So I'm involved with this organization called Mocha Club, that basically is all about connecting communities in the US with communities in Africa. You start out by giving $7 a month (the approximate price of two mochas) and this money goes to the Mocha Club project of your choice. They have many projects going at any given time including HIV, child mothers, orphan care, job creation and education. Mocha Club is kicking off a new campaign called "I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me".
So I've been thinking about it a lot. It's something that I was already coming to believe way before this campaign started. For so long, those of us in the west have simply looked at Africa as a place of charity. A place where there is only death and starvation and darkness. The media portrays Africans as victims and as statistics. As numbers and not humans. A people to be pitied. You rarely see their laughter or their smiles.
But there's so much that we don't understand about them. And while there is SOME truth in those previous statements, I have been coming to see and believe that there very well may be more to be pitied about us who live in the west. And there is so much more than just pain and darkness in Africa right now. There is beauty and there is hope and there is redemption. No, I haven't seen it face-to-face (yet), but I have been reading their stories and listening to their conversations. A people who are staring death and suffering in the face but are doing it with strength and courage and faith - a faith that I don't know if I understand or have. But I want it. I want the faith that they have. I want to see and know the God that they see and know.
My best friend, Ashley, lived in Uganda for a year. When she came back I remember her telling me, "Melanie, they believe in a God that is so much bigger than the One we believe in. Their prayers are so big. Their faith is so amazing." I recently got this book called "Hope in the Dark" (amazing book...please buy it). In it, Jena Lee (the executive director of Blood:Water Mission) writes about a conversation she had with a man in Africa:
"We know that Americans pity Africans," he told me. "But sometimes I think Africans pity Americans."
"How so?" I asked him.
"Americans seem to expect that everything will be provided for them. For us," he said, "this ear of corn is a gift from God. This evening's rain is a shower of mercy upon us. This healthy breath is life-giving. And maybe tomorrow we will not have such things, but our hearts are so full from God's provision."
I need Africa. I need to see hope in a dark world. I need to see people in communities that love and care for one another's needs. I need to see people who aren't living under the weight and idolatry of materialism. I need to see people who have TRUE joy and peace, not the counterfeits that many of us in the west have settled for.
I have come to learn in the past few weeks that I have a distorted view of what I "need" as opposed to what I desire. God has been revealing to me that in reality, there is absolutely nothing outside of Him that I need. Seriously, in the end, what else is there? This is not a new concept to me. But He is actually making this real to me for possibly the first time in my life. And it's not that I want there to be nothing I desire that compares to Him; I don't want to desire anything besides Him. I want to be able to say with David, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Psalm 73:25). Ah, I wanna be there. I'm not there...but I want to be. And Africa shows me a people who are aware of their deepest need. They love God for God...not because of what He gives, but because of who He is. Their love for Him is pure and their faith in Him is huge. They may not own much, but what they do have is what I want more than anything.
This is why I need Africa more than Africa needs me.
I want to go so badly...I want to connect with them as my brothers and sisters. hmmm....November '09