All posts tagged "Poverty"
I haven’t posted on this blog in a while, but yesterday, a pretty incredible thing happened and I wanted to share it. I hope it can inspire.
Over beautiful cups of coffee, my husband and I have developed a tradition of reading from scripture, discussing life and the topic of God, and praying in the mornings. It’s one of my favorite things in all the world. Lately, I have been really captivated by the parables of Jesus, particularly the “Go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and give your cloak (in addition to just your coat)”. Pretty radical stuff if you think about it. It’s definitely not a natural thing for me to want to go the extra mile for my oppressor or take the path of love instead of revenge or give more generously than even asked of me. As Nick and I mulled over these words, we discussed a nudging I had to give a couple of my sweaters to a little old beggar woman and a younger leper woman whom I’ve been building a relationship with. When I explained the interaction with Nick yesterday morning, I became a little frustrated at the lack of verbal communication I was able to have with them as we do a lot of “charades”, but not much actual dialoging. (Because of the obvious language barrier)
Later in the day, I was excited to see the older woman wearing the sweater I gave, one of the many layers she was wearing as a tiny, frail woman in the cold. She began signaling to all the areas of her body that ached. She is a beggar, who sits for most hours of the day, on a brick in the dirt, and is obviously skin-and-bones. Completely out of my comfort zone, I felt I should sit beside her, in the dirt, and pray with her. I put my arm around her delicate little body and just started praying to Jesus. I didn’t know what to pray. I’m not sure my faith was strong enough to see healing for this woman, but I prayed anyways. I felt compassion run through my body in a new way. After I said my little prayer… the size, I promise, smaller than a mustard seed, I kept my arm wrapped around her and just began to hug her. We were cheek to cheek, in the dirt, just embracing. In complete silence. I just felt so much love for her all of a sudden. I didn’t feel her try to let go or pull away, so I continued to hug, as did she. The only thing that broke the silence was the sound of her tears. She started to cry. I just held her longer. Then, I looked straight into her eyes and told her that she is beautiful, and that I will continue to come visit her and pray for her.
I’m not sure what she understood of my words, but I am certain that both of us understood about love. A deeper love that is bigger than the both of us. Bigger than all of us.
And as I sit recalling this story, feeling blessed and humbled to have been witness to the power of love working in me, I pray that the scripture that says “we love because He first loved us” does not go trite in my life, or in yours. That the saying “blessed to a blessing” is a lifestyle and not a pretty saying to hang on our walls. Love still CAN speak louder than words, louder than cultural and language barriers and louder than caste systems or classes.
I’ll end this story with a few words from one of my favorite songs:
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith would be made stronger- in the presence of my Savior.” Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong UNITED
Queen, a recent widow and newfound friend of mine: at first impression, she is seemingly shy and reserved. Take another look and you’ll find she is spunky and a fighter. She wears the scarf of one who has lost her husband. She is grieving. He was the sole provider of their family; now leaving her the sole provider of her eight grandchildren. She is burdened. Zambian law gives rights to her husband’s family, not including his widow. She is being told that their land is no longer hers, because it belongs to his family. She is alone.
I would like to say we have easy answers and a quick fix for Queen. We don’t. The issues that Queen is up against are complicated, cultural, and multi-dimensional, and if we want to help create an atmosphere of empowerment for Queen, more and more, we are finding that being encouragers and a support is where our role should be. It’s hard. It’s messy.
I am reminded of a song that Dan wrote… (Abridged version)
Take my love to the Nations…
Show them I care…
Show them I’m there
Take my light to the dark places of this world
Show them I care…
Show them I’m there
Watch their faces turn bright when they turn on that light
And they see that I care
and they know that I’m there
Take my healing to the broken hearted orphan child
Show him I’m there
Show her I care
In her darkest night
I will work for her with all my might
Show her I’m there
Show him I care
Cause if you don’t go
How then will they know?
That I still care
That I’m really
You’re my hands and my feet
You’re my message to this world
To show them I’m there
To show them I care
We ask for prayer and wisdom in finding ways to partner with Queen and her family… for provision and long-term solutions to take care of her and her grandchildren.
“Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meaning.” When Helping Hurts
I have told many people about this book that I’m reading, When Helping Hurts. It’s a book serving to identify what true poverty looks like, from all aspects, in order to be able to discern the best way to help alleviate it. Poverty is not just lack of material possessions. It’s not just about lacking food or shelter or shoes to walk to school. There’s definitely a lot of that kind of poverty here in Zambia and it’s an easy thing to recognize, that’s for sure. But what this book is distinguishing between is the material poverty and the kind of poverty that goes deeper. It goes into the very fiber of who we are and who we were created to be. It’s poverty that keeps us from being able to have compassion on others, or that keeps us broken inside, or that keeps us distant from our Maker.
Living in Africa, it’s very tempting to want to help in visibly large ways! I want to be able to say, “I fed 1,000 people today!” I want those 1,000 people to have food. It’s not a bad thing to want, I believe. But what happens when tomorrow, those same 1,000 people don’t have food again? Do they come together as a community to figure out creative ways to get food, or do they come to us, the “makuah” for the handout? (makuah is white person). My heart would be the former, and not the latter. They are wonderfully intelligent, hard working, and compassionate people. But if we only see the immediate need of giving the handouts as the answer, we are stunting their ability to be whole people, to have the dignity of working and to be creative beings to solve problems and see it through. I am challenged and encouraged by the concepts in this book, and it’s helping me form relationships with the people in the village that is not on a “giver and receiver” basis. Instead, it gives us the ability to have relationships with mutual encouragement, helping each other reach our full potential as loved human beings, created for great things, restored for His glory!
Children of Zambia
“…if you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
With the demeanor of a meak and quiet spirit, with just wispers in his voice, Oliver sits beside me as I teach him English colors and read him some Bible stories. At age 9, Oliver (shown directly below), has been identified as a vulnerable child here in the villages. He and his younger sister, Monde, were both found with no food, in a home with no roof, in a village where they were unwanted. Even by their own mother. Love’s Door for All Nations, the organization we serve with, gladly welcomed them into their Children’s Home with a caring widow, named Hilda who has taken them in amongst her own children. He now has food, shelter, clothing, and school fees, but most importantly, a chance at life, and hope.