Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tomorrow morning I'll continue our current sermon series, "Questions Jesus Asked." This week's question lies in the middle of a famous miracle story, the feeding of the 5000: "What do you have?"

One aspect of the story is the issue of how to respond to staggering need (20,000 hungry people counting women and children, who, in that culture "didn't count" so weren't included in the numeration of 5,000 men) with insufficient resources (a little boy's lunch).

Studying for the story has brought depressing thoughts about the overwhelming suffering in this broken planet we call "home."

Today's mail brought an opportunity to send a note to Fred and Diborah, two African (Ghana) children we have the privilege of supporting. The communication included the following story:

“She was only four when genocide swept across her native Rwanda. ‘We fled our home. It was in the night.’ Her family was captured, and she saw her mother clubbed to death. Her siblings were also murdered. ‘They struck me on my back, but I did not die. I just lay there. I could not stand up, because my back was broken.’

Alice survived. But she was shattered in body and spirit. Her family was gone. She had little hope for a decent future.

By age 14, she was trapped in a ‘job’ that included abusive sexual exploitation. Her innocence was sold for 500 Rwandan francs—less than a dollar.

By God’s grace, Alice managed to escape. Thanks to help from generous friends like you, she was able to survive and go to a school to learn how to be a tailor. She graduated with the highest marks in her class. Taken in by a Christian family, she also turned to the Lord. ‘My faith has helped so much. Before…I lived in loneliness. I lived in self pity. Because of a Christian ministry I have been much blessed. I feel my future is good.'

And yet, her happiness is tinged with sorrow. [Alice says] 'I know there are many street children who are suffering and others living in households who do not have a happy life. I wish those children could be cared for.’”

Reading that reminded me how incredibly blessed I have been, growing up in "Disney Land" (the USA) where I have been pampered and insulated from a degree of suffering all-to-familiar in other parts of the world.

"Forgive me, Lord, for my ignorance and indifference. Help me to know how to place my limited resources in Your hands to multiply help to those in need. Help me to bring little glimpses of renewal into this broken world so others can see pictures of Your coming kingdom at the restoration of all things. Help me to give bread to the hungry as well as introducing the Bread of Life (John 6)."

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