I went out and got some wood, started a fire, brewed a cup of peppermint tea, and sat down with a new book. I finished Wobegon earlier today. I left home yesterday knowing I'd probably finish it so I tossed the next book in my purse just for good measure. There's always reading to be done.
I'm about a fifth of the way through now, and I am absolutely convinced you need to read this book. It is a collection of essays, compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands, and it was given to me at the Mobilizing Medical Missions conference last weekend when I attended a seminar on Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy in the Developing World. The essays are written by men and women from vast and varied callings, occupations, and places in the world--all uniting under one banner: Worldwide Maternal and Infant Health. Jim Wallis, Jenny Allen, Natalie Grant, Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, Jennifer Nettles, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu...the list approaches fifty unique voices and writing styles.
One of my greatest passions is teaching & mobilizing. I have this constant nagging voice that says you can help a few--maybe a thousand--but if instead you teach & mobilize a few--a thousand--to teach a few, a thousand more...the impact will be a million-fold. So when I read David Steven's essay "Transforming the World," I got so excited. He and one nurse convinced a few local Kenyan volunteers to become Community Health Leaders. They were then each asked to recruit 7 volunteers to be trained under them, to go into the villages (each volunteer covered 100 huts) and encourage every household to change FIVE behavioral health practices (build a latrine, eliminate standing water, immunize their children, space their pregnancies, and have a source of clean water). The organization now reaches a million people through local volunteer efforts and has SINGLEHANDEDLY eliminated many of the preventable diseases Dr. Stevens was treating in his mission hospital just five years ago.
You guys. We do not have to be paralyzed by the needs in the world. Get your feet wet Upstream, roll in the mud a little Downstream--we need people of all kinds in both places. The one place we are forbidden by God is the place of indifference.
When the earthquake stuck Haiti in 2010, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and 1.5 million people were made homeless. The downstream people raced around Port-au-Prince in all sorts of fashion and many others flew in from all ends of the earth. And they did what they could to help injured people strewn all over Port. And the upstreamers sat at home or in their university offices and determined that the earthquake DIDN’T really kill people and make them homeless. They determined that bad construction, faulty zoning, widespread corruption, and a feudal land owning system were the culprits.
And both groups were right. (The people who really don’t care didn’t know about the earthquake…)
The bottom line is that the upstreamers and downstreamers need to get along and respect each other. Sincere people from both groups are trying to better the lot of Haitians. Both groups are fallible. But we are not enemies. The real enemy is indifference.
John A. Carroll, MD
Full essay available here.
I have a good friend named FeeFee in Haiti. She pops popcorn every day for her kids. I pop popcorn for my kids when they come home from school. She pops popcorn and sells it bag by bag for her kids to be able to go to school. FeeFee's kids don't need sponsorship. She's taking are of them. What FeeFee needs is not for us to come in and rescue her with our money.
We mistake people for projects. We mistake need for weakness. We mistake struggle for pity. If you teach a woman to fish or sew or pop popcorn and turn her loose, watch the pride that wells, the stories that are built, the children who are unleashed, the countries that are restored. She needs men and women in the body of Christ to help lift her head and remind her, on those really discouraging days, that she is taking care of her own people. Because that woman is proud that she takes care of her own people. We need to be thinking of ways to come alongside women's passion to care for their families.
Women and men of faith, let's take care of the mommas. Because we will take care of all the babies when we do. The fight against the oppression of women is in the lifting of heads. I want to be a head lifter. I think that's why God put me on earth, and I think that's why God put you on earth too--to lift heads to see that there's a God who loves you and esteems you and does not see you as inferior.
We have the opportunity to meet needs, but it will start in small ways. It will start by believing in other women. It will start by building relationships and not throwing solutions at problems. It will start by being brave enough to obey God--whatever it is He is calling you to do.
Let's let our generation's legacy be that we loved really well--that we loved this world really well. And we actually got to be a part of releasing and engaging and empowering women to change their own communities.
But extravagant love isn't usually very comfortable. It looks a lot like loving enemies and risking humiliation and embracing the fact that the world is NOT safe and that my life is not more valuable than my neighbor's.
I saw Bob Goff a few times last weekend, and he kept reminding us:
"You don't save people to Jesus. Jesus saves people to Jesus."
THAT is freeing me. Jesus saves people. Period. All my little boxes of safety and comfort and saying the right things at the right times--I can be free from all of that. I don't have to worry. I'm asked to love extravagantly, sacrificially, and then wait for Jesus Christ Himself to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts.
And so, I am free to live on mission and to make a dent in the preventable problems plaguing our kind. So are you.
I think if we start with Mothers (and I believe every woman, childless or childbearing, has a Mother's heart), we'll watch a world of healing unfold begin to grow...igniting Life.