A few days ago was Black Friday. I found myself over 4000 miles away from my home standing in a ‘small” refugee camp in a large city in West Africa. I was surrounded by poverty, brokenness, pain, and suffering. As I walked the dusty dirt roads of this community I saw hundreds of humans just trying to survive. I saw mothers scraping together the little food they had to feed their children. I saw a few men lurking through the hill of garbage to find some plastics and cans to recycle. I saw children wondering around trying to find something to keep them busy. This wasn’t my first time seeing poverty or even at a refugee camp but somehow God broke my heart again.
The entire time that I spent in this camp It’s like my mind kept flashing images of people in the states lining up at stores, scrolling through Amazon surfing for deals, filling shopping carts full of gifts, and buying seemingly an endless amount of stuff. But then my mind would quickly snapback into the reality surrounding around me. A place full of people far far far away from their home land. A place full of tragic stories. A place full of children without fathers. A place full of pain so thick I could feel it. A place full of wives who lost their husbands. A place lacking the most basic of needs. A place where children are dying from fevers. A place that is broken. A place full of strangers trying to live in a city that doesn’t speak their language. A place full of my neighbors seeking shelter, refuge, hope, and a future. The contrast the in my mind was tearing me apart.
Everywhere around me were precious people carrying burdens so heavy that I should see it in their eyes. Amidst all the poverty and brokenness there was one little boy that literally shattered my heart. Some others and I were standing in a gated facility unpacking and shorting through aid to give out as a mother walked in with her son. This boy was maybe 3 or 4 but his sickness made him so weak to the point he couldn’t walk. He was sick because he was incredibly malnourished. He could hardly keep his eyes open. The little I saw of his mom I just noticed her face was in djmuncertainty. I was told that just in the past few week there had been two children who have died from sickness or lack of nutrition just in this community of 2000 people!
To think that this time of year parents all around the States are buying hundreds if not thousands of dollars of stuff for their children... yet here was a mother not even able to feed her son enough food. That right there made me mad. I was surrounded by people hardly surviving yet 4,000 miles away there were people rushing into stores to buy the latest TV. What if we started living children around the world as much as ours? What if we started loving our neighbors around the world as much as ourselves?
We don’t need that new crockpot, TV, shirt, gaming counsel, toaster oven, iPad, and on and on! Even us Christians have become materialistic! Our treasure should never be the things of this world! Our treasure is in heaven! We need to start taking our eyes off of our own little lives and look at this world who are in desperate need of the most basic nescities but most of all the Good News of Jesus!!! How are we spending our money, time, and lives? Are we living the Bible or some basic American dream with some Jesus sprinkled on for good measure?
Look, I don’t have all the answers I’m typing this on my iPhone in the front seat of a 12+ hour taxi ride across another country in West Africa. All I know is what I saw at the refugee camp is not ok. It’s not right or just that we have been so blessed yet so reluctant to live our lives in full obedience to the God we claim to worship, while there is a world full of broken people not just physically but spiritually! This camp I visited was full of people who have never, not even ONCE heard the Good News of Jesus!! The thing is that just until recently there were only unbelievers helping this community... That right there should break our hearts... that people who don’t claim the name of Christ are trying to reach out yet so many of us are fine not doing anything. This was just one place, in one city, in one country, in one region, in one continent!!! There are still billions yes BILLIONS that haven’t been reached with the gospel at all! May we take the Good News and our love to those who need it the most!!!
It’s NOT time to be focused on living some comfortable life but rather time to take up our cross and live the most epic lives we can serving the KING of kings!!! Let’s go tell and show the world of His GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Live broken. Love unconditionally. Serve radically.