Joseph: God has blessed us with a car. Many in this world don’t own a car, not even a second-hand one, and use public transportation to travel. It may be a second-hand car which God has given to us, but it’s in good condition and serves its purpose very well. A car’s job is to transport a person from one point to another. For God’s children like us, it’s not supposed to be a status symbol. The Creator of this whole universe, Lord Jesus, walked everywhere while He lived on earth. He traveled the whole of Palestine on His feet. He didn’t own a chariot, which was the equivalent of our modern day car, in those days. You don’t need to feel cheap because you own a cheap car. You are the daughter of a Heavenly Father who owns this universe. Jesus died for you because you are valuable to Him. Even if you wear cheap clothes, that won’t make you cheap.
Daniella: Good, you broached this subject about clothes, because I’ve been wanting to tell you for some time now that you never buy new clothes for me. I have to wear the clothes which the daughters of your cousins have worn. Only grandma and your sister buy new clothes for me.
Joseph: Not all the clothes which are given for you to wear by our cousins are second-hand ones. Several of them are new. They were bought by their dads, working abroad on merchant navy ships, who didn’t know the exact sizes of their daughters. If you see, all of them are good quality ones. Our cousins are wealthy so they buy many clothes for themselves and don’t wear them often. You have more clothes in your cupboard than any girl of your age, in your school, would have. There are millions of children in our country who don’t have clothes, and wear torn clothes.
Daniella: Really? I haven’t see children like that in real life. I’ve seen them on TV, yes.
Joseph: You can’t see such children in our village as it has mostly affluent people, but that’s the truth. Their parents don’t have money to send them to school.
Daniella: But isn’t school free?
Joseph: Government schools give free education, yes. But school uniform and books cost money, which their parents can’t afford to buy. And their parents don’t earn enough, so they send their children to work. Some children go with plastic bags to collect empty plastic bottles of water, to sell to junk yard shops. Then there are others who wash dirty vessels in restaurants, work as laborers, maid servants etc.
Daniella: Isn’t our poverty obvious to all? Like for example, when there’s a power-cut, late in the evening, all our rich neighbors who have inverters, can see that it’s dark in our house, because we don’t have an inverter. Not only that, it gets so uncomfortable inside, and difficult to breathe, and irritating too with mosquitoes buzzing. Why can’t we buy an inverter?
Joseph: Here in Goa, power-cuts are not very common. An inconvenience that we experience 15 mins in a week, or rather once in a blue moon, is not an inconvenience at all. People living in the suburbs in the cities of our country have planned outages every day, for many hours. Then there are millions of homes in our country without electricity. Can you imagine what it must be like for such people to live inside, such homes, during the summer season without a fan running? We have not just a fan in our bedroom, we have an ac too!
Daniella: Why can’t we paint our house every year, just like our neighbors?
Joseph: Paint costs money, and painters charge a lot of money. We shouldn’t waste money, unnecessarily. Getting our house painted, once in 5 years is good enough. We aren’t supposed to do something just because someone else is doing it. We are accountable to God for all our actions. All our money belongs to God, and we can’t spend it as we please, wastefully.
Daniella: Why can’t I have a room of my own? Several of my friends have a bedroom to themselves. When I go for their birthday party, they proudly proclaim, “This is my bedroom!”
Joseph: God has given us a spacious 3BHK house. One bedroom is for your grandparents, another bedroom for your dad’s brother and his family, and the third bedroom is for your brother Paul, you, your mom and me. We have to be satisfied with what God has given us. If you go to a city like Bombay, you’ll see even 10 people living in one rented room. Millions in our country don’t have a home of their own. Do you know that even thousands of Christians in our country don’t have money to buy their own homes? They live in rented accommodations, and will do so till Jesus comes.
Daniella: Can we say then that God has not blessed them, even though they’ve followed Him faithfully?
Joseph: No. No Christian can complain about anything that God has not given to them. Not even when they’ve not been given houses of their own. Firstly, because they’re not on the streets. And secondly, Jesus is building permanent mansions for them in heaven (John 14:1-3). A mansion is a large, impressive house, according to any dictionary. We can see many of them on earth. But the ones on earth are on a shaky foundation, as they are revolving on earth, and can be knocked down anytime by a flood or hurricane. Or can be reduced to ashes by fire.
Daniella: So we too will have mansions to live in, in heaven?
Joseph: Yes, of course! All believers will. If you believe that Jesus always meant what He said, you’ll get to experience it one day. That is why if we don’t have the things that our rich neighbors or the believers in our church have, we should not sulk before God.
Daniella: But why does God not give riches on earth to all of His children?
Joseph: Because it’s difficult for rich people to go to heaven (Matthew 19:23-24). And God doesn’t want to lose all His children to the devil and to hell, because of riches. Down through the centuries, many of His children, whom God blessed with wealth, stopped loving Him, because their wealth became their god, and they had to be sent to hell. They were believers once, but God had to spit them out of His mouth because their love for Him became lukewarm, and they thought that they didn’t need Him anymore, because they had everything that they needed materially (Revelation 3:16-18). God had to blot out their names from the book of life (Revelation 3:5).
Daniella: Is that the reason why God keeps some believers poor?
Joseph: Yes. In the Old Testamental period, before Jesus came to earth, the blessings which God gave to those who were obedient to Him were mostly material. But in the New Testamental period, God primarily seeks to bless us with spiritual blessings. That is why, God didn’t give even the great apostle Paul, who served Him faithfully, throughout His life, a house of his own. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:27 that he had frequently been deprived of food and water, left hungry and shivering out in the cold, lacking proper clothing. Yet, Paul was full of joy all the time, and gave thanks to God in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16,18).
Daniella: How is that possible? How is it possible to have joy when you don’t have the things of this world, and have to face hardships like that?
Joseph: Because our joy is not found in the things of this world but in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11), and in knowing that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). And we can rejoice when we go through difficulties as we know that they help us to become better Christians (James 1:2-4).
Daniella: How can difficulties help us to become better Christians? Don’t they make us grumbling Christians? For example, in our house there is only one toilet, and 9 of us have to stand in line, in the morning. That’s not a pleasant experience!
Joseph: Our house has a toilet inside. Millions of people have to go behind bushes in villages, or beside railway tracks in cities to relieve themselves. Millions have to use filthy public toilets. By standing in line for few mins, we can know the struggles people in our country are facing. Imagine that it’s raining heavily, and you’re suffering from loose motions, and it’s night, and you’re living in a village, in a hut that doesn’t have a toilet. Such knowledge, enables you to have a sense of gratitude toward God, for giving you a house with a toilet inside. And with water running through the pipes, 24/7, 365 days in a year.
Daniella: Don’t all people in our country have running water?
Joseph: No. There is water scarcity due to droughts in many areas in our country. When I lived in Bombay many years ago, water came through the taps only for 30 mins in the morning. Girls and women living in villages have to travel large distances to fetch watch. That is why we must never waste water.
Daniella: When God has given us space, why can’t we make use of it? Why can’t we build more rooms on the first floor of our house, like all our neighbors have built?
Joseph: Right now we’re not in a position to build one more floor. We’ve got a large housing loan which needs to be cleared, and it’ll take many more years for that to happen. Do you know that Jesus had to share a house with his mom, 4 brothers, and at least 2 sisters? Since they were poor, it must have been a small house. Like Him we have to learn to live together, and to adjust.
Daniella: Can’t we make Portuguese passports and go to live in Europe. Surely, mom and you will get good jobs. Two of my friends who migrated there last year with their families, keep sending me attractive pics and videos on WhatsApp, of the beautiful places they’re living in.
Joseph: We cannot go wherever we want, just because money is there in a particular place. Abraham’s nephew Lot did that, and lost everything that he had worked to earn. We have a duty to do in our country. Most of the people in our country don’t know the Lord, and God has kept us here to function as lights. We need to tell them about Jesus who died for their sins.
Daniella: Aren’t there people who don’t know the Lord, in those countries too?
Joseph: There are. But there are believers there who can tell those unbelievers about Jesus. We have to be in the place God wants us to be in.
Daniella: If we can’t go to live in a beautiful country abroad, can’t we at least go abroad for a vacation? Most of my friends have been abroad to countries like Thailand, Malyasia, Switzerland, France etc.
Joseph: Our country is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And our state Goa is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. That is why whenever you go to Benaulim beach, our local village beach, you’ll see people from many countries of the world, lying on it sunbathing.
Daniella: They may want to sunbathe, but I want to see snow, walk on snow, play in snow, and with snow, making snowballs. I’ve never seen snow in my life.
Joseph: On TV, snow looks fun to play with. But, you can’t enjoy it for long. Cold temperatures are unbearable, and cause frostbite, and other sicknesses. People experiencing such weather, long for the sun. God has blessed our Goa with the best climate. We don’t have extreme temperatures here. It’s neither very hot nor very cold. That is why Siberians from Russia and people from Scandinavian countries come here to experience the sun. Our Goans who’ve gone to work in the UK, are fed up of the rainy weather there, and those who’ve gone to Canada are tired of the extreme temperatures there.
Daniella: So I’ll never get to see foreign countries?
Joseph: If the Lord wills, that will happen. (He smiles) If He doesn’t come back soon, and if you grow up to become an air-hostess, you’ll be able to see many countries. If He comes, soon, then you’ll be able to see all the countries of this world, because there’ll be a millennial period of a 1000 years during which we’ll live with our Lord Jesus on this earth.
Joseph: Yes. During those 1000 years, you can have a whale of a time, and enjoy your holidays, going from country to country.
Joseph: Most Goans, including the families of your friends who have migrated abroad, had to do so because they didn’t have a choice. You can’t find jobs here that pay well. They didn’t have a business here which could help them to earn their daily bread, so they had to go. We don’t have to go. God has given us a homestay. It may be small, but God sends people so we can have our bread and butter.
Daniella: Bread and butter is all that we have. “Simple” food would be the best term to describe what we eat. There aren’t imported chocolates to taste. Nor ice cream cones.
Joseph: We’ve never starved. Millions of people in our country suffer from malnutrition. That is because they don’t get three square meals in a day. If you go to the cities in our country, it’ll not be uncommon for you to see people eating food from dustbins. Gluttony is a sin. We must not live to eat. We must eat to live. Gluttony causes many sicknesses. And you do get imported chocolates from your cousins.
Daniella: The chocolates they give to us are the cheap and not-so-good to taste Turkish and Indonesian ones. They keep the Swiss and Belgian ones for themselves. And part with the latter only if they are about to expire.
Joseph: My dear, I’ve spent a fortune on your dental treatment, to get all your grinders filled with silver, because of the chocolates you’ve consumed from the time you were 1 yr old until now. From now on, consume the word of God.
Daniella: Dad, today I’ve realized that I have so much to thank God for. I’ll stop comparing myself with those classmates of mine who have more than me. Will God forgive me?
Joseph: Of course He will.
(The person they were waiting for, to come and collect gospel literature comes and they pack tracts and Berean NTs for him in an empty carton).
This part of the drama on the Bereans was completed by me (Rommel Fernandes) today (24st September, 2018).