I woke up today with the sound of raining hitting the thatched roof above my head. I am in a lodge in Rumbek, South Sudan on my way to Wau, South Sudan with World Concern. World Concern is a Christian Humanitarian Aide organization based out of Seattle, WA working in the most remote, poverty-stricken villages in the world. I knew that. I knew the tag line "Witness the Transformation" and I knew that the work was unique because the ultimate goal was not simply relief aide, but helping remote villages become sustainable on their own. But I just didn't get it. As is the case with most ethically, morally, and spiritually complicated issues we face in our lives, we can have an idea of what we think and believe- but our thoughts and beliefs are always so small until we stand face to face with the actual issue, in our own lives. Yesterday I stood face to face with World Concerns missions "reaching people in the most remote corners of the earth." The people. The poverty. The possibility. I often found myself thinking of the very last thing Jesus spoke out loud here on planet earth to his followers: Go to the ends of the earth, preaching and baptizing in my name. His name, Jesus, was synonymous with healer. Giver of life. He preached loving the outcast, caring for the widow, feeding the poor- going to the ends of the earth and preaching his gospel. And his gospel was always aimed at the least of these. To the rich, he said, sell it all. And many left his side sad. I wondered yesterday if Jesus meant Rumbek, South Sudan when he talked about the ends of the earth. If he meant that one, long, long bumpy road with chickens, lizards, goats, cows and baboons roaming freely- if he meant the people who live here in the bush- literally in thatched huts, bathing in the same water as their animals, living off the land and fighting diseases that no human should ever have to fight. Did he mean, come here? Preach his gospel of love and healing- here in South Sudan? In the most remote villages in this world?
Here's what struck me the most about yesterday: Humanity is so similar, no matter how remote. It is beautiful here and there is so much potential. There is a lot of work to be done. By the government, by other governments, by the UN and NGO's and other humanitarians. And there will always be questions of our role- as Westerners, as Christians, as a foreigners being welcomed into a different land. This is complicated. It always is, isn't it? But at the end of the day, I drove on the most horrendous pot-holed, dirt roads for 9 hours yesterday and I watched people. The children are much like my Annie. Show-offs! They wave at cars, smile and dance for cars. They swim and splash each other with water (albeit in dirty ponds). The old men gather and smoke and talk. The women laugh and work and watch. The people are still people. A million miles away, many untouched by modern civilization- and yet we would each fit in here. And that is the one part of this equation that is not complicated. People are people. Whether they have a spear in their hand and tribal scars on their forehead or they live in Nashville, TN. We share the same creator. And we are created in God's image. And we are much the same. We laugh, cry, grieve. fight against injustice, play. love, make babies, bury our dead, put food on the table... pray. I am in one of the most remote places in the world. But I feel at home. Love is not complicated. Neither are the final words of Jesus- Go. Love. Baptize.
By supporting the work of World Concern- you can be apart of something complex and hard and complicated- transforming remote, poverty stricken villages. But really, it's simple. You are choosing to partner with people just like you- parents and families who want the same thing for their sweet kids and communities- food. shelter. love. life. hope. And that's not complicated. Please join me and make a donation today.