Wednesday, September 21, 2011


What is hope? How can we practice hope?

I've been thinking about answers to these questions... the thoughts mainly prompted by my reading of the book UnPoverty by Mark Lutz and also by the still vivid experiences that our family lived through during our recent missions immersion trip to the Philippines.

The *HOPE* sign... in our front yard.

We arrived Manila in the darkness of night, during the hours between midnight and dawn... exhausted from travelling for over 24 hours since we left our home here in Toronto. We were very happy to finally collapse into the comfortable beds awaiting us at the house where we were being hosted at by our family.

Morning came... we were eager to get going and see Manila in daylight. Upon exiting the subdivision gates {note: security-guarded gated community}, this is the first thing we saw... well, these were the very first people we met, figuratively speaking. Talk about being confronted head-on by the contrast between luxury and extreme poverty... something that is so very evident all over the Philippines, especially in the big cities like Manila.

A little boy knocked on the window as our car stopped at the first traffic lights, just outside the gated community where we were staying. He was begging... for food, for money, for anything really. He could not have been more than six years old.

As I rummaged in my back-pack for some cereal bars to give him, I looked out the window and saw that he wasn't alone. What I saw broke my heart even more.

Holding his hand, standing beside him, begging alongside him, yet cannot be seen in the photo above because she is much, much shorter than the bottom of the car window... was a little girl. I am assuming her to be his sister. She could not have been more than two years old. Yes, not more than two years old!

Two bare-footed, raggedly-dressed, hungry, dirty and very young children. No parents in sight. Left on their own to fend for themselves...

"Where is hope?" I asked myself.

At that moment, I knew God was going to use this trip to change our family... to break our hearts for the things that break His heart.

Throughout the trip, I found myself asking the same questions over and over again. Where is hope? Where do these people find hope, see hope, experience hope? And... where do I fit in? How can I practice hope?

Then... we met our Compassion child Florianlyn and two other Compassion children, Jhon Sim and Julius. And then... we met Compassion LDP student, Rochelle.

It was through experiencing how these Compassion children and their families live life, impoverished yet full of hope, that I was reminded how hope is expressed and realized...
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV 1984)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:23-24, NIV 1984)
They have faith, therefore they can hope.
They know The One who is faithful.
The difference truly is Jesus!

It was seeing hope in the midst of atrocity and dire poverty that spurred me on towards more love and more good deeds. My awareness prompting me to more action.

The following is an excerpt from the book Unpoverty by Mark Lutz... words that are so fitting to wrap up the thoughts I've expressed above:
So how do you and I respond to our awareness? ...broken hearts aren't enough. Awareness must lead to action.
What I find so exciting and hopeful is that it doesn't take much for us to help transform hopelessness into success. Today, most of us will use our credit cards to buy something we don't really need, the price of which would provide emergency food relief for a family in Rwanda, for a month or set someone up in Cambodia with a loan to start a business. I don't say that to make you feel guilty but to expand your vision.
In the Anglican tradition there is a wonderful liturgical refrain that is repeated by the congregation throughout particular prayers. Speaking on behalf of the group, the priest recites a brief commitment to God regarding a specific action. At the end of each statement, the group responds in unison, "I will, with God's help." This recognizes that God frequently calls us to behavior that is counterintuitive, and that we need extra grace and strength to swim against life's stream.
As I reflect on the poverty in the world and the undeserved place of privilege that I enjoy, I resolve afresh to let my own awareness prompt me to action. Will you join me?
"I will, with God's help."
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1 comment:

  1. I will, with God's help! We spoke these words just two weeks ago in the baptismal service of our daughters. It encompasses so much more than just what that service was about.