As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, Emmanuel, may this letter from Jon and Cher Cadd to their supporters help put things in perspective. Jon and Cher serve in east Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As we have lately been focusing on our many blessings, the Lord has reminded us that we are among the very, very few in this world who have so much, both physically and spiritually. In this Internet age it is possible for us to actually witness the suffering and poverty of people all over the world, practically as it happens. I struggle with how to respond appropriately to such overwhelming need and with how seeing daily local, as well as global, physical and spiritual poverty affects our daily lives so little. Even living rather simply here in an African village there is no denying that we are still, by world standards and statistics, very wealthy people. Why us?
I was talking to our son, Josh, the other day and I told him of an idea I had for how to actually experience the daily life of, probably, 90% of the people in the world. It went sort of like this: Leave your house in what you are wearing at this very moment. Take nothing else. Now go out into the yard and build a kids’ fort out of sticks and mud, even if it is raining. IF you can talk a neighbor out of a very small tent, you can use that instead. But not one of your own. Now take ALL of the food in the house and burn it…all. No toilet. Perhaps more painful, no toilet paper. Take your whole family, including the two-day-old baby and go live in the yard…forever. Get your neighbor to shoot at you occasionally.
A week ago today, a village several miles from us was raided by their neighbors from a militia camp, walking distance away, who came and shot their chief and a little girl and killed a pastor with a machete. They wanted food. A woman I know, personally, ran all night in her pajamas to get here to safety. She lost everything. Today I can see that our blessings enable us to share with her! Happily, sometimes an appropriate response is no mystery.
What an amazing God we have who loves all people so much that he chose to actually identify with poverty and suffering, living a life not too unlike my little backyard scenario and suffering terrible persecution and torture for our sakes. And what a privilege it is to be able to come here to one of the poorest parts of the world bringing modern transport, medical aid, a friendly face and good news. The people here say that our presence gives them hope. I pray that it will be an extension of the angels’ message of peace and goodwill between God and men. Thank you for sending us.