Friday, July 29, 2011

how can this be?

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.  

Disgusting.

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?  




Statistics taken from The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.








29 comments:

Tesney said...

I love you Jenny Dixon.

Amanda said...

I want to share this on my blog. Is that ok? You said it to perfectly.

www.justonemore4us.blogspot.com

Cory said...

That was a beautiful post... tears and prayers here.

Rachel Riding said...

Be the change.
Buy what you need.
Be grateful for what you have.
Give what you can.
Go to www.globalgiving.org to donate to the African famine.
I've never read your blog before but I will again, keep doing what you're doing, you're making a change!
Rachel

Jenny said...

Would love for you to share, Amanda. Thank you.

Ingrid said...

Loved your words and challenge! I am posting this on FB and Twitter.

April Hollingsworth said...

The thing is, you can't make someone see what we see. I've talked to my brother about some of this and it is arrogance. He blames those countries' governments. "If they were democratic they wouldn't have these problems." Makes me so angry.

meredith said...

I am a missionary in Ethiopia. I read your blog from Crystal Gingerich via Tesney Pearce Davis. I will repost it on mine if that is ok. Even here in Addis Ababa these things don't seem real. My husband and I are trying to figure out our place in all of this. We have 3 small kids or we would be on a plane to help right now. (and we may still go we are sorting through all of this). Our question is where is the church? We are allowing corrupt gov'ts to ration food when starving people from a closed country are flooding here. We have food and more to offer them. Donate to World Vision. All the money you start saving think about donating there- they are giving more than just the food they need. Thank you for posting this.

Crystal Archie said...

Amazing post Jenny!!!! A real eye-opener!

Blessings to you and your family!

Steph said...

Sitting here choked up and speechless with my body filled with goosebumps. You've inspired me to do more (give more). Thanking God for you and your braveness to speak out for those without a voice.

ozwillie said...

Awesome post Jenny! While I too have made some changes; I feel somewhat guilty at how little that seems. I believe our "riches" here in America should be used to share with the rest of the world! The Founding Fathers' unwritten motto was "every man for everyone else." Not "every man for himself." Yet today, our Gov't pays farmers to not grow food, leaving land empty that could produce food to share with these in such need. I truly believe America could produce enough to satisfy the world. As for the cost of care for those, our Gov't ( we voters really ) have rolled up such debt that we are basically ignoring these kinds of folks. God will judge & is judging us for it. Our riches have done little except to increase our greed, we are no longer compassionate capitalists; we are just selfish & uncaring for those in need.

Jenny said...

April - I wish your brother could see that this world with it's many governments is not our kingdom. I don't think God blames the government. He didn't place the responsibility in the hands of any government. I will pray that you can lovingly help your brother see the truth.

summer said...

Honestly this is the BEST post I have ever read!!! You are so RIGHT!!! This is MY fault too!!! This is not that complicated!!!! Thank YOU!!!

Lela said...

My teens will read this post. I say over and over to them....to whom much is given, much is expected....it is biblical, New Testament. I did not become aware of these statistics in your post until I became aware of World Vision. Before that, I didn't know how different the rest of the world lived. We must educate our children as to how most people on this earth live. They don't know either. They simply want to compare themselves to those who have more. Teaching our children to tithe is a good start.

For this journey we're on... said...

I would also love to share this on my blog... http://richardandbrantley.blogspot.com

Thank you for sharing this... THE conviction my heart has prayed for! Thank you!

Cyann said...

Jenny, you have just earned a follower and fellow blogger from this post. I cannot describe what I am feeling at this time. However, every single word you posted was, and is, true. My household is only my husband an myself nowdays, but we will be making changes, too. Thank you for something so well said!

Love, prayers & faith

steffany said...

argh...I feel this more than you may know. I hike over those mountains and work in the villages the pictures are from...Next week, I wiil be with Sarah Groves...The thing is sweet momma...Ethiopia is more than this, just like America is more than Joplin, New Orleans, etc. I pray that as you spread the word of this Ethiopia..you spend more time sharing the hope of the Ethiopia I know and support.

Jenny said...

Steffany - I completely agree! I've only been to Ethiopia twice, but I LOVE it and think it is a beautiful place full of amazing people with beautiful spirits.... and definitely hope. I think what you do is so important and when my kids are old enough for me to leave them I may just be knocking on your door begging to go with you!

Connie said...

God has given you an amazing gift of writing. I am always awed by what you write and think how blessed you are by what God has shown and revealed to you. Since you gave permission to others to post, I am also going to post this on my fb. You are truly a messenger of God.

Mike Kneller said...

Thank you.

David Pennington said...

Amazing that this morning I was complaining about my experience on a mission trip and this evening I stumbled upon your message via facebook friend. I sit here convicted. Thank you for your gift of writing and your heart to share with others. I pray that your message touches all those that read it. One person CAN make a difference.

Faulk Adoption said...

Wonderfully written...and sadly...so true. Can I also share this on my blog?! Thanks for opening my eyes even more!

Jenny said...

Yes, please feel free to share!

evonne6kid said...

beautiful writing Jenny. As always you get right to the heart of the matter. I question all the time, how much are WE really supposed to have? How big of a house, how many outfits, how many shoes? Thanks for sharing your heart.

ashleypmo said...

Haunting, and convicting. Thank you for sharing your heart, Jenny.

Perfecting Pru said...

I fowarded this on Twitter. Incredible photos. And so much to think about. In the UK people can donate to the DEC by texting 'Appeal' to 70000 and £5 will be added to their next phone bill.

Thank you for highlighting this issue through your blog.

Alaska's Kids said...

Im posting your post as well. I its okay I was going to use one of your photos as well. Im writing it right now but you can visit it at http://alaskaskids.blogspot.com/. Thanks for this post.

Camille Noe Pagán said...

Words fail. What an amazing, moving reminder of how fortunate we are.

Anonymous said...

Every time I have the urge to binge, or eat out of anything but hunger.. I look at this page. God WILL be my God and I WILL stop replacing him with food. I WILL take responsibility for my actions and what has been entrusted to me... I thank God for this conviction!