The hardest part of my job in trying to bring relief to people in Ethiopia is the ability to make those of us in the American culture relate to their hardships. Frankly, it is almost impossible.
I can tell you a story about walking past a child digging for food in the trash dump and you sympathize because it is sad, but you can’t truly comprehend it. Some people will feel compelled to help or sponsor a child, and then for some, it just doesn’t register. And I don’t blame anyone for not being able to comprehend it. How could you? Our culture is as far removed from this type of third world suffering as we can be. We are eaten up with consumption and the idea that the more stuff we have the happier we will be. Therefore we strive for bigger and better and newer and the latest this or that. We work hard so we can have more, achieve more, and work our way up the ladder. So what would make us stop in our tracks and think of those less fortunate? We have government programs, churches, and nonprofits that help those in need in our country. Therefore it gives us the right to carry on about our business because we can trust that someone will have compassion and take care of those less fortunate.
So then how can those of us who DO go and see it for ourselves truly ever relay the severity of the need in a way that promotes action? How can I convince you that serving outside of your comfort zone, giving to those who could never repay you, and taking some of what you have been blessed with and actually giving it away to bless another is by far one of the best things you can do for you and your family?
I find myself saying, “There are no words” a lot when I am walking through a fly infested, mud filled, garbage dump, as I step over the remains of a rotting animal, or jump over a filth invested creek in the middle of this landfill that is home to an entire community. There is the smell of sewage mixed with animal decay. The children are so used to it that they don’t even flinch at the flies that land on their face, while everything in me wants to swipe away every one of them and scream, “This is not normal!” But how can I say that? This is THEIR normal. They live it day in, and day out. And can I tell you that it helps MY “normal” to step into theirs, if even for only a moment. It jerks me out of this fog that I live in within this bubble of what I think reality is. It wakes me up! And then as the fog clears I can’t help but see past the filth and the rubble of the surroundings and truly see the faces of the people that I am serving. Their hearts are not hardened or bitter about the lot that they have been given in life. Their smiles are pure gold! Their thankfulness for simply our presence as we take time to visit them drops me to my knees because on the outside one would ask “what do they have to be thankful for?” But yet they have learned what is truly important in life. And that is life itself. Each day of it.
I recently read an excerpt from a blog by Ann Voskamp. She put into words the feelings I have struggled to relay. She described how it made her feel to see such struggles and I felt it was a perfect description.
…when I’m standing there witnessing a kid at the city dump looking for something to eat from a garbage heap, I’m feeling this North American bloated. I’m feeling a little sickened, a little nauseated by the meringue and sprinkles and icing we’re stuffing ourself with that leaves us faith emaciated. There’s a kid looking through rotting garbage for food, for crying out loud!
And the stuff they are shilling out in all the commercials is always only one thing: appetite suppressants. Buy more, consume more, have more.
My head feels light, spinny:
Is craving North American success just craving normal appetite suppressants? When your comfort food is comfortable stuff—– when do you hunger for God?
Do you want to feel close to God? Then simply help those less fortunate.
Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.”
God literally takes your kindness to the poor and considers it as if you were doing it for Him. Think about that.
Here are some videos of some of my time in the trash dump community where I serve in Ethiopia. I can assure you that sponsorship changes lives, breaks the cycle of poverty, and sets these kids on track to change the course of generations. Each sponsorship provides a monthly food package which keeps the mothers and children from having to dig through the trash, it provides education for the children which is their key to success, and medical access for all. If interested in sponsoring a child through my organization, Ordinary Hero, please CLICK HERE.
Let’s not be comfortable with the meringue, sprinkles and icing we have been stuffing ourselves with that leaves us faith emaciated and lacking purpose. We all have the power to simply show kindness, love others, and help those less fortunate no matter where we live. My calling happens to be in Ethiopia. Will you join me and CHANGE THE WORLD FOR ONE?