Friday, 05 June 2009

Day 31

A friend of mine runs a big company. He rescued it from failure and is steering it towards success. He is not even 40 and already he’s got the world beneath his feat. A few weeks ago he and his family (wife and two small kids) went to visit one of the many nearby slums. They stayed with the locals and slept in a shack.

They shared life with the men, women and children the world neglects.

No sleeping bags.

No heaters.

No burglar bars and high tech alarm systems.

No credit cards and extra cash for just in case.

Just poverty and life.

His kids played with the children of the slum. His wife walked, talked, laughed and cried with the women of the slum. He had beer and conversations with the men of the slum.

“Why, for God sakes?” I hear someone asks. “They must be crazy. This is Africa, how irresponsible.”

But then the words of the Counter Cultural Rebel Prophet cuts through the bones of scepticism:

“Good news to the poor, always good news to the poor.”

When the life of a powerful and successful CEO becomes enmeshed in the desperate and vulnerable life of people barely holding on, the Good News of Jesus becomes flesh and bones. When the CEO goes back and rearranges his life in terms of values and lifestyle, the power of the Life Giving Spirit kicks in. When this new way of living becomes the reality of some of the friends of the CEO, then something the ancient followers of Jesus called Church, evolves. And when this new type of community gathers steam and rolls down the hills of stereotypes and prejudices towards the valley of understanding, respect and love, a revolution called the kingdom of God is at hand.

Jesus said something about us doing more than he ever dreamed of doing, something bigger and deeper. Something that’s good for all mankind. I think the stuff my friend, his wife and their two children are up to might just be what Jesus hoped his friends would be doing long after he’s gone.


pierre said...

A few days earlier you mentioned that who can be a christian in peak hour traffic. Yet it is very heart sore to see those in the slumb. How are we going to get these two to marry?????

Karen said...

Hi Guys,

When someone “looses it” in Peak hour traffic, it’s because he is so focused on himself and his right-of-way...
However, focusing on those in the slums is a focus away from yourself...
The marriage (solution) to both of these issues is to focus on others, like Jesus did.

There are some things that I would like you to consider though:
Not all slums look the same.
And what you may call a slum may not be a slum, but merely a shack.
Lifestyle and values are not determined by the house you live in.
A Christian community is/should be one where we get involved with our neighbours, without stereotyping and prejudice.
A Christian community is one where we learn/try to understand the person and his circumstances, and treat him with respect and love.
No matter where we/they live – In castles or in slums.
People in castles often donate clothes to the poor, give money, or food to the beggar at the traffic light, drop a coin in the collection tin...
But, do we know about our own sister’s hell?
Do we know of our best friends tears?
Do we EVER really get involved?
Or do we just visit, have a few beers, and then ...we go home.

Fourie Rossouw said...

Karen, brilliant comment. What you say is exactly what I intend to say with the story of my friend. The Kingdom of God happens when lifestyles changes from consuming to giving, when people move from prejudice to respect. You are so right when you say that this movement should happen in all form of "slum" living, whether it's in physical poverty or when it comes to the poverty of the soul. In the stories told by the friends of Jesus we find two accounts of the sermon on the mount where Jesus speaks of happiness. Luke writes about physical poverty and Mathew about depression of the spirit, which is also a form of poverty.

Pierre, the post about traffic was not about traffic at all, but rather about the overwhelming feeling taht something's not right with our (my) world. And the call of Jesus to change it, to live the difference, instead of being the problem, is really very tricky.