Monday, December 1, 2008

I Need Africa Part Deux

Last week, I blogged about the statement, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me," in conjuction with the start of a campaign initiated by Mocha Club. Click here to read the whole thing.

Today is the official lauch of the campaign and I wanted to comment on a few things that have been tugging on my heart lately.

The whole world has been consumed with "philanthropic duties" for the past several years, and it's sort of become the "cool thing to do" to give to charity or have a cause to fight for. Not one thing is wrong with this picture. I actually think it's great that the world has finally woken up and become a different kind of people who seem to care what is going on, and is rising up a generation who cares about world issues rather than getting the high score on a video game.

However, I just hope that these causes aren't backed up by empty feelings, by people who are just doing "good" because they think it makes them a "good person" or because it's, like I said before, "the cool thing to do" or "the right thing to do."

It is the "right thing to do" (Can quotations be overused?), but I hope people are doing the right thing for the right reason.

As a Christian, I have been commanded to look after the poor and widows. However, feeding the poor and looking after widows will not solely get me into Heaven. It's the heart with which I do it.

We are all saved by grace along, through faith, not by what we have done for God or by how good of a person we are, but only by what God has done for us (Ephesians 2:8, Walden paraphrase, of course). We CANNOT merit our own salvation. It is a free gift from God. A gift that frees us to be "good people".

No amount of money or clothes or toys we give, no amount of food we serve, no matter how many houses we build, none of that gets us into Heaven. God does.

The reason we do "philanthropy" should be evidence of what God has done for us. Our motivation for doing "good things" is that we are so overwhelmed with the blessings that God has given us that we want to share that with others.

We are a relational people. God made us to build relationships with others. The more we get to know people, the more we want to help them right? My whole outlook on people who are, and I hate to use this term now, less fortunate, than I am has been changed over the past few months. I no longer look at them as someone who I need to give money to, but as someone who I should take to a restaurant, buy a dinner for, and have a real conversation with. Ask them what their story is and how they got where they are which may, in turn, lead to an opportunity to share my story of how I got to where I am through the grace of God. (Some people jest about Tony Romo and his taking a homeless man to the movies. I say, well done Tony Romo. That's just what I'm talking about.)

I read this on the Mocha Club website today:

"Many in the west think Africa is simply an object of charity. This mindset does
not breed true compassion. And there’s something about truth… when it becomes
clear, it hits you in a way that is hard to ignore. The same is true with
people. If we invest in knowing someone, love is the automatic response. We
can’t all make a trip across the ocean, but we can seek to have a conversation
that recasts the damaging images that force pity over partnership."

Pity over partnership. It should be the other way around, right? We shouldn't pity the people of Africa. We shouldn't be sitting back saying, "Mmmm, that's a shame." We should stand up, reach out to our brothers and sisters, and build relationships that will last for eternity. We should do it with a heart that knows that they would do the same for us. We should do it with the heart of Christ, knowing that because Christ loved us first, we can love each other unconditionally.

With our philanthropic deeds, we build relationships with those whom we are serving, but we also build relationships with those with whom we are serving. And we realize that "possessions in our hands will never be as valuable as peace in our hearts."

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