At New Life, we've been talking about "the Kingdom" and what it means to pray for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven. This means thinking about things, both big and small, in terms of how God's kingdom might come right here, right now. The bulk of the work is small.
Last Sunday was a big day for me though. A representative from Compassion International brought 100 pictures of children who need sponsors. He also brought along George, a Kenyan man, perhaps my age, who was the first child to be sponsored in his specific project in Nairobi, back in the 80s. Right now, he is getting his MBA and wants to go into public health in Kenya, specializing in infectious diseases.
I got to go out to lunch with George and some others. I also got to man one of the Compassion tables and watch as people searched the faces to find their child. After hearing George's stories about life in Kenya, the impact $35 a month makes, the kind of changes that can happen in a country at the hands of its children--I knew that these flat-broke college students were going to see God's kingdom come in their midst in big and small ways. I'm not sure I've ever been this sure that I am right in the thick of it. Right here, right now.
My second book of 2008 was The Kite Runner. If you feel willing to open the floodgates of your inner sanctum, go ahead and read it. I wasn't totally prepared--that's why I'm warning you. I'm unsure about how to talk about it. The general plotline is a major stretch, particularly towards the end. The prose is often beautiful, but then sometimes I felt insulted by the author, like, "Thanks, but I was catching on to that on my own."
I guess it doesn't really matter, though, because the characters were so real. Since the vast majority of the book takes place in modern Afghanistan, the characters were also in a whole lot of pain, and the things that happened to them were unimaginable; also unimaginably commonplace, as if they weren't that big of a deal.
There is a character named Ali, who had polio as a child and thus walks with a limp, swinging one leg out to the side with each stride. There were little boys. It's hard to even think about them.
The question that rolled through my mind right after I finished the book was: How would I react if I could truly confront the fact that these things happen to real people, not just to characters in books? It was 4AM, during that sick time when I wasn't sleeping much, and I asked God to send me rejected children to adopt someday.
I remember wondering if I'd care as much about this when I woke up the next day.
I think I still care, I really do. Kevin and I chose a Compassion boy named Johnston, who's 14, and just not that cute anymore. My guess is he's been waiting for several years to get a sponsor. The older ones rarely, if ever, get picked, because those little three-year-olds are absolutely irresistible. Still, Johnston, I have to say, it's good to know you. I hope to meet you.
I have to ask myself if I am writing this to proclaim my good deeds before men. If you like me more, whomever it is that reads this, then I guess that's my reward.
But truly, this what I'm thinking about these days. This is what is on my mind. I am overwhelmed and moved by the lonely and rejected, the ones that nobody wants. I want those people to know the love of Jesus through me. I really really do.