This past week we got some really devastating news from our chat group. A family with America World that got their referral for two precious girls in July found out that their baby girl had died after not being able to overcome a battle with pneumonia. I don't know many details, and it probably wouldn't be appropriate to post them even if I did, but the news, of course, was horrifying and our need to pray very tangible.
Simultaneously, I've started a new book besides the ones I wrote about in my last post that I do once or twice a week for devotions called Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration by Compassion International staff writer and photographer Amber VanSchooneveld. It's theme? "Not just to save the world...but also to restore our souls." It is a powerful book about poverty. It's divided into five weeks and these first five days are on the poverty of the heart, addressing, among others, issues of coming face to face with our wealth (and we have a lot of it!): "One of the most astounding things about the affluent minority is that we honestly think we have barely enough to survive in modest comfort" (Ron Sider) and the positives and negatives of the American Dream (the "one-two punch...[of] individualism coupled with busyness"). It is peppered with statistics about poverty and great quotes from the Bible and other amazing people like Desmond Tutu's statement that "A self-sufficient human being is subhuman." (are there many Americans that don't fall into this category?) as well as insights and pictures and reflection space. When I read that Ethiopia had a GNI (Gross National Income) per capita in 2003 of $90 and the United States' was $37, 610, it's hard not to think about the little girl we know that was lost. If she had been here, would she not have been saved? Acc. to Melissa Faye Greene in there is no me without you, Ethiopia has one of the worst health care systems in the world, so it is hard not to at least speculate...and become almost frantic with thoughts of "Faster! Faster! We're not moving fast enough!" Greene's book over and over again mentions the conditions and statistics with many specific stories of suffering children and families (often specifically focusing on the AIDS/HIV pandemic) in Ethiopia. I have read statistics about poverty and the conditions in other countries for years. They move me, and yet, somehow there is a disconnect. It seems nearly impossible to process information about people in the tens of millions and still put skin on them. What's worse, "Very often we know enough to choose not to learn more lest we feel guilty...Rich Christians know enough about the ravages of poverty that we turn off the TV special on poverty...We know that knowing more will make us morally obliged to change." (Ron Cider).
Ever since reading Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution more than a year ago, I have felt discontent. Discontent not in an unhealthy way, but, I believe, in a way that whispers, sometimes screams, "There's more!!!" Being a Christian for me needs to be more. I think right now our family is in the right place in our neighborhood, in our church, in our country; however, I know there is more. God has bigger plans down the road, and I think he's been putting a hunger in my heart that is preparing me for whatever more He's called us to in the future. Regardless, I'm getting antsy. I'm tired of this rich, suburban life. Don't get me wrong: there are tons of things that I love (like an occasional dinner out or a date at the movies or an extra pan or bottle of make-up or two cars or a big house or, or, OR!), but I'm getting more and more discontent--especially in the quiet moments--with my life. When there are millions and millions and MILLIONS of children and adults dying all over the world from preventable causes, and I sit in my comfortable house with my comfortable life, I can't help but feel sick of myself, of my country, of money and greed and those who possess it (myself included) to buy bigger and better instead of using it to really make a difference. Life needs to change. I NEED TO CHANGE. And I hope, as I think of that precious little girl and the millions she represents, that change is beginning, not just in the deep inner parts of my heart, but the outside, too. Dear God, I HOPE this is the case.