The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
photography by Anthony Kaetzel
"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you
a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?"
And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to me." Matthew 25:37-40
Often I am asked how I am feeling about going to Ethiopia and Uganda. Excited?! Nervous? And my answer most often has been "Yes. Yes, I am." I think I am nervous and excited. But not so much.
I thought that it had to do with me controlling my feelings about the trip (ummm, I have been known to do that), but lately I have the sense that God has put blinders on me. He is only allowing me to see what He wants me to see. He is not allowing me to look to the side and be spooked or distracted. Just enough sight before me to move ahead to the next day and no further. He knows me. He knows if I have a little bit more in my view that my thinker-type personality would begin to take me over and I would drown in my thoughts.
Because it is overwhelming. I have heard enough of the stories from Anthony (mind you - not all of them) to know I am going to get my socks shocked off my feet through my shoes. That I am going to see poverty the likes that I have never seen. I am going to hear stories of witchcraft and abuses. I am going to smell smells and taste tastes that are so very foreign to me.
And I am going to meet people. Lots of people. Lots and lots of people. So many people. And I am going to want to help... e a c h and e v e r y O N E of them. I am going to want to save them from the lurid situation that they live in. I am going to want to fix it. I am going to want to make a difference in e a c h and e v e r y O N E of them. Can I even make a difference? At all?
Oh, God. The need is too great. There are too many to help. What difference can I make?
An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing it back into the ocean.
"Young lady," he asked, "Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"
"The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die."
"But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference."
The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying,
"It made a difference for that one." ~~ The Starfish Story
And I guess that is where the blinders come in... I sense that God has prompted me to do for one what I wish I could do for everyone. Over two years ago I came across a sermon by Andy Stanley that touched on this very thought. "One, Not Everyone: How can you make a difference in a big world with big needs when everything you have to offer seems, by comparison, small and inadequate?"
Because when I think of ALL the people who need help, I may just get overwhelmed and do nothing at all. If I truly see the need I might start to make excuses. I would realize there's just too many miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it... And who am I?
And so I go. Looking only at that which God has placed before me. Reaching out to the widow who is in my presence. To the orphan who God has placed before me. Knowing that I may not be able to to help everyone I come in contact with, but that I can reach out to the one."If we all did for one what we wish we could do for everyone,
it might change the world.
But certainly, it would change one person's world.
It may even change your world."
~ Andy Stanley
And I will know that
it made a difference for that one.
For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here.