Africa, Rich People, and a Shot of Perspective


Perspective is a funny thing. Nothing about us changes, but it changes us.

My husband and three other pastors from Life.Church joined one of our global mission partners, Samaritan’s Purse, on a trip over the big pond and into the third-world country of Liberia, Africa.

They flew on a cargo plane loaded down with medical supplies to be used in a newly constructed hospital. They got to see how Samaritan’s Purse is supporting many women and children turned widows and orphans after the devastating Ebola crisis—which killed over 4,000 Liberians within a few short months. They also witnessed how a village can be transformed by being resourced and educated on turning a mud hole, once shared with animals, into permanent clean drinking water.

Samaritan’s Purse provides physical and spiritual aide around the world in Jesus’ name. They realize that meeting physical needs has some value (you can’t share the life-changing message of Jesus with someone who’s dead), but spiritual health is the bottom line.

We Americans might not feel rich, but we are rich. Most of us live in a world of luxury, climate-controlled environments, and on-demand resources. (And if you think that’s not you: Do you own a vehicle? Well congrats. You are considered wealthy.)

We have grocery stores while most of Liberia does not. We can go to restaurants where other people will serve us, cook for us, and clean up after us. We have clean water IN OUR HOMES and sewage lines that flush waste AWAY FROM OUR HOMES—but many places in the world cannot imagine what that’s like. We have magic machines that wash and dry our clothes/dishes. Our trash mysteriously vanishes from the curb on certain days of the week. We have “metal horses on wheels” and paved roads and mowed lawns and education systems and vacuumed carpet and Amazon and Starbucks. We have the freedom to chase after our dreams, while a good portion of the world either does not have that right or does not dream beyond survival.

We are far from a perfect country, but we are rich. Yet we still have the same spiritual problem—just masked with more plastic and makeup. No matter how pretty we look or how perfectly we arrange our lives, we are still broken and fading on our own. But we are more than dying bodies who spend our earthly hours on Pinterest and in football stadiums. We are eternal souls.

The man (Joe) pictured above with Derek lost 17 of his immediate and extended family members during the Ebola outbreak in less than four months. SEVENTEEN. Gone—just like that. Miraculously, he has fought through the excruciating pain and found his identity, purpose, and strength in a relationship with Christ and is currently a living and breathing fountain of life throughout his own village. He is rich. And he’s spreading the wealth.

I asked Derek to summarize his biggest takeaway from Liberia and this was his response:

“Life is messy everywhere, but God is at work across the globe. We have different problems, but they’re ultimately the same. We are diverse, but we are alike. It’s both complicated and simple—the entire world needs a Savior.”

I hope this little reminder moves us all toward thankfulness for our own riches, to pray for those struggling with more than we can stomach, to repentance for our passive self-indulgence, and to action towards love, passion, forgiveness, generosity, and mercy in our very own circles.

 

Perspective is a funny thing. Nothing about us changes, but it changes us.

 

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Jenn Jewell
About me

Jenn Jewell is a pastor's wife, mama to two, and blogger of God's ridiculous grace. She's constantly chasing hard questions and wild children, as well as reminding herself (and others) what really matters. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to raid the fridge, kick off your shoes, and stay as long as you'd like.

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