I have been a long time supporter of World Vision. My family “adopted” a boy way back when I was in middle school. In college I rekindled that relationship with World Vision through my involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (the two organizations work closely together).
Couple Thursdays ago I left school and drove straight to Austin (3 hours) to hear Rich Stearns (president of World Vision and author of The Hole in our Gospel) speak. At the event I was quite disappointed because the “speaking” portion was about 5 questions (20 minutes) posed to Rich about his life. I could have quoted his answers out of the book.
That disappointment ruined my desire to “adopt” a child of my own.
The whole three hour drive home I was upset with myself. I had let my own selfish feelings prevent me from being a worker in the Kingdom of Heaven; from bringing substance to the hope God promises poor children around the world. Shame on me.
But Friday God answered my prayer and brought me a new opportunity to be involved.
I went to a concert with my friend, Ashley. After taking in the mall-like map of the church’s campus, I was filled with self-righteousness (thinking about how much of a better Christian I am for caring about the poor and not elaborate fountains in the front of the sanctuary). The only thing that brought me back was seeing a World Vision booth set up next to the merch tables… sweet relief for eyes seeking love and justice.
I noticed the crowd around the merchandise table and the two lonely volunteers at the World Vision table; so I approached them and asked them how they were doing. We had a short conversation asking each other questions. It didn’t take long for me to realize these were volunteers from the mini-mall church I was at, that really didn’t know a whole lot about World Vision. So, I saddled up my high horse and walked into the concert thanking the volunteers for their help.
I enjoyed the performance itself, but I couldn’t ditch the the thoughts of how empty the faith of all the people around me seemed. I was stereotyping and it was getting me down.
After the concert I wandered out to the World Vision table. This time there was one other girl asking questions. I was staring at the faces of the children; trying to connect with one of them, ignoring the person talking to me. They all needed me, the children, but I was apathetic. Overcome by my hopelessness of American Christianity.
We love looking “Christian,” but not living Christian. We love wearing “Christian” t-shirts, listening to “Christian” radio stations, and spending time reading the Bible with other “Christians.” We don’t love questioning our “faith”, we don’t love giving our money away, and we certainly don’t love putting ourselves in difficult situations. We hide in our suburban middle-class bubble and thank God for blessing us with a safe place to live.
I was brought crashing back down to reality when my friend Ashley stepped up from behind me, picked up a packet, and started filling in her credit card information.
A bit begrudgingly, I got down off of my pedestal and did the same. I felt a little defeated; like I got beat by the mega-church. The worst part is it took me a week to realize that the only loser in that situation was poverty.
My self-righteousness, by selfish ambition, my pride prevented me from giving poverty a shot right in the gut. It’s embarrassing to say, but it happened.
That night I adopted Zakayo Joel. He and I both became winners in a battle against poverty, and I couldn’t be happier.