Monday, February 13, 2012

How can we make a difference

I have had an amazing week.  There has been so much to consider.  It started by meeting a man who asked thought provoking questions.  He is a free spirit who has plenty and yet doesn't have much interest in money.  He wants to do something to make a difference in people's lives.  He started by building schools out of plastic pop bottles in small villages in South America.  No fooling, the whole community works hard to fill the bottles with trash and then they are used like bricks to build a school.  It's a great idea, not just because it is an inexpensive way to build a school but also because it requires a huge effort by those who will use the school. Who would mar a school that you build with your own sweat and blood?  By the end of the project, people also have the knowledge to build again if they want to. But, the question was asked, were these people really helped?  We teach reading, writing and science, all things that will get you ahead in our culture but what do people really need to know to thrive right where they are? Does it help people to thrive when we give them tools to be like us? 

I once went on a mission trip to build houses in Mexico.  We, the totally inexperienced Americans, built a two room home in three days.  I know that the people were grateful but I was saddened by the things we Americans arrogantly assumed.  We treated these people's poverty like a freak show.  We took pictures to stir pity in the hearts of those left behind like we were the benevolent "haves" and they were the pitiable "have nots".  I am not convinced.  We had money and time and the need to feel good about ourselves.  But the people we served seemed to have much more.  They were a loving family in a community that was cohesive and I think happy.  They knew how to laugh, and dance and sing.  We were not their betters.

There is a Church in Southern California, I have forgotten the name of the preacher but he writes a book called "Do Something!" I want to, but I don't want to do something worthless. I want to do something intelligent. inspired. So God, where do I start?  What will really make a difference?  I don't want to help people become like me.  I want to help people become like you.  What does it mean to "Go and make disciples?"  I believe that is a totally different cause altogether. 

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