Update 2: I think both women are extraordinary and we ought to follow their examples. I intended no slight by using the terms “rant” and “social gospel advocate”. May more people follow in their footsteps. I apologize for miscommunicating. These are heroes to emmulate; this is not a critique.
This rant is making the internet rounds. A young missionary girl, Katie, in Uganda writes about her heartwrenching, on-the-front-lines work:
Wednesday as I met with the Karamjong children for Bible study a woman walked up to me and handed me a baby that I presumed to be dead. And then she breathed.
The mother told me that she was quite positive that she (the mother) had HIV and therefore was not breastfeeding her 10 pound, 9 month old little girl. I asked, quite obviously, what she had been feeding her then? And this was the response that awaited me, “Nothing. We have no food.” Um. NO wonder the baby looked dead. She almost was. I pleaded the mother to let me take her with me, to be tested for HIV and be fed. The mother instanly agreed but fist wanted to show me her house.
I think I have seen it all. And then this happens. Thier house was made of cardboard and was smaller than the bed I sleep in at night. On the floor lay filthy old rags on which they slept and a pile of charcoal which they cooked on (when they did have food, I guess). I almost dropped on my knees right there. It was one of those I-just-don’t-have-a-clue-what-to-do-next moments. So I did the only thing that comes naturally to me. I scooped her up. I prayed for her mother and the 6 other children living in the house/box and promised to return. I drove as fast as I safely could to the nearest semi-good hospital and then to get some high energy formula.
For the first 24 hours, I could hardly stand to look at sweet baby Patricia (her parents had not named her for fear she would die, and I could think of no one better to name her after than my precious Mommy). The hurt and the hunger in her lifeless little eyes was simply unbearable. Every time I changed her diaper, more big fat worms (we are talking really large, earth worm sized) had come out. I cried for the things this child has had to endue for so long. And I cried to know that though I deworm her now, the minute I take her back to her mother, the worms will return. Her HIV test came back negative and I am praising Jesus for that. She was diagnosed with severe pnemonia and malnutrition. She can hardly sleep at night for coughing so much.
Katie writes about her anger and then mentions:
According to several different resources, there are an average of 147 million orphaned children in the world today (this statistic includes children who have lost only one parent as well), 11 million children starve to death each year or die from preventable, treatable illness. 8.5 million children work as child slaves, prostitutes, or in other horrific conditions (making things like that cute baby Gap dress Jane wore today…) 2.3 million children world wide are living with HIV.
That is 168.8 million needy children like Michael and Patricia. Seems like a big number, huh? It shouldn’t, because there are 2.1 BILLION people on this earth who profess to be Christians. Jesus followers. Servants. Gospel live-ers. And if only 8 percent of those Christians would care for just ONE of these needy children, they would all be taken care of.
One the things I think adoption and social-gospel advocates miss in their (justifiable) anger is that somebody is paying the bills for these programs. And it’s coming from Christians. There is no way to know who is giving sacrificially, as it should be, but sometimes I wonder if their ranting shouldn’t be more targeted. I don’t know the author above; I’m speaking generally.
Years ago, we were turned down for this kind of work on the state level because we had “too many children.” (This is funny to me since we only had three.) You can never know what someone is doing in secret. Still others are busy raising their own children, whom they can’t subject to the children in the local foster care systems, due to the horrific behaviors abused children bring into the home.
I seem to recall a story about Keith Green advocating that Christians’ default position should be missions, as opposed to setting ourselves up fat and happy in an American dream (that’s quickly turning into a nightmare). Did it go this way for you: When we are young, if we don’t “feel the calling” toward sacrificial work, we assume we have the green light to go ahead with life and count it a sacrifice to work in the church nursery once a month?
I’ve never been one to make hard and fast rules for people to follow, but you can be sure that I’ll counsel my own children to make vocational choices toward a life that matters. I think the author is right, but I also think we should be confident in our own callings, provided that they’ve been examined honestly.
UPDATE: You really need to read this post as a follow up. Excerpt:
let’s face it, we all want to be katie in one way or the other. we all want to march in and save the world. we love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the poor, the suffering, the outcast.
what we don’t want to do is get up right now and love the drunk in our family. or the brother who can’t keep a job. or the self-important right-wing(or left-wing!) jerk we go to church with.
the ever-wise everly said it in the comments yesterday:
I’d rather be holding an orphan, giving her the first taste of comfort, the first love of Christ, her first toys and clean clothes and bath than dealing with a few of our used-to-be-orphans who sometimes seem to make life messy as a goal.
you see, that’s the problem. eventually, the orphans become the kids next door, the teenager someone’s having a hard time with, the adult who can’t hold down a job. then they aren’t so lovely. and then i don’t really want to save them anymore. i just want them to grow up, get a life, quit taking advantage of people.