posted in: Inspiration | 6

I worked at a university and for many years we conducted household surveys in suburbs of the Vaal (in the southern part of Gauteng Province) to determine the poverty levels of households. Once, we included a question in the survey, asking the head of the household if they consider themselves poor or not. To our amazement, when we analysed the data and worked out the level of poverty for each household, several of those above the poverty line considered themselves to be poor, while several of those that were well below the poverty line, considered themselves as not poor! How could this be explained?

In 2012, I was on an assignment to Yaoundé, Cameroon. The first time I went, I stayed in the 5-star Hilton Hotel in the centre of the town. The next time, I had the opportunity to stay with Daniel and Marthe Takoundjou in a suburb which I would call a slum. The house was up against a hill. Walking up to the house, sewer water was running down the hill next to the footpath. Houses were cramped together and there was not much space in between. If you opened a window in the house, it was right in the courtyard of the neighbour, where people were talking loudly and playing loud music.

Then I experienced something very extraordinary. Despite the noise all around and the sewer water and the crowded slum, there was a very noticeably peace in this house! There was such a good atmosphere around Daniel and Marthe in the way they talked to each other and dealt with each other and with their children. I slept that night in a bed which was for sure not the standard of the Hilton Hotel. But all in all, the Hilton experience was very cold and poor compared to what I experienced here.

In the morning I sat in the living room, marvelling at what I saw and heard and experienced, when all of a sudden, their daughter Ruth (about 19 years old then) interrupted my thoughts. “Can I tell you something?” she asked out of the blue. “Yes, of course…,” I answered. “You know what, I have never seen my mom and dad quarrel or being nasty with one another,” she said boldly. I sensed it was the truth, everything in this house, the whole atmosphere confirmed it. And if the walls and roof could talk, I am sure they would also confirm it!

I got to know Daniel and Marthe and their family over the years very well. In daily life Daniel is just a trader, nothing special, not earning very much. But he is also a ‘shepherd’ of a flock of families with children and young people in a church. They are all very fond of him. If he speaks to them, quoting from God’s Word what has helped him, it has depth and content. There is a life behind the words. Daniel and Marthe are two people that have left a deep impression on me and became very precious friends of me and my family.

Yes, when there is goodness, harmony and thankfulness in a home, they are “rich!” Godliness with contentment is a great gain! (I Tim.6:6). But when there is quarrelling, bitterness, accusations, complaining, etc., then they are very “poor” and all the money in the world cannot alleviate this deep poverty! My perception on poverty and the alleviation thereof has changed considerably since. I do not say that we should not do our very best to help people out of material poverty, we should of course do that, but I understand that if we cannot help and show them to come out of quarrelling, complaining, bitterness, jealousy, etc, that they remain “poor”, in spite of material progress.

Daniel and Marthe were of course not born this way. There is a secret behind such lives. To find out what this secret is, see

6 Responses

  1. Gibson Mzumazi

    Yes, it is very good to see this family as an example of being poor to materials and properties but rich in heavenly life.

    All of these earthly things are for temporary and doesn’t have value for ertenal life. This is true and my life has to focus on heavenly things, that is all about seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

    May God help me so that I may not be busy with this earthly things.

  2. Maffo djubril

    C’est très bien de voir ses amis , cette famille car même si ils sont pauvres matérielement pour ma part je vois une très grande richesse dans leur vie la façon de faire et d’agir ils sont très accueillant et on beaucoup d’amour dans le cœur pour les amis. lorsque je suis avec eux dans leur maison je me sens en paix je me sens chez moi cette ambiance qui y règne dégage une odeur de vie céleste .la sœur MAR THE très gentil et très accueillante elle trouve toujours quelque chose à nous donner mes amis et moi à se mettre sous la dent même si c’est le peu quelle a à partager avec sa famille elle le partage avec tous cela m’a beaucoup marqué , le frère Daniel un modèle pour moi j’aime être à ses côtés car je sais que je ne manquerai jamais des paroles d’évangile et des paroles de foi grâce à cette famille j’ai pu apprendre que l’on peut vivre heureux et se sentir riche sans pour autant avoir beaucoup de biens matériels .
    Je suis infiniment reconnaissant à cette famille je ne saurais tout exprimer par des mots …
    merci pour tout.
    dans la vie il y a pas que le bien matériel car tout cela nous vient après avoir cherché premièrement le royaume des cieux ainsi je suis sûr que même si je ne suis pas riche en bien matériel le Seigneur me rendra riche intérieurement et me donnera de la paix du cœur ainsi je serai toujours toujours dans la joie et je pourrais servi mon prochain avec amour.

  3. Elvis

    Very nice and interesting story you’ve shared here between Daniel and Marthe. Very touching and with lots of lessons to be learnt. Thank you for sharing with me.

  4. Mikaele Elemia

    I too need to consider the relationship between Jesus and myself and not let the moment dictate what my future holds.

    While in this world I must seek after the kingdom of heaven.

  5. Stefan du Toit

    I have always seen myself as someone that wants to do the good for the poor in my planning profession and for that reason I involve myself with Government upliftment projects where the aim is to HELP those who are poor etc. to create places that will uplift their perspective from their past and current situations. Time and time again, I have seen the “temporary” joy that these communities experience just to slump back to their POOR conditions, being left with a failure of a project.

    Thank you Tielman , for sharing such a wonderful and heart warming experience. It is truly an eye opener for me.

  6. Dina Maria du Preez

    To hear about these precious people (Daniel and Marthe) is truly is a blessing. Thank you very much! The hidden treasures and rich content in lives of people like Daniel and Marthe… that is really something of great value to desire!!!

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