I couldn’t believe seven people lived in this stifling, dark room. The heat wasn’t as oppressive as the lack of hope. I slid my camera back into my bag because I knew there would be no pictures here. There weren’t any smiling faces or laughing children. There was a sorrow I can’t explain.
The home belonged to the mother of one of the teen moms from the maternity home our family started nearly a decade ago, and our staff in Kenya wanted us to understand why we needed a transition home for some of the girls and their children. And they needed us to know why providing jobs is so critical.
When we asked how we could pray for her, she shared about the difficult issues in her marriage and the abuse by her drunken husband. We held hands and prayed over her. It was hot and hard to shake the hopelessness that pervaded the room. Just as we were preparing to leave her husband walked in the door—drunk.
And just like that, my little family was in the middle of a heated dispute in a dangerous slum with angry words being flung back and forth in Swahili. We sat back down. I held my little girl’s hand and whispered a prayer for peace and safety as we sat there, unsure of what was being said. I won’t lie—in that half hour I didn’t feel brave at all and longed to return to my normal.
But as soon as I thought it I heard the words thunder in my heart: This is their normal.
I closed my eyes and silent tears slid down my cheeks. My God, this is their normal. There isn’t a fun week of spring break ahead. There isn’t peace and provision. There isn’t enough bread for the day. And as hard as this is to experience for an hour, this is their way of life.
It’s easy to get so absorbed in our own little worlds that we completely miss the way the rest of the world lives. And I can say this because it’s what I did for a very long time. But I dare you, I beg you to hear this truth: your normal isn’t the world’s normal, and the greatest deception is that you believe that it is.
Your full pantry isn’t normal for the rest of the world. Your cold fridge with your favorite drinks and closets with clothes and multiple pairs of shoes—this is not normal for 75 percent of the world. In economic terms the global North (United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand)—with one quarter of the world’s population—controls four-fifths of the income earned anywhere in the world. Inversely, the global South (every other country)—with three quarters of the world’s population—has access to one-fifth of the world’s income.
In other words, a small percentage of us have access to most of the world’s resources while a large percentage of the world doesn’t have enough for one day. God uses people and builds bridges to connect the two worlds. But the life we are building is wasted if it doesn’t take us somewhere that matters. It’s tragic to build a bridge to nowhere. The only thing worse is leading our kids there.
The world and all its sparkling offerings give us temporary satisfaction. But we were created for the real thing. John Piper once said, “If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.”
It’s tempting to think that those with more than enough always rescue those without enough. I have discovered a mutual rescue because I’m just as desperate to see the Son. So with a worldview that acknowledges some have less, others have more, and maybe, just maybe God wants to use us as a bridge—we first need to answer the question, Why do we give?
I know we aren’t working our way to heaven, checking off an eternal list of good deeds to earn our way in and somehow building a bridge high enough to get us there. No, our salvation is only by grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy.
We give because He gave everything for us.
And this truth changes everything.
Today’s post is an excerpt from Raising World Changers in a Changing World: How One Family Discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving