What’s Step 2?

August 1, 2009

hey everyone,

So now that our first $1 a day week is over, I am going to use this blog as a way of telling you about simple challenges, organizations and projects that you can get involved with on various levels.  The goal is to counteract the paralysis of information overload by providing… (drumroll please) more information!!!  ha.

Seriously though, I know what it’s like to read a book about poverty or watch a gripping movie about social injustice and walk away thinking, “Wow, that was sad. I don’t know how to begin to respond, so I think I’ll go home, have a snack, and try not to think about it anymore.”

Today we have more opportunities than ever before to make a positive difference in this world — and we also have unprecedented opportunities to get totally distracted from life with all kinds of toys, addictions, and fantasies imaginable… and miss the whole point. It’s a constant struggle for me to stay focused on Christ. To give up my comfortable routine, my convenient luxuries, my immediate concerns and emotions. To take up my cross and follow Jesus when people around me tell me I’m crazy, I’m risking way too much, it’ll never work. Faith often seems ridiculous to spectators and critics — but then again, so does dancing!

I have a small challenge for all of us today. It seems easy, but it will take a concerted effort. I promise I’ll do it too.

Instead of reading this and then going on Facebook or checking your email or playing games or going to the fridge for a snack, or whatever else you were planning on doing, put down everything in your hands right now. Find a clearing on your floor (which, if you’re anything like me, may be difficult), and kneel down. Close your eyes (after you finish reading this!) and ask God: “God, how do You want me to respond to all that I have seen, read, and heard today?”

Then wait. Be silent. If God puts something on your heart, some way that you can reach out to someone or help another person, do it. It may sound silly, or it may sound difficult, or it may be very humbling. It may also be incredibly simple. Take one step at a time.

Ready… set…

Let’s go.  🙂

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“…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”  – Amos 5:24

“Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”  – Proverbs 21:13

I’d like to share the words for a song I’m in the process of writing.  It’s still quite a work in progress (and it looks a bit funny here on paper without the music), but it’s the best way I can capture what I’m feeling about this whole journey.

For those of you who are non-Christians: “the body of Christ” is a phrase commonly used to describe the church, in part because our calling is to reach out to broken and hurting people in the same way Jesus did — and thus be His hands and feet.

HIDE AND SEEK

(by Vanessa Dyck)

How do I fit you in
To my world of business suits and office chairs
To my two-storey house on a cul-de-sac
And my idea of what is fair
You live so far away
From my chocolate cakes and coffee breaks
But I think of you when my stomach aches
Of your dark eyes and the storms inside
And your tiny hopeful face

And I’m hiding, cause I’m troubled by what I see
But I’m seeking, cause it doesn’t make sense to me

How could we be the body of Christ
And not answer
The cries of a world that’s pleading
for the hope that we can give

How could we be the body of Christ
And not rescue
The widows and the orphans
With the abundance we’ve received

When will we be the body of Christ?

Let’s play hide-and-seek
I’ll hide you in the TV screen and flip the channels aimlessly
Or take a different road when you’re bleeding in the ditch
Sometimes I hear a preacher speak
About your needs and how you’re unreached
But I don’t know what to do
Cause there’s so much stuff I’ve got to lose
And this Good News I have makes me nervous too

So I’m hiding, cause I’m troubled by what I see
But I’m seeking, cause it doesn’t make sense to me

And I wonder will God forgive us for our closets full of clothes
For our overpriced expansion plans and the starving nation’s bones
Will we pray He looks the other way while we build our fancy homes

Or will we be the body of Christ
And answer
The cries of this generation
With the hope that Jesus gives

When will we be the body of Christ
And let go of
Our money and possessions
To find the life we’re made to live

When will we be the body of Christ?

Last night we watched the movie Faith like Potatoes. It’s based on a true story about a Scottish farmer in South Africa (Angus Buchan) who has what most of us would consider ridiculous faith in God. But the problem isn’t with him; it’s with us!

He prays for things and they happen — not because he’s anything great, but because he simply asks God and trusts in Him.  That humble yet courageous faith inspires me.  I think we would see a lot more miracles in our lives if we had two things: true faith in God and true dependence on Him. I’m not saying suffering and difficulties wouldn’t happen — but when they did come, we would see them much differently.

I find it so amazing that God listens to us.  And all we need is “a broken and contrite heart.” Humility. No wonder God loves the poor and the outcasts so much.

Before I read Yohannan’s book, I had a much different view of this question.  I had thought it was arrogant to offer people the hope of Jesus when they were starving and in poverty.  I had thought poverty was primarily a physical need, not a spiritual one.

But Yohannan, who himself grew up in poverty, doesn’t respond the way I’d expected.  Moreover, what he says is so convincing, it changed my set-in-stone opinion.  I’d encourage you to read his book for an in-depth response — you can order a free copy of it from Gospel for Asia’s website: http://www.gfa.org.

By the way, I’d just like to note that I’m not affiliated with GFA; I’ve just been inspired by their ministry and I’d like to encourage you to check it out.

As Yohannan emphasizes, poverty is a spiritual problem.  He has a chapter called “The Real Culprit: Spiritual Darkness.”  Perhaps from an outsider’s view, or a non-Christian viewpoint, this statement seems quite bold.  But he has evidence to back it up.  My own scepticism at first revealed to me that many of us in the Western World are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because we ourselves have not understood it.  We are afraid of the words “demonic oppression” and we make light of spiritual warfare and witchcraft.  Yes, those words have been abused in some circles and manipulated and contorted by the media — but you can’t read through any of the 4 Gospels without encountering numerous references to them.  Spiritual darkness runs rampant in our nation, too — and, dare I say it, in our churches.  Our own spiritual darkness comes in the form of selfishness, greed, materialism, and pride.  Maybe that’s why two thirds of the world is starving while we’re buying more stuff.

I also think Yohannan is saying is that it’s time for us to recognize that food and money alone cannot break poverty on a national level.  We have to share the hope and freedom that Jesus brings first, because it is of eternal value.  Then we need to give food and clothing and aid, because it is of value here on earth.  He shares stories of people who have received physical healing from the name of Jesus.  And he shares many stories of a vibrant, active, praying and persecuted church like the one in Acts, where miracles happen daily.

That’s where the rest of GFA’s mission comes in.  They send out missionaries who are native to the area, who live on $1 a day, to reach people in the 10/40 window who have never heard about Jesus.  All of the money designated towards those missionaries goes straight to them, and they are able to communicate with villagers in their own language, through their own culture.  They also face intense obstacles and persecution, and do not raise their standard of living after receiving support through GFA.

I have to go to bed, but here are some statistics for those of you who are numerically inclined:

4,845 of the world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the Bible.
In India, 40,000 people die every day without hearing the gospel even once.
Only 0.1% of all christian radio and tv programming is directed toward the unevangelized world.
More than 2 billion people have never heard the gospel or had access to it.

That’s why this dollar a day challenge is supporting GFA — because they are reaching the most unreached through the native missionary movement.  GFA has “more than 16,500 national missionaries in the heart of the 10/40 window, operates 54 Bible colleges in several nations, and heads up a church-planting movement that has planted more than 29,000 congregations.”

Peace out.  🙂