Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Whose Daughter is She?

"People who are treated as helpless come to hold a lesser view of themselves. People who believe they are "blessed to be a blessing" and not in need themselves come to a lesser view of the people they serve. These victim and savior complexes create a codependency that perpetuates the problems of poverty and far outweighs any temporary relief such missions provide…Poor people understand that getting help requires appearing helpless, and rich people unwittingly advance the helplessness of those they serve by seeing them as objects of charity, not equals."  Joel Wickre of Blood:Water Mission

I was approached by a mom a few weeks ago, a mother in crisis…she can't pay the school fees for 2 of her 3 children (one is enrolled in our school as we are experimenting with opening our classrooms up to some in the community on a scholarship basis), she's been kicked out of the house they were living with because her "husband" is the father of only the youngest child and no longer wants to take responsibility for the other 2…and because of an illness a few months ago she lost her job…she is living with some friends and doing her best to provide a little for her children…she came with a picture of her daughter and said "this is your child, you can have her and do whatever you want with her"; when I asked her what she wanted she said, "I want a job so I can provide for my children." I was heartbroken to tell her that we have no positions available and excited that she asked for a job instead of a handout. BUT I was also heartbroken by her obvious willingness to give her child to a stranger, because that stranger is American and in her mind would take better care of her child…sure I could do a better job of providing financially for her daughter, I could make sure she eats 3 or more times a day, has plenty of clothes and sees a doctor when she is sick…all things we both want for the little girl…BUT I was heartbroken over this woman's belief that her only option was to give up her daughter…that she was powerless and helpless and had nothing to give. I looked her right in the eye (which is a sign of disrespect, which I didn't mean, I just forgot AGAIN!) and told her that she was the mother of this child, that God gave her to her and not to me, and that SHE could care for her. My intent was to encourage her and help her see that she was not helpless in this situation…but I left feeling like I had walked away from someone with a real need…

What really is the answer for this mother…a job would be ideal but…a handout would provide relief for a moment--a week or month--and then she'll need more; and doesn't that just create dependence and leave her feeling de-valued. She wants a job but there are none to be had…and she doesn't know how to apply for one or interview…

This happened over a week ago and I still don't know the right answer. But I do know this…it's getting easier and easier for me to say no…and harder and harder for me to truly know how to help. It might seem strange but I've tried the handout…and I've watched others give the handout…and I've realized the consequences, so I can say no. BUT I am more intensely aware that without some sort of help, it's entirely likely that children will go to bed hungry and mothers will choose to sell their bodies to feed their babies or give them up to a stranger who can give them education and food and shelter.

I'm wrestling this week with a lot of things…but trying to remember that God knows how to help; sometimes He gives us a "handout", some relief from what is our circumstances, and provides us enough to get by and creates in us a dependence, a NEED for Him daily AND sometimes he is more into development…transforming and creating us into people who give and receive.

And Q. said something to one of the boys this week…a boy who we have been working with for school scholarships and some food, who is not following through and using the resources right…he told him: "I don't have money to give you, I can't provide what the Americans can, BUT I have wisdom.  AND if I gave you money today it would be gone tomorrow. BUT these words I have for you will last a lifetime." He went on to share with him how to obey and respect his elders, study hard, and learn to provide for himself, and he encouraged him that he could be a Doctor someday and have a family and a house and food in his stomach each day…that it is possible but it takes more than accepting a handout or expecting others to take care of you…you have to work for it.

In that moment I was reminded that there is sooooo much to learn from these men and women who have lived a life of struggle and suffering that I will never experience. They have so much to give me…and to truly love these people I cannot see myself as the savior and them the victim…I must know us to be equal in God's eyes…and that God is shaping us all.