Thursday, June 7, 2007

Walk the Talk, Part Two

I’m not sure when I started doing this, but my mind often jumps from my present activity (whatever I’m doing at the moment) to the millions of women around the world who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to do the same thing as easily, as comfortably or maybe even at all. I guess it comes partly from living in Kenya and getting to know African and South Asian women there, partly from reading the international news as well as books about what life is like women in other cultures (have you requested your free copy of True Grit yet?) and partly from looking at Matt’s photos when he returns from a trip, hearing him tell about the people he meets on assignment.

For instance: It may look like I’m just digging in the garden, adding compost to the soil so I can plant lettuce and carrot seeds, but my mind is wrapped up in thinking about women in Kenya who do the same thing but without any enriching nutrients for the soil, without a water faucet anywhere for miles and without any assurance of rain. They plant as many rows as they can afford to fill with seeds, desperately hoping to harvest enough food for their families for the coming year, while I’m just clearing a small place along one side of the fence, hoping to have fun watching my kids discover how things grow and to save a little money at the grocery store this summer. For me this is a new hobby, a form of entertainment. For them, it's a matter of survival.

That’s just an example, but you get the idea. It’s not that I like dwelling on depressing things, but I am growing increasingly aware that (as an American woman of my generation, living at this time in history in a place like England) I’m incredibly, overwhelmingly, inexplicably blessed -- incredibly, overwhelmingly, inexplicably more than the vast majority of women in the world. And because I believe that God brings these things to my mind for a reason, I bring them back to Him in prayer. It’s all I can do at the moment.

When I’m watering the garden, I pray for adequate rainfall in places like Africa where countless lives depend upon it. When I pray over Jack and Sophie at bedtime, I pray for the mothers who watch helplessly as their children suffer from preventable diseases and malnutrition. When I look in on them asleep in their beds, I can’t help but pray for all the little ones all over the world who lack the love and care my babies swim in every day.

When Matt brings me flowers, I pray for women trapped in abusive relationships who’ve never experienced the tenderness of a man. When I get into a hot shower, I pray for the women in refugee camps around the world who will never know such luxury. When I drink cold water from the tap at my kitchen sink, I pray for those who have to walk for miles to carry dirty, disease-infested river water home to their families.

This is not because of any shred of saintliness on my part but simply because, if I was the one going through such hell-on-earth, I’d want someone to deliver me from it. And, especially as a mother, I feel a responsibility to do something -- to act in defense of those who are defenseless.

So as I find myself praying for the vulnerable ones of the world, I beg God to send strong, righteous people to intervene, to be their voice and their defender, to make a difference in their lives -- both in the here and in the hereafter. I have no idea why God allows rampant suffering on such a broad scale, but I believe that He intends for us who Have to reach out and help those who Have-Not.

That’s why I get really excited whenever I hear about people I know who are getting involved in some of these very things! Stepping out of their comfort zone. Doing unto others. Putting their faith into action. Walking the Talk.

Check out the websites on my sidebar. Some of these blogs are by friends who take Jesus seriously enough to:

• Raise their two small boys in a mud hut in Southern Sudan so that local Christians can be trained to carry out the Great Commission in their communities
• Live among and minister to prostitutes in the biggest slum of La Paz, Bolivia
• Return to Kenya with their son and daughter to pour themselves into the lives of children whose parents serve as missionaries throughout Africa
• Be a servant and travel the world for a year in order to catch a vision of what it means to live in obedience to Christ
• Volunteer to travel to Zambia and train local Christians in methods of dealing with human waste that can prevent the spread of disease and the contamination of drinking water sources

I don’t know how God may use me to help alleviate global suffering in years to come, but right now while I’m home with our kids, He’s giving me a hunger to learn more about the needs of women and children around the world, and He’s teaching me to pray, pray, pray.

I’m so deeply thankful for the people I know (and the many more I don’t) who are the specific answers to my prayers.

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As the Scriptures say, "Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten." (2 Corinthians 9:9 NLT)

I'll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! (Isaiah 58:6 CEV)

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up, judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8,9 NIV)

Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly My disciples if you keep obeying My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8: 31-32 NLT)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 NASB)

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