Ethiopia. I can’t do it.
Last night I was up until 12:30am (a huge feat for someone who wrestles to make it until 10 most nights) just thinking about things. I had just read an article about Doctors Without Borders setting up a site in Tariku’s hometown in Ethiopia. I was thrilled to hear it but saddened at the same time. If they actually had to set up shop there then things are even worse than I had thought. Check out my friend Rebekah’s post on Plumpy’nut, good reads. (She’s of the “All to Love” fame on the sidebar).
So within about 4 hours I had decided I was a) going to become a doctor just so I could join DWB or b) sell everything in the house on ebay to pay for a trip to Ethiopia to volunteer with someone changing lives over there. After a talk down from my enthusiastic (ahem) husband, I recovered.
It’s interesting, as the commenter from the previous post noted (thanks!), there are MILLIONS of ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Zach asked me why I don’t go volunteer at homeless shelters in the area or battered woman’s shelters. It’s a good question, certainly there are lots of places in our community who could use a gal like me. But I honestly don’t believe in coincidences when it comes to my restlessness over Ethiopia. I do believe God speaks to us all differently and He turns some people on to the local communities need and others to Africa or what have you. But it does get a bit overwhelming to try to do it all. I’ve volunteered for many different organizations, served on a few Board of Directors, what have you. I’ve hammered nails for Habitat, done things like that. But none of that has come close to keeping me up at night like this has. God is not whispering to me about this, he’s smashing me in the face with a 2×4. It would certainly be easier (in some respects) and cheaper to be this passionate about the community but I truly believe in a bigger, worldy community and certainly bringing Tariku home has made Ethiopia our home as well.
I read a great book, “The Irresistable Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. Here’s just a few of my many favorite tidbits.
–“Managing poverty is big business. Ending poverty is revolutionary. Too often, the church has chaplained the corporate global economy, caring for the victims of the systems. As long as we uncritically manage the collateral damage of the market economy, the world can continue to produce victims. But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said during his age of injustice, ‘ We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.'”
–“Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, can also function as outlets that allow us to appease our consciences and still remain a safe distance from the poor.” (This one probably hit a little too close to home if you ask me)
–“I’m convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was not created by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves. Gandhi put it well when he said, ‘There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.'”
–“It is risky, and yet we are people of faith, believing that giving is more contagious than hoarding, that love can convert hatred, light can overcome darkness, grass can pierce concrete.”
–“With new eyes, we can see that our family is both local and global, including but transcending biology, tribe, or nationality, a renewed vision of the kin-dom of God with brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Iraq, Sudan and Burma, North Philly and Beverly Hills. Any vision short of that is too myopic for Jesus whose own biological family called him crazy for saying things that disrupted traditional family values.”
There really are many more. I try to channel my inner Jesus (she’s tucked WAAAAY down sometimes) in my daily interactions with folks here. I try to be nice to everyone I train or teach, do other things that would just sound silly and miniscule in this blog but things I hope are making a difference nonetheless. It’s the hard stuff. The Ethiopian stuff. The stuff like the fact that I am a world away, that my heart is presently straddling two different nations, that kind of stuff that makes it hard. God has made me very uncomfortable and I know it’s not a coincidence. I have some ideas, all of them making me very uncomfortable but would it be worth it if it weren’t?