Burden

6 04 2008

Friends & Family,

Bombardment of statistics, propaganda and peoples opinions is overwhelming and burdensome. We’re in the midst of choices clouded by self and sin. Choices that try to define our fallen existence and wage war on our quest through life for truth. We’ve all asked ourselves “what is truth?” The truth is that we are in a fallen world, filled with fallen people and we fall. We make mistakes. We turn right instead of left and then deal with the consequences of what we think shouldn’t be. Then comes guilt. Shame. Loneliness. And depression.

– Twenty percent of people in the world live on one dollar a day.
– Another 20 percent live on two dollars a day.
– Twenty percent of us live on more than seventy dollars a day.
– More than two billion children live in our world, half in poverty.
– One out of every four children in the world has to work instead of going to school.
– Eight percent of people in the world own a car.
– Over one billion people have unsafe drinking water.
– A child dies of hunger every sixteen seconds.

Overwhelming? You bet. What do we do with this burden?

I’m currently reading a speech by Ivan Illich called “To Hell with Good Intentions”, I know, the title is a little abrasive, however, the honesty has invited me into a theological ideal. An ideal vocalized from knowledge, experience and understanding.

“Next to money and guns, the third largest North American export is the U.S. idealist, who turns up in every theater of the world: the teacher, the volunteer, the missionary, the community organizer, the economic developer, and the vacationing do-gooders. Ideally, these people define their role as service. Actually, they frequently wind up alleviating the damage done by money and weapons, or “seducing” the “underdeveloped” to the benefits of the world of affluence and achievement. Perhaps this is the moment to instead bring home to the people of the U.S. the knowledge that the way of life they have chosen simply is not alive enough to be shared.”

Are our good intentions to share our lives, our ideals, our opinions and our rights, right? Or even good for that matter? My answer right now is no (still in the process). So what should we share?

Truth.

“Love seeks not its own.” – Paul

Love isn’t self-seeking. God calls us to love Him first then love others. It’s impossible for us to truly love others if we do not first love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We will fail, but the beauty is that God uses our failures to draw us back to Him.

What if our self-seeking was really seeking the good of others? Would this be considered love?

We must first ask, what is the good of others? Is what’s “good” for me good for you? [God, love, truth, salvation, and the fruit of the Spirit are good for everyone – but I’m talking about humanitarianism].

The only way I’ll ever know what’s good for someone else is to ask. To know them, live life and be in community with them. My friend James (an amazing writer) provides a little insight on how these questions translate in Uganda.

“One lesson that I learned in Uganda that will guide me for many years is: A Ugandan will do more good for Uganda than I ever can. The reasons are obvious. She understands her community more deeply than I will because she was born into it, grew into its roles and conventions, knows its troubles and hopes from a thousand evening conversations. She absorbed it like language. I, on the other hand, struggle to peel back its layers; I search for its heart. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but always I have to interrupt in order to understand. She just knows.”

If we are to do good for others, we must understand what good is from their perspective. Thus, ask questions, listen and adapt. This is the success of the time given to me in Uganda.

God bestowed a dream to a woman named Jolly Okot and it’s her vision for her people that will bring good to their land. She’s been born into it. It’s her calling. Her destiny. Thanks to God, I’m not a “vacationing do-gooder”. I’m not perfect. Definitely still a work in progress. However, I’ve been asked by Jolly to return to Uganda again to pass on her vision, advice and encourage a new friend of mine (IC’s new Logistics Manager). I’ll be in Uganda March 28th – April 18th. Please pray that my dependency would be on God and all glory would be His.

Something for us to ponder:
Is it harder to serve your friends next door or friends overseas?

Love you all. Thank you for your prayers, emails, letters and financial support.

Hope you liked the video in my last email and that you signed up to give your money away. If there’s one thing you could do to help it would be $12 a month to Invisible Children. They [our friends overseas] need it. They’ve got the vision, just not enough resources.

Jared

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