The kids were rewarded for delivering drugs! That’s all I remember from my college spring break trip to Washington D.C. We handed out food in a soup kitchen, took children from the inner city to an outer park to show them what green grass looked like (called the “Fresh Air Program”) and visited a “safe house” in the middle of a block; this particular block of tall apartment buildings was where children were taught to deliver the illegal drugs, to keep their parents out of jail.
The baby never left the papoose on the Navajo Indian reservation where I stayed one summer. Children were everywhere, but they all lived with their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents in a two-room house with a hole in the roof (used as a chimney). The accommodations seemed impossible; I actually wished they would all go inside for a minute so I could see how they fit. While a team of us were replacing their roofs in 110 degree weather, the entire family of 16 stood around outside and marveled. Women and children came and went with buckets of water, carrying them from a nearby well. There was no running water or electricity, and barely a roof. This seemed like a third-world within our own US boundaries: outside of Newcomb, NM.
Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Brazil to visit the MORE Project. The charity has a center in the heart of the Brazilian favelas. As we walked through the “town”, only in daylight for safety, gang members seemed to be watching on every corner. We walked on slatted boards, under which the sewage ran and the smell wafted upward. We came to a home where several of the “More Project kids” lived. A 15-yr-old was in charge, holding the baby in her arms as the multiple others sat still to stare at us strangers. Later, we determined the baby belonged to the 15-yr-old. On the next block, two 13-yr-old girls approached, dressed as if they were 20. We were told the sad story of their choice to leave the MORE Project and go into prostitution for $1 a night. “They know no different,” Sergio said. “It is what is done here, until someone steps in and teaches otherwise.”
As I returned from each of the above trips, it was so hard to acclimate (even though they were less than one week each!). How do I spend $75 to put gas into my sport utility when there is such need? How do I take a hot shower every day and think, “There is no food in this house,” with a full pantry. Did I really think “I have nothing to wear” to that wedding? Ugh. Perspective. I wish I would never lose it.
As we remember the Holy Week this week – the anniversary marking the last days of Jesus’s life on earth, I am thankfully given perspective. As He was beaten, mocked, and deserted, Jesus didn’t retaliate, nor even speak in defense, but played the part that God had designed. He “drank the cup” and died the death, so that I may live eternally. As we remember Him, may we keep the eternal perspective that He intended. He cares about the children in DC, the Navajo Indians, the Brazilian favelas, and even me. We are blessed indeed. Life: May we keep it in perspective.
John 17:23 “ I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”