An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.
I have been asked several times by several people how I can give money overseas when there are people in my own country that need help? I thought I would take time at the beginning of these 31 days to explain a few reasons I do what I do.
1. The need in Africa is great and there are few resources.
We talk about the cycle of poverty being hard to break in the U.S. It is. Especially if you have medical problems. But the cycle of poverty in Africa is almost impossible to break. In America if you are hungry you can go to a food bank. In Africa there isn't any food to give to a food bank. In American if your house blows over on you, you will receive medical care, insurance or not. In Uganda, if your house blows over on you and you have no way to pay, you will be left on a gurney to die.
2. Christians don't really belong to a nation except the Kingdom of God.
Don't get me wrong, I pledge allegiance to my flag and I appreciate the fact that I live in a free country. I routinely thank service men and women for fighting for me. But I am not only responsible for the poor in my country. I am responsible for the poor everywhere. And if you're a Christian, you should want to see people saved from the intense poverty seen in other countries. If you think Americans suffer, you haven't done enough research.
3. Third world countries are open to hope.
It is so difficult to witness to others in the U.S. I'm not saying that we should give up or that it's impossible that others will come to know Christ, but Christians need to go where people are desperate for Someone to save them. Keep witnessing to your neighbors here, but don't forget that while Americans tend to routinely reject the Gospel there are people all over the world who would accept if only they knew who this Jesus was.
That was probably a lot more harsh than what I intended it to be. I don't want anyone to think that I don't care about my neighbors here in the U.S. I want everyone to have health care and to have enough to eat and have a job. I want all to come to know the peace that I found in Jesus. But at some point we have to quit being so inward centered and start realizing that the church is world wide.
Hands in Service
Based out of the Christian Fellowship in Nashville, TN, Hands in Service is, indeed, a jack-of-all-trades organization. They have developed eight different ministries in Uganda ranging from metal workshops to schools to farms. But as different as these seem, they all have one thing in common: their help is a hand up to the people of Soroti, Uganda instead of a hand-out.
Hands in Service support local small businesses in a variety of ways, which is so important in sustaining change in developing countries.
One impressive part of Hands in Service is their commitment to working across denominational boundaries and to promote unity in the body of Christ. We all like to say that we’re all for unity, but their mission statement was like a sip of cool water for me!
I accidentally ruined my bowl of oatmeal this morning so I had to make a new one. It was such a strange feeling to do that... knowing that at the end of the month I would probably go without breakfast. How odd to have to be so careful how I cook, because if it burns or just doesn't turn out edible I don't eat.
Today, pray for our country and the people who live that reality here. Then take some time to pray for those overseas that are not different from us, just in even more need.