January 03, 2007

Urbana: Poverty and Injustice

Love your neighbor as yourself
See a need and meet it
Defend the powerless
And in heaven be richly greeted

Our lives are but a breath
Only one chance to throw it away
To die to oneself
And see Jesus anew each day

Poverty, and dealing with poverty as well as the AIDS pandemic was one of the major subjects this year at Urbana. What our roles are in this battle against disease and suffering.

On Friday evening for dinner, Urbana delegates enjoyed a special meal. What made it special, was that it was a mixture that World Vision gives to the poor in Africa, a mixture of corn meal, some grains and vitamins.

It was difficult for me to enjoy it.. first of all it didn't taste very good at all. I put in one packet of sugar and heard many put in 3 packets. But the point wasn't to enjoy it but rather, to give a glimpse into the life of a poor african (or other country) grouping up in a poverty stricken world. I was touched by that.. and even more so, an hour later when my stomach started growling for more food.

This level of poverty really makes me think about how I spend my money, the level of luxury I live in, the number of useless things we in North America complain or debate about. Kinda puts things in perspective.

For instance, sitting in a nice 4-door sedan wondering if I should have gotten leather seats instead of cloth.. how cleaning my interior could have been so much easier if I had leather seats. Or while driving, I start to wonder why I didn't just splurge an extra thousand bucks to have the volume control on my steering wheel instead of way over there on the dashboard. To put things into perspective, the money spent there could easily have fed several villages for years.

The evil one is evil
God is faithful and true
They're fighting over your soul
So whatcha gonna do?

He promises to guide you
Promises clarity
So please don't take His call
To just mean: "Clothes for charity"

One kinda cool part of that night was that Bono from U2 teleconferenced in and spoke to us. He spoke about the war on AIDS and our roles as Christians. It was neat.

This world that we live in.. there is just so much parity between the many blessings that I've had compared to the many horrifying atrocities that others have experienced. But I think that the asterisk on both accounts would say that we all need God.

All the evil and injustice of the world goes streamin
Into city where kids cannot even start dreamin
Cuz they laborin' without knowing the hope of Jesus
Or they simply dying of preventable diseases

It may seem daunting friends
But your battle gear is useful
Every day spent in the Word of God
Is making you more truthful

God is concerned with the last, the least, the lost and the littlest. One speaker, Sharon Cohn told us a story about a woman named Elizabeth, a Christian. She was told about a job that would allow her enough money to support her family, only it turned out that she was captured and sold to a brothel, where she was imprisoned and forced to become a sex slave. She was raped and abused repeatedly. She prayed for God's help. A year later, when she was finally rescued, they found this written on the wall of the her prison cell, where she had been tortured and abused:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation --
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life --
of whom shall I be afraid?"

"When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall."

"Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

(Psalms 27: 1-3)

When I heard this story, it nearly broke my heart. To endure the way she did.. I wonder and fear if my faith is as strong.

(italics are a rap written by Jedd Bloom)

1 comment:

ivy said...

don't forget her prayer after she was rescued from the brothel.

psalm 34:4
"i sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."