Aug 28 2013

Magic Kingdom, Tragic Kingdom and God’s Kingdom

In his new book Unfinished, World Vision President, Rich Stearns dedicates an entire chapter to the principal of “Magic Kingdom, Tragic Kingdom and God’s Kingdom”.  

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is where a world so perfect sweeps you away into a little slice of oblivion, a place that insulates you from all the ugliness and pressures of the outside world, a little slice of bliss that allows you to escape to the “happiest place on Earth.”  The concern that Rich has is that a lot of Christians that live in affluent cultures, like ours, live as what he describes, ‘Magic Kingdom Christians.’  We live in a sheltered world shaped by our affluence, living in our comfortable homes, driving in our comfortable cars, living in a world where our basic needs are met, and our kids get an education.  We our enjoy vacations, our toys, cable TV, churches equipped with coffee bars, state of the art sound systems, amazing buildings… on and on the list goes.  

I think that most of us could identify with Rich’s description, and find ourselves described somewhere within it.  His concern is that living in this Magic Kingdom has its consequences.  Rich says, “The problem with living in the Magic Kingdom is that it profoundly shapes our Worldview.  It effects the way we look at every dimension of our lives, our values, our expectations, our priorities, our money, our politics, and even the way we see our Christian faith.”

Outside of our Magic Kingdom lives, lies a ‘Tragic Kingdom,’ a kingdom where much of the world lives. A kingdom where 1 billion people are starving to death, where 2 billion kids are suffering from malnutrition. Where nearly a billion are dying because they can’t access clean water.  Those living in the Tragic Kingdom are victims of human traffickers, warlords and diseases that have left 18 million orphans in their wake.  

3 billion people, 1/2 of the World’s population, live on less that $2/day, 4 ½ billion, live on less than $10/day.  To put things into perspective, if you make $40,000 a year, you make more than 99% of the World’s population; if you make just $13,000/ yr., you are in the top 10% of the entire World.  The saddest Tragic kingdom statistic is that nearly 20,000 children under the age of five die EVERY DAY because of things that money can prevent.  Nearly 8 million kids, 1 EVERY 4 seconds, will die this year because they don’t have the food, clean water and medical treatment they need to survive… Tragic!

If these numbers shock you, they should. It isn’t shocking that most of us living the Magic Kingdom life aren’t aware, because often times we will go out of our way to avoid knowing. We don’t like to be taken out of our comfort zone.

The problem is that living a Magic Kingdom life can get in the way of living the way Jesus described the ‘Kingdom of God.'  Rich Stearns writes in Unfinished, “God doesn’t want our lives to be like that, God wants us to live in a different way, have a different vision of human thriving.  More than 125 times, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, in parable after parable, Jesus describes a new dream for human society that turned the values of the World upside down.  The ‘Kingdom of God’ is characterized by the values of God himself: integrity, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, faithfulness, justice and love.  Jesus’ followers would love their enemies, and be generous with their money and possessions.”

Rich’s advice is that we “return to the front lines, live radically different lives, work as Christ calls us to; making disciples of all nations and demonstrating God’s love to a hurting World."

I have seen World Vision child sponsorship do that over the past two weeks, I have been amazed at how so little, about a $1/day, can transform not only a child’s life, but their entire family and the community where they live.  

You are richer than you think. You may not, single handedly, be able to solve all the world’s problems, but you can START by helping solve the problems of just ONE child!  If we all did just that, collectively, We Could Change the World, One Child at a Time!

Help take Love Around The World! Sponsor a child at http://www.worldvision.org/Love-around-the-world 

Aug 27 2013

Life In The Cracks

As a Christian, you’re called to surrender yourself to God’s plan for your life. World Vision President, Rich Sterns says, “being a Christian isn’t about simply being a “decider,” living a dumb downed Gospel just so you can get your “get into heaven” card.  It is about being a “disciple” and making Jesus Lord of your life.”  Christ cautions us about living any other way.   

Billy Graham said it so well, “God leaves us here because He has a mission for us to fulfill.  We aren’t here by accident; neither are we here simply to enjoy the good things life has to offer.  We are here because God put us here, and He has a sovereign purpose in keeping us here.  It’s true for us as individuals, and it’s true for His body, the Church, in all its fullness.  As Jesus prayed just before His arrest and trial, “I am not praying that You take them out the World… As you sent Me into the World, I also have sent them into the World.” (John 17:15,18)

As we set out on this journey to take “Love Around The World,” our World Vision host, Steve Quant told us to “look in the cracks, for it is in the cracks that you see poverty at it’s worst.”  And boy has he been right, in every city, in every country and on every continent that we have traveled to, we have seen that. Lurking in the shadows of skyscrapers, hotels, apartment complexes and homes, we have discovered those forgotten by society, those who live in the cracks, those that we so often ignore. 

“Looking in the cracks” has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life, within those cracks lie some of the sweetest, kindest and most humble people I have ever met.  Within those cracks lie hopes and dreams clinging to life, hopes and dreams that God calls us to breath life into.  I have said it before and I will say it again, we have met the “least of these” living in these cracks, the very ones that Christ, himself, calls us to care and look out for.

For twenty-six years, Andrea has lived in one of these cracks with her 5 children, forgotten, alone and desperately poor.  Her home consisted of a space literally in a “crack” between two buildings, thrown together with whatever scraps she could find, a wooden pallet here, a piece of plastic there.  A roof that leaked like a sieve when it rained, leaving her home soaked, full of mold, that constantly kept her and her kids sick.  In the 12 years that Steve Quant has worked for World Vision, he says it one of the most heart wrenching and worse living conditions he has ever seen.  I am happy to tell you we didn’t see it, thanks to World Vision’s work in Andrea’s Sao Paulo neighborhood, she is no longer forgotten, her family has a new found hope.  Andrea is now dreaming about her kids’ futures once again!

They still live in that same crack because they simply have no money and nowhere else to go, but thanks to World Vision’s commitment to change kids, families and communities; and the help of her church, Andrea’s crack will have real walls, a real floor and roof that will keep her and the kids safe and dry for the time in twenty-six years.  

Andrea has had a very difficult life, she is very quiet and soft spoken, but when she shared what a difference World Vision child sponsorship had made, her face filled with hope and gratitude poured forth from her lips.  For what you spend on a monthly manicure or pedicure, a trip through a drive thru with your family, or on a trim for the dog… You can change the life of not only a child; but their family and their entire community.  Everyone in Andrea’s neighborhood has seen what love has done to bring forth new life.

This shouldn’t be something that we have to mull over, and pray about, in hopes of God letting you off the hook; Over and over and over again, the Bible tells us this is what God EXPECTS of us as Christians, as “disciples!”  There are more kids, like Andrea’s, that are still waiting for YOU to make them a part of your family.  Start that relationship TODAY!  Just click the link to find your child… http://www.worldvision.org/Love-around-the-world 

Aug 27 2013

Poverty Has Become The New Leprosy

Mother Theresa wrote, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” 

Today we met a woman named Hannah in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who found herself just as Mother Theresa had described.  She was a widow with two young boys who not only found themselves naked, hungry and homeless, but unwanted, unloved and uncared for.  They were without hope, living in under a sheet of plastic on a street when World Vision found them and reached out to help.  

Since that day Hannah and her boys, Masfin and Yeabsira, have hope.  World Vision has helped Hannah and her boys find a home, granted, it’s made of mud, dung and straw and is smaller than the bathroom in my hotel room, but it’s a home.  Sponsorship has helped the boys enroll in school, and dream about what their future holds, Masfin, in fact, shared that he wants to be a doctor, because he wants to help take care of others.  This is a dream that now lives because someone thought Masfin was worth investing a dollar a day in!  


Clive and Martina, World Vision sponsors

Those people are Clive and Martina, his sponsors.  When I asked if he knew his sponsors, he proudly reached for a picture that was kept in a place of honor in their home with all of the other family photos.  Hannah expressed the love that they had for them, because their kindness was changing their family’s life and giving them hope!

World Vision sponsorship is much more about, “Teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime; than giving a man a fish and feeding him for the day.”  Yes, World Vision is making sure that Hannah and her boys have what they need, but they are also making it possible for the boys to do well in school.  They have provided a means to making some money by purchasing Hannah a washer and dryer so that she could start a business, which is now flourishing in her neighborhood.  The ability that Hannah now has to help provide for her family has built her self-confidence.  She and the boys are still living on less than $2 a day, but they are so grateful that the love from people like Clive and Martina, are giving them hope and dreams for the boys’ futures.

Mother Theresa, who spent her life caring of the poor and the leper, said it so well, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, Feed just ONE!”  You feeding and pouring into just ONE boy like Masfin can make a World of difference!  Clive and Martina’s love for this ONE boy, has transformed his entire family.  Their love for this ONE boy has sparked dreams of a life beyond the slums of Africa, a life lived helping those less fortunate.  Thanks for taking time TODAY to find the ONE World Vision child that you’ll invest in!  Let’s CHANGE the World, ONE Child at a time, visit http://www.worldvision.org/Love-around-the-world today!