What’s wrong with This Picture?

DSC_5568I just spent a week in Ndola, Zambia.  If one just drives through some of the poorer communities, as we did, you are filled with guilt, compassion, and sorrow.  We in America think we know how fortunate we are, but until you see firsthand how others on the same planet live you really don’t know the depth of our fortune.

This trip wasn’t just to drive through their communities, but to get out and to walk among them.  To talk, to listen, to build relationships that encourage, and to make sure their hope continues.  We were careful not to promise them resources that would be a strain to sustain, for that would be helping that hurts.  The perfect plan to change someone else’s living conditions is to find ways to get those that live there to come up with the plans that will change their lives, change their communities.

Building those relationships started out slow, but by mid-week bonds were beginning to form.  Smiles begin showing up on faces that on day one were not there.  It was strange being in a community where you were the first mazunga, “white” person some of the kids had ever seen.  I have recently learned there are three things that crosses any boundary; love, laughter and God.

DSC_5473By the end of our week some tears were shed as we cDSC_5524elebrated God together and said our goodbyes.  A lot had been accomplished as we visited each church of the seven in Fubuku.  As we led a bible study in spiritual gifts, as we “tried” to stucco a mill house, and as we moved most of the 3000 concrete blocks into positions so those who did know what they were doing could put them in place.  As we did some home visits to those who were HIV positive, or the widow who was raising 10 orphans on her own.  This group of God believing, God fearing Zambians find ways to survive, not just
every month, but every day.

DSC_5150We feel our goal of building relationships was accomplished.  We even gave them a DSC_5309picture of a person from my church section with their name, so they could pray for them.  Then likewise we took their pictures holding up the photo of the one they selected.  The response to this was overwhelming.  They stood in a line, some for 30 minutes waiting for their turn to be photographed.

Yes, there is a lot wrong with the picture of their lives, their schools, or lack of, but today their hope is stronger than ever as they now know there are disciples of Christ who live 8252 miles away, who are praying for them, love them, and who believe in them.

If you haven’t seen it yet check out the short video of our trip:

https://www.facebook.com/206Saturdays/videos/483025878547210/

Helping Without Hurting

hwhstm-lg-coverI have mentioned this philosophy in a couple of blogs of “helping without hurting”.  I wanted to share a little more about it.

One person on a recent mission trip came back and reported the locals despised the Americans who came to build them a church.  Instead of working with the locals they took over and sure enough built a church building in one week.  So why were the locals upset?  Because the week the Americans were there, they were unemployed.  This is a great example of “help that hurts.”

There is a way of helping without hurting, but first you should understand some principles.

  1. Recognize that we are all poor.  When Adam and Eve sinned mankind fell out with God, with each other, with themselves, and with their world.  We all became poor.
  1. We in America, a lot of times, will describe poverty as not having material possessions. Someone in real poverty will likely describe poverty as embarrassing, failure, shame, and hopelessness.
  1. Know that we here in America are not superior to anyone else. Wealth is not measured in the things you own (or paying the bank for each month).  Not in the size of your house or the cost of your car.  True wealth is measured in the strength of your relationships with God, yourself, others, and with your world.
  1. You can actually make someone feel worse when you give them, or someone in their household something they cannot provide themselves.
  1. You help someone else by building a relationship with them. Once that is established you can encourage them, show you believe in them.  This gives them hope, and self-esteem.  This will help give them the confidence they need to find their own way out of poverty.  Jesus modeled this for us.  He didn’t come to give material things to people, but instead He said things like “I came to you”, “I accept you” which are relationship building words.

If you want to get your hands on the same resources I am learning from you can go to:  https://www.chalmers.org/

When you begin to understand what real poverty is you will begin to see it everywhere, and not just think of poverty as something in 3rd world countries.  It is time we start helping without hurting.