Friday, February 08, 2008

Gratitude

Tonight's post was written by my 18 year old son, Joel.

Joel is a good kid, tall and thin, with narrow hips and a head covered with an unruly mop of naturally curly blonde hair that obviously will forever resist taming. He has a girlfriend, an ipod, and a job at MacDonald's. He helps to run the sound system at church each week. This is his last year of high school and he has no idea yet what he wants to do next year or with the rest of his life. We talked late last night, and he told me that he couldn't understand anyone being depressed. "We have so much to be thankful for," he said. Yeah. He's got that much right...

Joel Stewart:

Imagine living in Kibera. Africa’s second largest slum, home to anywhere between 6 and 12 million people. It’s impossible to know exactly how many live there. Essentially, they don’t have a home. There'll be no place to call your own. 600,000 people filling up each square kilometer with no high-rises makes it difficult to claim land for one’s self. On a dime, your cheap, poorly built shack shared by several families could be torn down at any moment without notice by the government if they were to decide they need that particular patch of God-forsaken land. You own nothing, literally, but the one set of clothes you wear on you back.

Are you thirsty? Just follow the terrible smell of rotting sewage to the river to find Kibera’s finest drink. The only problem is that you won’t feel the buzz before you pass out from the liquid you find there - the area’s only “water” source. You might wake up with a little more than a headache after imbibing some of this sewage/water system. But there is nothing else to satisfy your thirst. And the sun is insufferably hot. You could end up sick – if not dead – from the bacteria, and parasites that thrive there..

Oh, not so thirsty after all? Let’s go find some food. There might be a bite to eat at the local dump. (And yes I literally mean a bite.) If you’re lucky, you can afford to buy some food in Nairobi after working your regular 90 hour week.. just to survive.

All done eating and drinking? That was fast. Now we need to figure out how to dispose of… “the scraps”. The local washrooms are wonderful to use. They would be a little room with two or three holes in the ground and it smells just as good in there as it looks. But using one is only a treat for when you can afford the cost of admission. Most of the time, you go in a “flying toilet”; a bag that you do your duty in and then throw out the window and into the street.

It’s not all bad though. Your kids would love to grow up there. They will never be forced to take a bath, or go to school. Sometimes, with the help of AIDS, the children don’t have to take orders from their parents at all and they can live life the way they want to. Just be careful kids, don’t talk to strangers… or let them know you have anything of any value at all. And if you’re really lucky, you can find something in the garbage to play with. If you have time to play after using all your energy just to find some rotting bit of something to pop, unwashed, into your mouth, anything to squash that rumbling pain in your belly.

The fact is that Kibera is one example of many slums on this so-called wonderful world that we live in. Canada is doing a great job of providing people in our own country so many luxuries while others are still scavenging for life’s barest necessities. We are soaring into space while they are still trying to find their way above ground. We, as decent citizens of the earth, must not let people live like this when we waste so much. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s help. Let’s do what we can.

4 comments:

Belinda said...

Joel, you made me grateful for all we have and ashamed that I don't do more for others.

Paul and I just came back from a fundraising Valentines banquet and auction for Christian Horizons' global ministries. Much good work is being done all over the world and we heard of lives being changed. We can't do everything, but we can all do something.

Arthur said...

I realized today that I waste more money in "Smoke" in one week than some people in other counties earn in an entire year!

If that isn't an incentive to quit, I don't know what is, (apart from the effects on my health, that is.)

I plan on spending the money I save by quitting on adopting a child or two in some impoverished nation.

Angcat said...

Wow Joel, you write like your Mom, excellent use of words. I could see, and taste everything you were talking about.
It is scandalous, but we can do something. We have friends at church who started an orphanage in another slum in Nairobi and they are making a difference in the lives of about 90 children, a drop in the bucket when you're faced with millions, but if we each did something...
Way to go...press on...that compassionate heart is leading you to just where God wants you to go.
Angela

Joyful Fox said...

Joel,

Thank you for your words. God is raising your generation for such a time as this. Don't stop listening to your heart. Let your passion stir you to do great things for God.

In times past, there have been World Wars, depression, and other incredibly difficult times. At each time, God rose up people for the cause. Men and women who fought bravely for a cause. Peace for all, regardless of race.

Now there's a world out there where the vulnerable are being trampled. Children are scandalously being used for the sex-trade, driven by the lusts of men who let their passions run wild..all began by saying, "anything goes." Children, over the world live in abject poverty and in Africa...boys are torn from their huts at tender ages to fight in wars that bring no peace. There are abundant atrocities done to people who are vulnerable -people who can neither help or harm them.

So God is raising up a generation that have eyes to see, a passion of heart, and then the courage to go forth and do what must be done.

Our North American society no longer has epidemics of influenza. We are ravaged with the disease of affluenza, as you so aptly wrote in your post. We like our creature-comforts, we are filled with greed for more -food, drink, possessions. When will it end?

You are the generation. We are all responsible. May we empower you, and not be fearful of the cost.

To God be the glory, Joel.
Don't become complacent. Let that passion stir you to do mighty things for His kingdom.