I finally got all the kids settled in bed after a long day with daddy away and fevers of 101 degrees. Ahhh. I took a deep breath and sat down at the computer with my peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich for dinner. I thought I might just stumble around on here a while as I ate. You know, just unwind after my trying day. I sat, eating my sandwich and washing it down with my bottled spring water. It was only a matter of seconds before I stumbled upon this photo....
and this one...
and a part of me wanted to keep eating my sandwich and look away. But then there were these...
...and then the food became stuck in my throat. It's hard to swallow when you're sobbing.
The tears won't stop flowing. How can this be? I'm serious. HOW CAN THIS BE?! These aren't just photos. These are people. I'm fretting over the fact that my pants are growing tighter and tighter as these people - these precious people I've come to love - these precious people from my daughter's country - die.
I throw away food everyday. They are dying. Everyday.
I am completely and utterly distraught. Really. Not only by these images, but by the images that surround me everyday. The images that surround me in my country, in my town, in my home, in my church, in MY world. My world. My life. See, I am wealthier than 99 percent of the world. Did you know that if you make $50,000 per year you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world? Yet how many times have I flippantly uttered the words that we are "broke". Or claimed that I couldn't "afford" to give anymore right now? Did you know that 93 percent of the world's people don't own a car? I have 2.
Richard Stearns says in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel, that "we don't believe we are wealthy, so we don't see it as our responsibility to help the poor. We are deceived." I hate being deceived.
Look at that first photo again and tell me if these numbers don't make you uncomfortable:
Americans spend $705 billion a year on entertainment and recreation, $65 billion on jewelry, $31 billion on pets, and $13 billion on cosmetic surgery. Not Millions. Billions.
Do you know what it would cost to bring basic health and nutrition to everyone in the world?
$13 billion. Yep. Just $13 of those $814 I just mentioned.
Here's what I know deep inside of me.
The bones of that 7 month old baby are not visible because of a lack of resources in our world -
famine or no famine.
That 7 month old baby weighs 7 1/2 pounds because of me.
You might think that sounds harsh or even ridiculous. The truth is harsh and often even ridiculous. The even harder thing to say is this: That baby is starving because of my sin. Ezekiel wrote that Sodom's sin was that she was "arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Maybe you would be appalled at anyone suggesting that you are arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned.
I am quite ashamedly all three. This is why I sob.
It is so very easy here on our American island to forget that we are a part of a GREAT BIG WORLD. Americans make up less than 5 % of the world's population. How did we become so arrogant?
The fact is, we are all connected. What I have is something that someone else doesn't have. Period.
Nearly 9 million people a year die from hunger or hunger related causes.
I can often be heard whining about my pudgy waist.
I can often be heard whining about my pudgy waist.
Nobody likes being deceived. World Hunger is often presented as a problem with no real solution. I think that's a lie. Maybe I'm crazy, but is it possible that a good start to the solution would be for those of us who are overfed and unconcerned to become concerned and start eating less? I'm not trying to be funny. I'm serious. We have so complicated things that we can't see what is right in front of our faces. $13 billion dollars. It's estimated that the total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. And again the tears flow.
Changes are coming to this house. I wonder how much money we could save and therefore share if we limited ourselves to dessert only once a week? If we shared more meals in restaurants? If we just cooked less and ate smaller portions? It sounds so incredibly ridiculous even as I type it. That's not even a sacrifice! We eat dessert pretty much every day. While people die. I'm tired of pretending that's not a problem.
For the record, I am not suggesting that we shouldn't be able to enjoy our food. I am merely suggesting we need to stop enjoying more than our share of it. The truth is, I love to cook and I love to eat. I know that for many people it's a gift and for many an art. Sharing a meal at a table with family and friends brings us all great joy. I have no intention of drowning in guilt every time I put a bite of food in my mouth. I will thank God for what he has given me... but I will also acknowledge the great responsibility he placed upon me - the wealthiest 1 percent. I intend to stop thanking Him for how richly he has blessed my family while simply pitying those He hasn't chosen to bless as richly as me. That's just another lie. I don't believe He withheld his blessing from the 9 million who died last year. I believe he entrusted it to us and we withheld it.
We scold our children when they behave selfishly and refuse to share. This passage in James 5 sounds a little bit "scoldish" to me....
Listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days... You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
Am I just crazy, or is it really just not that complicated?
Photos taken from this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/famine-in-east-africa/100115/
Statistics taken from The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.