I just returned from a trip to Africa. This first part of the trip was an amazing safari experience seeing wildlife and landscape we’ll never forget. We saw God’s creative mind in the variety of the animal kingdom and beautiful countryside. We got up close and personal to the animals. We were about 10 feet from lion cubs at one point. (Inside a vehicle of course!) It was glorious…an experience of a lifetime!
Our accommodations at this game reserve were amazing. We were truly “in the bush” while in the lap of luxury at the same time. The lodge and the staff were top notch. It was so enjoyable and comfortable.
Then we left there to visit my son who lives in a small town in Uganda. He works in a non-profit organization there. It was a several hour drive on dirt roads to get there. Uganda only has a few paved roads in the entire country. Seeing the country, the people, and how they live was an exercise in contrasts.
Uganda is extremely poor. Many people still live in one-room huts with no running water or electricity. Many have no floor. Most walk wherever they go and there are very few jobs. There were schools everywhere, but we noticed most of the children were barefoot as they played on the playground or walked to and from school. It appeared that we had left one world for a completely opposite one with needs beyond the scope of our imagination.
I’m proud of our son and those like him. They’re doing a great work there. They are helping people reach new levels and learn to support themselves in a very destitute, under-developed society. It was so gratifying to see him as well as others doing such great work.
Our world has such contrasts. Some so easily tug at our hearts because of the immense needs that are seen. Others’ needs are sometimes veiled to us because of their surrounding wealth. We tend to be blinded to spiritual needs when there are no physical needs. It hit me as I was processing what I was seeing because I know the bottom line is that both “worlds” ultimately need the same thing…Jesus. While we were in the lodge, I kept praying for and thinking about the need of the manager and workers to know Jesus. What a difference He would make in their lives. Then, as I saw the people in such poverty and saw their physical needs, but realizing in that same moment that their greatest need is the same….Jesus. We may need to help feed and clothe some to earn the voice that shares Christ. We may need to befriend the wealthy and minister in a different way there to earn that voice. BUT, ultimately their need is the same… Jesus.
The truth is the most critical need in either wealth or poverty is the same. Jesus Christ is the Savior, the way, the truth and the life. We have done a great thing when we help feed someone. Jesus says we should do that, but if they’re still bound for eternity in hell we have only temporarily helped. Besides, He is the only One who can change the culture of a person, a family or society. He is not only the only way to salvation, but the only way to bring about true change in the world. We must feed. We must train. We must challenge. But, in all these, we must preach the gospel for it is the only way to change the world.
I’m so thankful we have a God who is not a respecter of persons. He loves all and it matters not about the “station” in society. He loves period. He is love. Oh that we would not forget that his love is the answer no matter the question.