Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just Look (Poverty and the Gospel I)

I'm on a journey--it's taking me to Africa March 24 where I'm going to meet some very poor people in Korah (a part of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia). There are children, I'm told, who live in a city dump. Imagine that--to live in the dump!

I have an imagination and immediately my mind goes toward children living in the landfill off County Road in west Marietta, Georgia. The county jail is right next to the landfill, and the car tag office next to that. When we took our driving test we hoped for a day when the wind was blowing "the other way." You could smell the dump before you actually saw it. No one wants to be anywhere near a dump--much less IN one!

But I cannot even imagine what life is like in a city dump that serves the capital city of Ethiopia! I've heard that the children first went there to forage for food. Imagine that. Yesterday I tossed a coffee grinder into the trash, this afternoon I added some week old vegetable soup, month old cheese dip and bones from last night's grilled steak. Let's say these things end up in the "dump" next week. I would imagine resourceful kids might actually make a less than decent meal off of them--and might even find a way to either fix--or use the old coffee bean grinder.

But I live in Williamson County, TN--one of the wealthiest counties in the nation! These children are poking about in what Ethiopians call "garbage." Isn't Ethiopia where I've seen pictures of starving children? What do Ethiopians collect in their dumps?!?

God has invited me on a journey. First He invited me to a fast--a week long fast. I'd never not eaten for an entire week! Not even when I've suffered stomach disorders...I've never been that disordered! But the last week of January He invited me and Tom to do what we'd never done before and one day I'll blog about that experience. But it was on the 3rd day of my fast that I heard God clearly invite me to Korah. Sumer's going back and I'm going with her (and 6 other people God invited on this trip).

She asked us to read "Fields of the Fatherless" by Tom Davis ( But before I read that I read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I know, the whole world's already read this book and I'm way behind. Francis Chan took a similar trip with God--and when he took a field trip to poverty, he came back changed. Sumer reminded us last Wednesday at our team meeting that we will be changed too. I'm also reading a biography of Hudson Taylor (missionary to China in the mid 1800's). Before he ever left England to live in China, Hudson Taylor took a vow of poverty. He wanted to "train" himself to be ready for his mission field. As I read the various hardships that Hudson Taylor and the other missionaries experienced I am humbled. All of this reading is part of my journey. God is preparing me for a new place in my life.

I've known--for a very long time that people die of starvation. I've known for a very long time that people have no way of hearing the name of Jesus--or knowing how much He loves them. And I've gone to where they are occasionally; Nicaragua, India, Japan, China, Mexico, New Orleans, Houston, Techwood in Atlanta, GA, and now I'm going to Ethiopia. This time is different. This time God has not invited me to take a peek into darkness. This time He's invited me to take a long hard look.

I want to look away. I want to close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and hum "kum ba ya." But He's holding my head in the palm of His hands and whispering in my ear--"Look. These are MY CHILDREN! I love them like you love Mikel, Kaleigh and TJ. Just look."

I'll keep you posted...


Melissa Lee said...

I left Sumer a comment on her blog that if she needed someone to come and sing to the children then just say the word - and I'd be there. And I would!!

I've kept up with everything you all have written. I am so proud of you all and Sumer and TSC. I would hold them and sing to them if you thought it might help...but I figure it wouldn't.

Love you all,

Big Nanny said...

You're going on quite a field trip. A lot of moms are taking first time mission "field trips" this year and will see real poverty for the first time...God is up to something!

FYI-I'll probably go back to Africa in 2011 and take a bunch of first time mission trip moms on a field trip. Please remind me to call and invite Melissa Radke;)