Answering the Call: a post by the girl in the Miller Family
I’ve been mulling over writing a post for our website for a while now without being entirely sure where to begin. In theory, I want you to read it and be captivated. I would love for you to care, and understand, and feel amazingly empowered and responsible suddenly. Now, how many of you just paused and contemplated reading some emails, cooking dinner, or even folding the laundry? I don’t blame you, but I hope that you’ll read anyway 🙂
A while back, I was talking on the phone to a relative I love very much. I won’t name any names, and if you wanna’ guess I’m talking about you, you’re probably wrong (I love you too, just don’t assume you’re being singled out here). While talking to this person about Tyler and my upcoming visit to Sierra Leone in February for a week (we have some details to iron out), I casually suggested “hey, you should come with us”. Our conversation suddenly wasn’t so casual. And then there was silence. I was excited. I thought perhaps they were considering my proposal. Then I heard “oh no. I can’t. That’d make me sad. I’d probably cry the whole time and I cant handle that”.
Let me say that this wasn’t the first time I’ve had this sort of response and it’s certainly not an uncommon feeling. Even if most of us wont readily admit that. You see, were comfortable. We like what is familiar and safe. We don’t like to be made to feel guilty or responsible. And when we see something we don’t like, or that causes a stirring inside of us, we can so easily shut it off and put it away. I say “we” because this includes me too. I am not writing this to judge anyone. I am no better than anyone and I am in no shape to point a finger. I like comforts. I like having nice things, and I crave stability and the familiar. And I don’t want to feel guilty about it.
But just for this post, let’s explore why we would feel guilt over those things.
Picture this: You decide to go to Sierra Leone. You have just been on a plane or in an airport for about 20 hours, give or take a little. You finally arrive in the Freetown Airport and all the luxuries of the past airports are long gone. You see a mass of people jammed together and hear shouting in strange accents all around you that you’re struggling to make sense of. You’re pushed and shoved all around and you smell dirt, and garbage and smoke. It’s loud, and its not the usual, and its certainly not home. You can only think of getting back on that plane and going somewhere far away from here that’s cleaner. You climb into a car and are taken to the village you’re visiting. You arrive in the middle of the night and find the “room” you’re occupying. You lie your head on a sofa pillow, and sleep on a 2″ foam mattress with a “box spring” of sand, over which hangs a white mosquito net… you hope to wake up somewhere different.
Morning finally breaks. You wake up and see things in the daylight. There’s trees and mountains, and beaches and ocean, and green grass. You wander into the village of people. You’re greeted by smiling faces, and the happy voices of children, and the smell of fish roasting in the smoke house. Nothing seems bad anymore. It’s true that it’s poverty in every sense of the word. There are kids that are dirty and naked. There are woman hunched over pounding rice in their pestle for their family to eat that night. The kids are picking up garbage to sell for money or collecting sticks to keep the family fire burning. The men are on the hot beaches mending their nets or in boats trying to muster up a catch large enough to sell some and maybe even keep some. Everyone works and everyone tries.
So lets forget the statistics. Nevermind you’re in the poorest country in the ENTIRE world, and that 69% of the population is muslim, forget that it ranks one of the highest places for infant and maternal mortality. Those are truths, but its easy to see numbers and not people when we do that.
These are all children of God. These are faces of a loving community that is struggling to survive and are in desperate need of help. They desperately need women and children’s health care facilities outside of the hospitals. They need to be able to send all the kids in their country to school so they can learn to be literate and have a better future. They need to learn trades outside of fishing, which isn’t enough, to help them grow as a country. They especially need Jesus, and the HOPE he brings. They need to know His love and in turn their own worth and value.
And so, Yes, you do feel guilty being there… SEEING it. You are now unable to shy away, or hide from it. You feel guilt because you suddenly realize you’ve yet to have had a real, honest need before. You know that you can always find something to eat, almost all of you will have never have to sleep on a bed of logs with no barrier between you and the outdoors. You have never feared for your child’s life because you can’t afford the trip from the village to the hospital (which amounts to about 1 us dollar), or the medical care needed thereafter. You have all your needs met, and likely, way more. And you realize that what you spent last week, to go to the movies or get your hair done, could abruptly and intensely change the life of the little girl smiling right at you.
Ok. Now, lets go back to my family member. I don’t judge them or misunderstand their position in the least. I only want them to come and experience, so that they can see I’m not just describing a statistic or a need. I’m describing a group of people. Equal in all important ways to us all. I KNOW that this loved one of mine could make a huge difference if they would just be open to it.
That is why were moving to Africa. We are specifically called to go help these people. God brought this to our attention and we are ready and willing to do all we can to help. I had no interest in moving all the way to Africa. I was comfortable and I liked knowing what to expect. We didn’t make this decision on a whim or without LOADS of prayer. Truthfully, I wrestled with my selfishness for months on this. When I was finally honest with myself; open and obedient to what God was saying, and when I finally allowed myself to SEE the need, I couldn’t say “no” anymore.
We are not all called to Africa. Were not all even called to leave our towns. Although, we are ALL called to help meet the needs of others. As Bible believing, Bible following Christians, we are called to love and help others. You’ll not find a single verse that says “to love to the level or measure you’re comfortable with”. The long answer of why were going is…To help the people gain knowledge and skills to better support themselves, and ultimately to share with them the love of Jesus. The short answer is… God told us to. There is no better reason than that.
It is my hope that this post will help you better understand the needs we are called to go meet. With knowing, comes caring. With caring, comes change.
My next post will be about our specific, detailed roles we will be fulfilling in order to make the difference we are so passionate about. I will also be writing about the very undeniable way God led us to this choice, and how you can help. I hope you’ll come back! THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading!