(There is a video at the bottom of this post from our bus ride this morning through Manila).
My husband is a youth pastor, and there have been a lot of things said to him over the years. But one thing nobody has ever said is, Why do you work with high school students when so many adults need Jesus?
But I have heard a lot over the past few weeks: Why are you traveling to the Philippines when so many people in our own country need help? Can I be very honest with you? I have had to ask myself that very same question. There are storms and floods in our own backyard, and I struggled as I stood in Target to try to figure out what to bring my sponsored child, Stacey.
I looked around at the shelves and I knew that I could fill my cart with things for a little girl who lives only two blocks away from me just as easily as I could fill it with things for this little girl who lives two days away.
Poverty is no respecter of persons. Desperation knows no nationality.
I am still working through this theology of need, this open, gaping wound that exists in the world and our role in it all as we fumble with our gauze and our band-aids on the sidelines. From the apartment complex one mile from my front door, to the 6×8 room in Manila that is a home to a family of four–the need is overwhelming but that does not mean we ignore it simply because it wasn’t born in the USA.
This time, I chose to travel two days away. This time, Jesus issued the invitation to come here, and I accepted.
But nearly every other day, he issues the invitation for me to stay home, to make dinner, to love my husband, to lead a small group, to see my neighbors, to love my city. I don’t always take that invitation seriously. But it is no less important. Nobody hosts a blogging trip for moms to blog about the baby on our hips.
But it isn’t about the blogging trip or the place where we serve or the country we live in. We do not ignore the poverty in the world simply because there is poverty in our city any more than we ignore the high school students in our church simply because there are adults, too.
Are we willing to let the Spirit of God move us and love us and challenge us the way He does, and not the way we think He should? Dare we believe Him to be the artist that He is, or must we continue to try to force His hand to stroke the way we think the painting ought to look? Will we allow the question to change from Why can’t you help the people in our own country? to Why don’t we just help people?
The truth is, we can do both. We can serve in our church and sponsor a child in the Philippines. We can feed our homeless friends lunch downtown and pray for a developing country. And for those who choose to send some resources to a child in need overseas, we don’t have to reinvent things.
I am currently in Manila, Philippines with a team of bloggers. We were brought here by Compassion International to see the work they are doing in the lives of children living in poverty. And let me just say, Compassion holds a lot more than gauze and band-aids. They don’t have all the answers, but hope and love and mercy rattle around among their bag of questions. They stand with the widow. They care for the babies. They kneel on the dirty floor of the cardboard house and color with the toddler.
And when they do it, you are doing it too. Because without people like you who are willing to sponsor these children, they would not have the resources to care for the least of these–to pack lunch bags for the families, to bring bibles into the dark, littered alleyways of the world’s most hidden and desperate group of souls. It is important work.
And so is making spaghetti on a Thursday evening. Because those babies sitting at your table are not only from your country but they are from the heart of God. You care for them, and that is good, important, God-honoring work. And these babies in the Philippines are from the heart of God, too. Everyone is not asked to go. But I think we are all asked to see. And then the question, What will you do?
We have been in the Philippines since Sunday. We leave day after tomorrow. If you would like to take a step towards seeing, follow along with us as we finish out our trip. We will tell you what we see, and simply ask that you not close your eyes. First step? Watch this short video where Tsh and I babble about what we do during the days here. Well, I babble. She talks like a grown up. Sorry the sound isn’t that great. Loud bus.
What I meant to say is we are spending the day at a Child Development Center with students enrolled in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. Just so you know.
Thank you for loving the babies at your table, at your church, in your community. It is important work. And thank you for being willing to see what God is doing in the Philippines by following us on the rest of our journey at Chatting at the Sky, Simple Mom, and also here.