Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Zambian Norm

So, this afternoon, I walked home from Manda Hill.  Nothing unusual about the day.  The streets were busy with cars, there were taxis and minibuses tooting their horns trying to find customers.  Vendors were selling produce along the roadside.  Everything was normal (well, at least Zambian normal).

As I turned the corner to my street, there was a young man (probably 18 or so) sitting in the grass.  Again, this is normal.  As I progressed up the street and came to our gate, I realized that I was being followed.  The young man from the corner was standing behind me.  Being followed is not the norm, but the reason for this young man's visit was.

As he shared his story, I just listened.  He was a refugee from Rwanda.  His parents had been killed in 1994 from civil war and what he labeled as genocide.  He escaped to Zambia as a refugee, and is living here, but cannot find work and therefore struggles daily to find food.

It's not an exaggeration that almost daily we have to struggle with poverty.  It's the norm.  Whether it be this young man needing food, the daily visitors who stop by our gate looking for work, the pastors we work with struggling to feed their families, we can't avoid poverty, because it's the norm.  We're surrounded by it.

I know we have written about this same topic in the past, but it bares repeating, because we still struggle to comprehend what God is trying to teach us in this area.  As Kerri and I returned to Zambia, we thought we had it figured out.  We would help those we have relationships with and pray about helping those who crossed our path that we didn't know.  But even though this sounds easy, it is quite the opposite.  Every time a new person comes into our lives, verses from the bible on caring for the poor flood our hearts and minds.  We realize we can't help everyone, but living in a country where almost everyone needs help makes it difficult in figuring out who to help.  And for those we choose not to help, it is agonizingly painful when they leave and we try to figure out if we made the right decision.

Today, I honestly don't know if I made the right decision.  I pray that I was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and did what He was calling me to do in this situation, but I just don't know.  I guess that's part of what He's trying to teach me.  As I have tried to create a framework in which to make decisions on who to help, when to help and how to help them, He's been in the process of tearing that framework down.  He's showing me that it's a lot more complicated than A + B = C.  If I am going to make the right decisions on who and how to help others here, decisions that honor Him, it will only be through prayer, petition and a complete and total dependence on Him for guidance.

1 comment:

Derek and Kristin Dearth said...

That brings back a lot of memories. Living in a place like Zambia sure gives a whole new meaning to "praying without ceasing" and "walking in the Spirit." I realized that America makes it so easy to be self-reliant, instead of God-reliant and Spirit-dependent.

Even with all the tough decisions and agonizing poverty, I think that God likes us being in that position. Derek and I are looking forward to going back, Lord willing, and being continually stretched and challenged with those kinds of decisions.

Praying for wisdom, discernment, love, and perseverance in all things - Kristin