A Car Crash Provokes Reflections on Poverty and Community

Yesterday wasn’t one of the greatest days in the life of Ryan Youtz. Quite simply, I crashed my car into the car in front of me. No one was hurt but the fender bender left my car undriveable needing towed to the auto body shop and left the truck in front of me with some minor damage. The driver of the truck was nice enough to let me off the hook, he could have claimed injury or wanted his bumper fixed… instead he said “I’m okay and it’s just my work truck– don’t worry about it.” Wow, nice guy.

I’m sure I still have hundreds of dollars of car repair bills in front of me and initially I became frustrated with the thoughts of most of my next paycheck paying off the damages to my car.

As I stood on the street waiting for the tow truck to take my car away, I began to think about some of my neighbors on Park Ave. I’ve noticed many of them don’t own a car as they walk to work or take the bus. And then I began to think about the even bigger picture, ‘I wonder what percentage of the world’s population owns a car.’ Upon returning home I did a little research and found out that less than 7% of the world’s population owns a car… or to put it this way, if the world were a village of a 1,000 people, less than 70 of us would own a car. But get this, over 20% of the world doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. That would mean, that in that village of 1,000, about 200 don’t have access to clean drinking water. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than recognizing that in this symbolic world village, I’m one of the 70 with a car and not one of the 200 without access to clean drinking water.

In church this week we read from the 15th chapter the Gospel of John. Jesus says in verses 12 and 13: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Those two verses have been going through my head since Tuesday night. Jesus commands his followers to love each other. I’ve been asking myself, ‘What does it truly mean for me to lay MY LIFE down for my friends.’ And now, 2 AM, on a Friday morning, I think about my car crash from yesterday. A car crash that has left me recognizing how much I actually have. Jesus also said in Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return”.

So, I humbly ask our God to continue to teach me what it means to love those around me. And what it means that I have so much. I’m part of the 7% of the world with a car (even though it is all crashed up in the shop, haha)…. what does this mean? Why do have I so much? What can do to love my friends in Park Ave (and around the world) who seem to have so much less? What is required of me? And again, how do I truly lay down my life for my friends?

Just some thoughts… I should probably go to sleep and let the Lord continue to teach me in the morning. 🙂

-Ryan Youtz


2 responses to “A Car Crash Provokes Reflections on Poverty and Community

  1. A thoughtful reflection. You did an excellent job of reframing your recent setback by placing it in the context of a much larger picture. It is always good to remind ourselves of all we have been given and to reflect on what we can give in return.

  2. Abel Muwanguzi

    May the Lord continue to use you in the way He has given you such big revelations and a heart for other people. Ryan that’s pure religion!!!

    Thanks be to God that you are part of the low percentage of those who cars in this world and may the Lord bless the truck owner; You know what i mean.

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