A funny thing happened when I went to help change the conditions of the poor in Africa. I was changed.
Twenty years ago, I moved to post-war Uganda to do my part to help. What I came to realize was: God’s call for me to meet the needs of the poor also involved His desire to transform my life.
When we respond to God’s call to care for “the least of these,” we discover something that we have always known, if we are honest — that we are broken as well. No, we don’t often wonder where our next meal is coming from or mourn the loss of another child taken by a preventable illness.
However, we struggle with issues of contentment, relationships and identity that can leave us harried and unhappy. In Isaiah 58, God promises us that when we “spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry…our light will rise in the darkness…and our healing will quickly appear.”
My experience over the past two decades has been exactly that. God is standing by to meet our needs as we respond to the needs of others.
Last week, I was in Ethiopia and visited a teenage-led household. Gibril, a 14-year-old boy, is the oldest sibling of four who were orphaned when their mother died. They live in a small rented room with all of their belongings neatly placed in three small plastic bags. Their father had abandoned the family years ago.
I first met Gibril and his siblings three years ago, and they were inconsolable. There was no hope in their eyes or their future. This past week, I was thankful to see that joy and hope were back in in their lives.
Through child sponsorship, Food for the Hungry (FH) staff work with Gibril’s household, and thousands like it, to provide teaching, training, counseling and basic resources to inspire hope. I left my time with Gibril last week with a renewed sense of gratitude for my own family and the protection He has given us - but also with a sense of awe in how God can use people like us to inspire hope in such difficult circumstances.
FH is committed to what I will call mutual transformation. The impact of our work is not directed only at the poor of this world - but recognizes that we as responders have needs to be healed as well.
Feeling bewildered and lost in today’s fast-paced world? Start by giving your life away and engaging with those in need relationally and materially. I know you will be blessed as you do your part in ending poverty.