Jesus, the only person in history who could actually chose the time and place of His birth chose a birth to a teen mother in an open air barn in a society that was anything but stable. It was a society whose women had to retrieve water because they didn’t have running water. It was a society plagued by violence and uprising and an oppressive government. In short, it was a society not unlike Africa in many ways.
Interesting that He didn’t chose America in 2008. We at least have air conditioning; and the internet would have been helpful in getting his message out. Perhaps He didn’t know about the power of viral videos? Perhaps He knew all about those things and just like the Word says; His ways are above mine. Maybe He understood some things about poverty that I just can’t get my mind wrapped around, or for that matter don’t want to.
When we pulled up to the facility my initial thoughts were this place is so remote, so downtrodden. There were half finished buildings. There was no running water that I could see. There were lots of open air facilities, cows tied to trees, chickens running free, and children everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
It seemed like the kind of place that I would pray that God never sends me to. Surely you have prayed that too. “God please don’t send me to Africa”. In fact, I vividly remember when I was 17 years old in Guatemala having moments that I didn’t want to enjoy it too much because I was afraid God would call me there full time. Maybe you haven’t prayed prayers like that. Welcome to my shallow heart.
And yet this facility was the answer to prayer for hundreds of mothers and babies whose very lives were in grave danger before finding this place.
It suddenly looked beautiful to me. It looked amazing. Those chickens and cows were their grocery stores; they were their survival. Those buildings housed classes to teach these young mothers how to take care of their babies so they wouldn’t die of simple diseases you and I take for granted. This places was full of the Lord. It was stunning.
This place is known as a CPS, short for Child Survival Program. The title is very simple, utilitarian and does not even remotely capture the beauty of what is going on. Compassion International figured out that the infant mortality rate was so poor that babies were dying at an alarming rate before they ever had a chance to be taken care of by the sponsorship programs. CPS was created to save babies lives.
In the middle of perfect poverty I met some of the happiest children today. They were singing songs for us, one of which had the words “Thank you Jesus for all you’ve done for me”. It occurred to me that when I hear those words, they are mostly metaphorical and spiritual in nature. When I hear the words that Jesus came to “give me life” it is in much the same way. For these children, these words are really quite literal. They take on a whole different meaning.
I guess in many ways it redefines rescue for me. It’s not so much a lowering of expectations as it is of broadening them. God is here in Africa. I saw Him today.
I understood today why it is so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. These children who have nothing to begin with have no problem with the idea that they must lose their life to find it. The call for sacrificial living is a no brainer when you have nothing to sacrifice. In essence, the gospel is indeed good news to them. If you’re in America the call to sacrifice, to give your life to the Lord, to follow Him is not especially an easy one and it requires a certain; well Jesus said it best: “counting the cost”.
I spoke with a boy named Fred whose father died of AIDS when he was very little. Compassion, partnered with a local church program quite literally saved his life. He is still poor, his father is still dead and he goes to school only because of the child sponsorship program. Fred is 18 and I asked him what he wants to do when he gets out of school.
Without hesitation Fred told me he wanted to help other people like he was helped.
He said it was his dream.
Of course programs like this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the prosperity that exists in the United States. It was not lost on me that almost 70% of the sponsorships for this particular program originated from the US. (followed by United Kingdom and Australia). I’m not suggesting that everyone is called to be here.
I guess what I’m suggesting is that we all have a part to play in this. Maybe Freds dream can become all of ours. Maybe we’re not all called to be right on the front lines, but someone has to be filling the supply lines. That’s definitely the calling of Conduit. We’re funneling resources to the front lines. And the beauty of the simple expectations that exist in places like Africa and Haiti is that our supplies go a lot further. We can help so many more.
I posted some pics on the facebook of my first day. I put up some pics of my little buddy Waswah. He is 18 months old has a twin sister and his father died from Aids. His mother is taking care of him and his sister through Compassion International. He cried every time I put him down so I just decided to carry him around off and on all day. Eventually he fell asleep in my arms for about an hour. When I left I told him I know he won’t remember me, but I will never forget him. I meant it.