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Dear Faith Family,

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You, (Psalm 39:7). 

I think I was up to seven different establishments.  That is, if you can call a 12’X12’ block building with a sign an establishment.  Some of the signs were different colors with a different name but they were all “bancas”.  And each name company had multiple bancas.  There were more bancas in the Dominican Republic than there are Family Dollar and Dollar General stores combined!  Throw in mattress stores and you still might not reach the number of bancas! 

So, what in the world is a banca?  It is a betting parlor!  (insert a shocked emoji here)  As I understand, at a banca you can invest in lottery tickets and even place bets on professional sporting events.  I confess it was confusing.  Even if I did know how to bet on the events, which banca would I use?!  And if I decided on a particular banca company, which branch would I visit?! 

Here's what I’m getting at.  Why would betting be so prevalent in the midst of such poverty?  How could business be so prolific as to warrant that many bancas? 

The only answer I could come up with is hope.  I’m making an educated guess of course.  But hopelessness seemed pervasive.  Could it be that people were so desperate that the bancas offered some attainable hope?  Could it be that the people believed that somewhere in those tiny little block buildings was their “golden ticket”?  And that dream offered some hope, even if it was a false hope. 

Made me wonder about us.  Are we here in the land of plenty still hunting for hope?  Like, if I can just rearrange my schedule at school next year.  Or, if I could just get that promotion at work.  Or, if I could just purchase that house.  Or, if I could just get through this health crisis.  Or, if I could just….  So what is it?  What is your source of hope?  Is yours a short-sighted hope?  Is it a false hope?  One that produces temporary fruit? 

Interestingly, in the midst of all that poverty (and I don’t just mean financial), there were those who radiated hope.  There was Motorcycle Man at the dump (the place where the trash got dumped – where the quantity of flies produced an audible roar – where people survived).  His smile was contagious, even enticing.  There was Every Reason for Despair Natasha.  I promise you that despair was far from her countenance.  And what of the scores of children energizing the 12 Bible clubs throughout the poorest neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic? 

The difference?  Theirs was a hope rooted in the living, saving God!  What’s the source of your hope today? 

Confidently expecting, 
Pastor Karl