The subject of race has been a polarizing topic in our country for longer than any of us have been alive. In many ways, the lasting effects of the racism that divided us are still entrenched in many communities. If we move into the church, we find that even among God’s people, diversity and freedom from race divisions is still a longed for reality.
Like I said on Friday, I really like the Olympics. While I know there are mixed opinions about the opening ceremonies, it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the games. Yes, it drags on a bit. Yes, it can be difficult to interpret at times. But there is something about the parade of nations that gets me every time. I will most likely never visit the majority of the countries who are represented at the Olympics, but for just a brief moment I get to learn a little about them. And I love that. I love seeing the faces of the people from obscure or underrepresented countries. They are so proud. They are so excited. They appreciate the moment in ways we Americans will probably never realize.
One of the defining characteristics of Christianity is that we can’t save ourselves. This belief, that our right standing before God is all God-given grace, is what sets us apart from other religions in the world. A few days ago as we were talking to a non-Christian friend about his religion, he laid out what he believed would happen to him after he died. One statement he made has stuck with me. After explaining his beliefs to us, he basically said that he really has no assurance that he will be saved in the end. He just hopes that his good works will be enough to please his god. After he told us that, one phrase just kept ringing in my ears:
Kenya is one of the countries deeply affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis have fled to Kenya for relief from the drought and famine that is plaguing this region. Now Kenya is burdened by the amount of people seeking relief at their borders. One of the saddest stories I have heard about the people coming into Kenya is that many women are being raped as they journey to relief camps. This is absolutely horrific.
Last week I wrote about the current famine in the Horn of Africa. It's really consumed a lot of my thinking as reports continue to come out of this drought and famine ravaged region, like the fact that 29,000 children have died from hunger in the past 90 days (as of August 4). The news reports show desperate mothers and fathers carrying weary children hoping that their long travel will mean aid for their families. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently threatened by the most severe drought and famine in decades. In southern Somalia famine has already been declared and is feared to spread to other nearby countries (like Ethiopia and Kenya) who are already affected. While much of America is focused on our debt crisis, millions of vulnerable people, largely women and children, are facing death from malnourishment and disease. Many Somalian women have walked long miles into Kenya, desperate for refugee camps to provide shelter and aid for them and their children, if they can even get into these camps.
I have a horrible confession to make. Growing up I thought that all countries south of the United States were the same. So if someone said that people were Mexican I assumed that meant South Americans too. By God's grace I have since realized the error of my ignorant ways. So doing these missions focused posts is as much an exercise in my own understanding of other cultures as it is for my greater blog audience.
Bolivia is a South American country with over 10 million people. They are landlocked in between Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile. While over 90% of the country is considered Christian, only 16% is evangelical. The instability of the Bolivian government has led them to be one of the poorest countries in the Americas. In addition, Bolivia grows 50% of the world's cocaine, only increasing the instability of the country. The children of Bolivia face the brunt of these problems. The majority of children live in poverty and many are addicted to drugs. All of these circumstances present an opportunity for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed among the people of Bolivia.
After a (too) long hiatus, Missions Wednesday is back! I really want to be disciplined with posting these because they are so helpful in opening my eyes to the nations. I need that. So I hope they help you as much as they help me!
It’s hard to turn on the television anymore without seeing a plethora of news reports coming out of Libya. Libya is one country in a string of countries in the Middle East/North Africa that have recently faced great turmoil and unrest. For us here in “stable” America it might seem like one more news story that plays on repeat on the Today Show every morning. But for Libyans, it’s their life. Living under a dictatorship for years and the hope of freedom is of great concern to them. And as people created in the image of God, what happens to Libyans should matter to Christians.