Have I told y'all that I want to go to Africa? I hope you would have heard me saying something about it by now. I never knew I wanted to go to Africa. I always said that if God wanted me to do any sort of missions work it would be to a first world country that just needed more Christians. Like ... Paris. Or somewhere in Greece. On the beach. A Bible in one hand, staring out at the gorgeous crystal blue water, just having had some fresh fish.
Wait ... where was I? Oh yeah. Africa. ;)
I've heard a lot of stories from missionaries over the years, and my heart has always gone out to the people I heard about. I've heard stories from Cambodia, Russia, Malaysia, China, Syria, and beyond who are starving, have no clean water, dying of debilitating diseases, and selling their children into prostitution. I have spent hours on my knees in prayer and in tears for the hearts and lives of those so far away. But even with all of those stories, with knowing people who were traveling to these far off places, I never once felt the need to pack my bags and go. Never once did I run into my closet and start tossing things in and searched for affordable tickets to go to a city that was within three days' travel to some third-world country where I was obviously going to fly in with bags of rice and become a hero. Not my thing. I've always been, "You can't serve across the world until you serve across the street," and the past few years I've focused on helping those around me when I could.
Then, our dear friend Brandon sat down with me and told me about his dream to go to Kenya. Someday soon, I'll have him guest post and tell you his own story, because, I really can't do it justice. The more he spoke about getting back to Kenya and the surrounding areas in Eastern Africa, the more I knew I wanted to go with him. I learned that in the last century, the world has really done a lot to hurt the African continent. We tore apart the country for slaves, we slaughtered their animals, and then tried to "save" them. We failed. We all failed. Then we tried to overcompensate. My favorite example is loser's t-shirts. You know when it's time for the Superbowl or World Series or NBA Championship game and the t-shirt manufacturers print up t-shirts for the winning teams? Well, there's always a loser. The loser's shirts get sent off to third-world countries. Charitable of us, yes? Well ... yes. Except ... for each one of those villagers that receive a shirt, they don't need to buy clothing from their local villager who crafts clothing. So, while some of the villagers have clothes, their is one family who now has no income. Oy. Awesome. This is kind of a simplistic example, but I'll provide more as our story unfolds.
Africa doesn't need our t-shirts or for us to come in and take over. What Africa needs is for us to help them educate themselves so that they can fix the huge problems that they're facing. Africa needs to be equipped with the tools they need to grow stronger. That's where Brandon's project has really shed some new light on how we help third-world countries. The key to success is in the children - because they have the power to change the future. They need to be fed and educated, and then shown that they can be the change - they can BE the difference. And yeah, we could go over there with bags of rice and books .... OR .... we can ensure that they have the tools to start, and that they know how to replenish those tools when needed. We need to start in the schools and orphanages, because they usually are the most disadvantaged - and they should always be a priority! We're going to start by connecting with already established organizations so that we can help them keep going with the work they're already doing. But we can only go up from there.
I gotta tell you, I can't be more excited! Not only about the prospect of going to Africa - because, that in and of itself is extraordinarily exciting - but by all of the work that will be going along with it as well. This isn't going to be just one trip, this is going to be a lifetime commitment of work. Eventually, I'll know roads between villages as well as I know our local interstate. My children are going to be visiting with us. I'll be able to take my grandchildren to see decades worth of work - and maybe even one of them will carry on this work. And it doesn't stop with just going over there, we'll be working on other projects that will coincide with this, as well.
I'm about to embark on a life journey. I hope you'll join me.
Time to spread fluffy bunnies to the rest of the world!!!
(or ... at least Eastern Africa! lol)
Equip Africa Project!!