I haven't really blogged much in several days. I guess the internet has been a lot more spotty than I was hoping. I hope you've been praying anyway- even if you're not sure of exactly what's happening, I'm sure God will fill in the gaps.
I've been thinking about poor people today- there are a lot of them here in the city. Often, when I tell people that we work in Africa, southeast Asia, and Latin America, people will ask whether we serve the children. Especially the poor children. When I tell them that we don't, I often feel that I need to justify that. How could we POSSIBLY work in places like Africa without directly responding to the needs of millions of AIDS orphans, along with the millions of other children who are literally dying from the effects of poverty?
It's not that we don't care. I care deeply. On this trip, I've been reading, "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. I highly recommend it. Stearns powerfully communicates the needs of the world, along with the Bible's call to respond to those needs. If you've ever been in the developing world, you've faced the sights, sounds, smells- life-wrenching poverty up close.
So why don't we do something about it?
We just teach them to be better leaders. And we teach them about what it means to serve with the heart of Jesus. And how to teach the word of God. But we don't feed them....
We've discovered that funny things happen, though...those local leaders begin to BECOME the answer for the poor. They begin to compassionately care for those in poverty around them. They read God's call to care for the poor, and they begin to actually do it. They reach across divisions of tribe, religion, and geography. Soon, we see THEM become God's answer. As we encourage and support our "partner ministries", small answers begin to spread like wildfire.
Church leaders in southeast Asia learn about God's challenge to Jonah, and begin to respond to the needs of those different from them.
Our partners in Kenya form programs to care for children in areas where the infant mortality rate is more than 20%.
Tribes that have hated each other for centuries begin to work together, which means that food, water, and other essentials are more effectively produced and shared.
And there's more....
There are three of us "Americans" on the training team for this trip. We're not doing anything about poverty. But we're training a couple of dozen leaders, who are training hundreds of others. Some of those are training others...and so on....
The three aren't doing anything about the poor...but the hundreds are doing a thousand little things. One person influences the next...one domino knocks the next one over. The next thing you know, society is being transformed. So maybe we're really doing a LOT about the poor.
Just thinking out loud on that.
Today (Wednesday) is my last day of training. My partners will be here through Friday, but I'm boarding a plane back to Chicago early Friday morning (I have to be at the airport at 4 am....aacckkkk...). In a couple of days, I will have switched worlds, and I'll be telling a few hundred people about my trip at our annual banquet. Please pray that I'll finish strong.
Pray that I'll influence a domino or two today...