Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Africa is at the front of my mind much of the day now.  It's also present in many of my conversations.  People think you're really interesting if you're going to Africa, so, I'm getting asked about it all the time. 

I sincerely hope, though, that all these conversations don't just end with all my friends and acquaintances and the sweet strangers I'm meeting as I prepare to leave thinking I'm participating in the global-travel-version of bungee jumping, but instead, I hope that Africa gets under their skin and starts to fill them with discomfort, and compassion that compels them too.  I've only experienced the tip of the compassion ice berg, I know.  But if my going is a catalyst for many more people to become aware, to the point that they can't ignore the global issues of sickness, poverty, trafficking, and slavery, then my small trip to Africa is accomplishing some of it's purpose.

And a lot of people are, in essence, letting me know what a good person I am.  Which bothers me immensely.  The more I care about the problems and people I almost never naturally encounter in my "good" life, the more I know I have not been good.  I have ignored and shoved away, I've kept great storehouses for my own family and let others starve.  I don't have clean answers, but I know I don't want to ignore this anymore.  One opportunity at a time I will stop living as if I can stay comfortable with a clean and clear heart while people starve in every way a human can.  I'm not a good person.  I'm just me.  And I trust a God who has good plans for restoration and life. 

Also, people keep asking me if I'll bring a baby back with me.  This is a big one.  People who know us know we are quite prepared to adopt.  We feel it's still at least 2 years away, and are waiting on that.  If God dropped an opportunity on our door step, we would scoop it up in a heart beat.  But we continue to pray and let our hearts get intertwined with orphans around the world as we read the blogs of those who care for them daily, as we learn their names and give towards their needs, and now, as I travel to Zambia.

This may or may not offend some of you, but at the tip of my words, sometimes, when I'm talking about Africa and the question of adoption comes up, I just want to say,  adoption isn't the answer.  Not ultimately.  The answer to the epic problem of poverty, brokenness and sickness in Africa is not that wealthy Westerners should come and adopt as many of these orphans as they can and bring them back to a safe, beautiful, "normal" home in America.

The answer needs to come in the form of healing and freedom from the very heart of Africa itself (or any other place in the world that is broken- and that includes the US). 

Believe me, my mother-heart would give as many orphans a home as we could possibly fit- but ultimately, it's not my job to "rescue" children and bring them to a "better" life.

My God-given role is to not ignore suffering, to take my individual responsibility, which is unique to me, and to our family, and to do what I can as God wills to make moves toward wholeness and healing for the broken.

We should do what we can to give Africa a hand up, not a hand out.  We should work justice out one act at a time, empowering individuals to move forward, to see a bigger vision than the one life had previously laid out before them.

I should not assume my job is to sweep in and rescue, and give answers. 

In many, many ways, giving my heart over to know and care about orphans has rescued me, and opened me up to wisdom and clarity I was only ready for once I'd surrendered my own ideas and answers to God, and just let him break me up in the clarity and humanity of seeing another beautiful life in want and need of all the basic things I absolutely take for granted, and have a responsibility to distribute fairly.  I have too much, they have too little- but in other ways they have so much, and I have so little.  I can't give without getting.  I'm not a savior.  I feel quite needy myself.

So I'm not going to Africa to bring answers and hand outs.  I'm going because this is my time to go.  I assume God has a role for me there.  I assume much of that has to do with changing my own heart, and the effects of that may benefit the world in some way.  I have no idea, but, I'm going.

And I am going to give children an experience.  For the short time I'm there, I hope they have an incredible time.  I hope they know down deep that people that live a million miles away love them, care about them, and want to invest in them, because we believe they have mighty hearts, clear voices and strong minds that will change the world.  I want them to be empowered, to have a great awareness of who they are and what they were created for.  I hope they have fun, and discover ways to create and see the world that impact them for life.