Last Thursday I was wave jumping in the Atlantic when a thought flitted into my mind. Across that wide expanse of water laid Africa and within Africa is Ethiopia where the future of our family awaits. Standing with waves lapping my legs and the sun scorching my back I was painfully aware of what was missing. So there in the water I prayed. I prayed that our wait would not be as long as the 'possible projected wait time.' I prayed that during our wait we would grow as a family and our faith. And I prayed for our future little one(s). I prayed for safety, good health and that amidst the loss of being orphaned, he feels loved and wanted.
And then I turned away from the ocean, walked up the beach to our house and joined Matt and Gabe for lunch. After lunch, Matt put Gabe to sleep and I set out to read.
I started reading The Hole in Our Gospel about 2 weeks before vacation thinking I would be done in a couple of days. However, Richard Stearns book took me much longer to read than anticipated. Reading with a toddler at home is difficult but what kept me from reading were the distressing statistics noted (that my compulsiveness made me check which was time consuming on my kindle) and the Bible verses quoted (which I then had to go read the passages around them to fully understand Stearns' point.
Here are some of the statistics (taken from the book):
- 3 billion desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions trafficked in human slavery, 10 million children die needlessly each year
- 26575 children die each day of largely preventable diseases related to their poverty
- Of the more than 6.4 billion people in the world, 1 in 6 does not have access to safe water
- At any given time half of all people in developing countries are suffering form a water related illness
- Roughly every minute, three children die because of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.
- Of the 6.4 billion people in the world; 1 in 6 does not have access to the most basic health care. 1 in 3 is under the age of 5
- Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria
- More than 15 million children have lost one of both parents to AIDS
- Out of the 6.4 million people in the world, one in seven does not get enough to eat
- Nearly 800 million go hungry every day
- Every 7 seconds a child under 5 dies from starvation
- Of the 6.4 billion people in the world one in two live on less than 2 dollars a day
- The U.S. is the second to last of the rich nations in giving to poor nations but the American people gave private donations of 136 billion dollars in aid (statistic from 2005).
- Of the more than 6.4 billion people in the world one in 7 doesn't get enough to eat
- In the US, 1 of every 6 children lives below the federal poverty level
- 6 out of ever 1000 babies dies in the US before the age of 5
- 104 out of every 1000 babies dies in Myanmar
- 257 out of every 1000 babies dies in Afghanistan
- If you make 50,000/year you are wealthier than 99% of the worlds population
Did you read those statistics? Read them again and let them sink in.
Finishing the book while on vacation was a little humbling because we were so blessed to be able to go on vacation when millions of others struggle to have enough to eat on a daily basis. But at least it motivated me.
Let me digress. Before moving to Texas I had high hopes of starting an orphan ministry in our church and was looking into starting a nonprofit. I had no idea the scope of the mission for the nonprofit but I knew I had to do something.
And then we moved to Houston. We're attending a church that we like but it's certainly not 'our' church yet. And I've lost any and all contacts in starting a nonprofit. So for a while I've felt like I'm back at square one. In most ways I still am.
However, I have found my motivation. And from my friends that have traveled to a 3rd world country, I know that the motivation to help make a difference only gets stronger once you've been there, seen the poverty and connected with the people. Our old life group pastor, Dan, wrote a blog post about how to make a difference here: Action. In many ways I feel like we're trying to do what we can, but deep down I just feel like it's not enough. Finding out the next step, figuring out what to do and where to start... right now that's where I'm stuck.
I know I want to make a difference. I know I want to live more radically and fill the hole, I'm just not sure how yet. While we wait to bring our little one home, I want the waiting time to be worthwhile.