I asked Dr. Tim Kubacki D.O. to share some of his perspectives about wealth, particularly as they relate to traditional American views. Tim and I served together at the Delaware (OH) Vineyard church plant back in the late 90’s, but now he lives in Africa as a missionary doctor. Tim is a very humble and gentle man and he never came off being wealth centered as he notes below. Tim started the Vineyard Columbus free health clinics in the 90’s.
First let me give you some background about Tim. He practiced emergency medicine in Central Ohio for 15 years, and from 2005 – 2012 was in Brazil in the Amazon basin, taking health care and the Good News to the most remote villages he could find (in the jungles for 3 years by motorbike and on the rivers for 3 years by boat). He has been in Angola since April 2012. He lives at a mile elevation and the climate is nice (especially compared to the climate on the equator during his 6 years in Brazil). It is mountainous desert, with a long dry season and a short wet season. The languages are Portuguese and various tribal languages. His days are variable. Sometimes he helps at several hospitals for long (almost 12-hour) shifts. The work is plentiful as the health care need is great there after 30 years of war and little infrastructure. The gospel need in the cities isn’t great, as there are plenty of churches (quite religious ones but lacking in love for God and for each other). In the rural areas, there are many tribal groups with no gospel presence at all, and it is these groups that Dr. Tim is targeting with his health care ministry. He has three small airplanes and two pilots, and he has begun to visit these groups to introduce modern medicine and Jesus. If you are interested in learning more about Tim, visit his blog.
Here is what Dr. Tim shared with me:
I think that my views on money have changed radically over the past ten years or so. Much has to do with the global perspective that I’ve developed as I lived in developing countries. I once had a doctor friend (making over $300,000/year) say in the course of a conversation, “One day if I become wealthy…” In the US, we are like this friend of mine, completely ignorant that even the poorest of us in the US are attempting to serve God and money (though we would all deny it) and Jesus said that it simply cannot be done. This has created in our churches a radical, comfortable, lukewarmness that allows us to attend services and be too busy (chasing what money can buy) to have concern for the rest of the world (Jesus’ new commandment), most of which both live apart from the Kingdom of God and suffer tremendously from sickness and poverty (so in need of the resources that we hoard).
Many of those seeking to walk with Jesus in the States don’t realize the bondage they are in as they try to serve Jesus and money. I can attest to this from personal experience. I had to get really tired running the US race and leave, only to finally recognize that I had been, indeed, trying to serve two masters. After entering the developing world (where life is necessarily radically simplified), I was able to look back and realize what bondage (“more, more, more…”) I had been in, and the damage that it had done to me. The “more, more, more” bondage was not only material, but spiritual, as well. The American dream has something to do with never being satisfied and this attitude is sadly seen also in our churches, however the radical lack of contentment in US Christians validates that our hearts aren’t right. I’ve learned that desire for the Kingdom of God minus distractions equals contentment. It’s really tough to maintain a Kingdom focus and experience contentment while chasing many distractions. And, of course, less money always yields less distractions, period.
I had a very real desire to have a Kingdom focus while living in the States (as do so many U.S. Christians), but because I was trying the impossible (serving two masters, money -and everything it buys- and Jesus), pulling it off was… impossible! I pursued money (and all that money buys – comfort, security, leisure, etc) and therefore could not serve Jesus, though this went largely unrecognized until I moved away and lived with far less.
I’ve learned first hand that more money and more things do not yield happiness, joy, peace, etc, in this earthly life. I’ve had a lot of money and I now have very little and I would always choose the latter. In fact, I so regret the years that I tried to serve two masters because I now see how that kept me from walking more closely with my Father and from more fully serving him and those He loves.