Friday, August 25, 2006

Kenya? Ken je? Can ya?

I've been thinking about Todd today... I've been thinking quite a bit about Todd -- and I've been thinking quite about about Africa.

Actually, Fridays quite typically cause me to think about Africa. But I am especially mindful of Africa this Friday because my good friend and colleague is there -- in Kenya (see some of Todd's recent posts for further explanation of his mission).

In case you're curious, the reason that Fridays usually make me think about Africa is because I've recently been choosing not to eat on Fridays, as a way of emotionally and practically linking myself to the problems of famine and disease in the developing countries of the world. This decision goes back to a time of personal reflection upon Proverbs 27:7 from last spring. And while I typically believe that fasting is not meant to be a public affair... I think this particular discipline is different from the typical spiritual fast.

My Friday fasting is meant to draw attention (primarly my own attention) to the problems of hungry people in other parts of the world. When I get hungry, I remember to pray for those who experience involuntary hunger on a regular basis. When situations arise in which other people ask me why I'm choosing not to eat (and seriously, it's amazing to realize how much food I get casually offered in a regular day, and how many of our social interactions are organized around the consumption of food!), I can initiate a dialogue about the problems in Africa and some ideas for potential solutions.

Then in considering possible solutions -- and in observing the practical outworkings of my Friday fasting -- I begin to realize how much of the key to world change is tied up in incremental changes that I can slowly and increasingly implement within my own life. For me, I had noticed a pattern in which I would typically spend anywhere from €5 to €25 on eating out each Friday (which tended to be a more expensive day in my week, almost always including a lunch, sometimes a supper, and often a cup of coffee or such). So I figured if I could cut out that money (which actually adds up quickly to probably €70 to €75 per month), then I could have some extra money to contribute toward charitable organizations focusing on development in the "Third World" (particularly in Africa). And because my shift from extra spending to extra sparing on Fridays was an incremental change -- actually a rather subtle adjustment to my life, in the overall scheme of things -- I've been able to maintain consistency, and my heart has actually grown for Africa in the last six months or so...

As time goes on, I believe that I (or anyone else who is willing to take such baby steps) will find more areas where such substitutions can be made. And in time, it will be like the farewell scene from "Schindler's List" where we'll realize how each watch, each cufflink, each adornment could have been another life saved. But contrary to the grand campaigns to wipe out poverty in a single swipe, I believe it all starts with incremental steps of faith.

Our family has started talking more about Africa recently -- especially with Todd in Africa right now. We're praying more for Africa. We're thinking up creative ways to involve our children in meeting the practical needs of children throughout the world (so don't be surprised if someday Elliot tries to sell you a cookie or glass of homemade lemonade, in order to offset the cost of mosquito nets for children in malaria-stricken portions of Africa). We're also currently in the process of researching possibilities for participating in an "Adopt-a-Child" type program that will further humanize the issues of hunger and poverty in the world today, and we hope that bit-by-bit we can make further incremental steps toward changing the world. By the way, we're particularly interested to find a child that we can support in Niger (there's a long story behind why we want to focus on that particular country that I may choose to tell another time) -- but we haven't found a lot of leads in this direction yet. So if anyone has any leads for us, or other suggestions for incremental steps, please let us know.

I hope that maybe this post stirs your heart a bit, too, and pushes you a small bit closer toward incremental changes that will revolutionize the world.

3 Comments:

At 4:47 AM, Blogger Annie said...

Eric,

This post DID stir my heart. More than just a bit. Thanks for helping me think more clearly. Feel free to read the longer response on my blog.

With you, Ann

http://ann-rannebarger.spaces.live.com/

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

I enjoyed the post on your own blog, Ann, with the more extended version of the thoughts of your mind and feelings of your heart that were stirred by my post... I actually tried to leave a comment directly on your blog, but it wouldn't let me post anything without signing up for a new blog (which I didn't really want). So at any rate, I'm glad that you're trying to implement similar incremental changes to your everyday life. I hope and pray that it goes well for you!

 
At 2:07 AM, Blogger Jenni said...

Eric, thanks for your thoughts. I have been struck lately by the enormity of the needs in Africa. It seems God is stirring this up in many hearts. Half of my prayer letter this month was about Africa (which I'll put on my blog soon) and being in the HQ I get to experience so many churches and people who specifically feel called to do things in Africa. 2 women here in Orlando and myself are planning to be a part of a team from Orlando that goes next June. Thanks for your thoughts- I really appreciated it. Have you heard of a book called Hope in the Dark? It's a photographer and a friend who put it together and it's very thought-provoking. Anyway, thanks for all you are doing to change the world.

 

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