Why Go to Africa?

IMG_0325Sitting in a church in Colorado years ago, I stared at the maps on the walls with photos of missionary families stuck to them, and thought,

“In a million years I would never be a Christian missionary.”

This July, I am traveling to Zambia, Africa to be a Christian missionary. Something I’ve talked about here and here and here. As you can see it didn’t take a million years, it took a decade. Maybe God can work with me after all.

But I vacillate constantly. I know in my gut the Lord wants me to go, but I don’t get why I have to fly to the other side of the world to spend two weeks in a bush school, with 100 kids and five unpaid, overworked staff. Doesn’t my big American self just add to their burden? And what about all the money it takes to get there? Why don’t I just raise it and send it to Pastors Jasper and Zion, then stay home and pray for them furiously?

Honestly, what impact can I reasonably expect in to have in 14 days or less, that justifies the cost of the endeavor?

The answer I think is this:563041_3989032717092_1447014515_n-1

It’s not really about Jasper and Zion and the children of Chongwe.

It’s about me, and I know I’m not supposed to say that.

I’m supposed to say, I’m bringing my servant’s heart to an orphanage, where I will repair plumbing, plant gardens, tend to medical needs and share the love of Christ. And to the best of my ability, I will do those things.

But what if it’s my life that’s meant to be changed – not theirs?¬†

  • What if Zambia ruins my comfortable American life?
  • What if it forces me to really obey Jesus, by caring for widows and orphans there and in the US?
  • What if I’m humbled by the relentless service of people who feed and educate 100 children every day for free?
  • What if I can bring it home and replicate it?
  • What if my experience in Zambia gets you thinking about social justice, salvation and ways to make your life matter more – especially if you are a follower of Jesus?

Is that worth the money?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:5

Telise (left) Fidelise (right)

Telise (left) Fidelise (right)

That’s what I want. That’s why I’m going. My gift to them may be pumpkins or prayer or pvc, but their gift to me might just be bigger, richer faith.

This is a weird way to ask for money but that’s what I’m doing. Through the loving support of my friends and family I have raised $2500 of the $4200 mission cost. Will you help me with the rest?

In addition, two of the ten orphans Pastor Jasper and Zion are raising, cousins Telise and Fidelise, need tuition and uniforms for high school. I think it’s $400 per three-month term, each. I’m believing God for that as well. How cool is it that a month of Starbucks cash can send Zambian kids to school? Sorry Starbucks.Online fundraising for Team Kirk to Zambia 2013

Many people have said to me, “Wow, I wish I could go to Africa too.” By funding this mission YOU CAN! Because I plan to pour out what we have on Zambia, fill up with what they have for us, and bring it all home to you.

Maybe together we can make something beautiful.

SCRUBS¬† Medical Mission is a registered 501(c)3 and all donations are tax-deductible. You can find out more about them here. If you’d rather send a check, write it to SCRUBS with Erin Kirk in the memo line. Mail it to SCRUBS Medical Mission 15434 Brittain Court, Lindale, Texas 75771

How Do I Defend An Orphan?

Before the industrial revolution, the average income per person in the wealthiest nations was only about four times higher than that of the poorest nations. Today, the average American lives on $90+ per day and 2.6 billion people, 40% of the world, live on less than $2.

That data came from When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself, which I’m reading because I have the chance to go to Zambia this summer, and I’m scared of my very white, very rich, very good intentions.

But I’m more scared of doing nothing.

Right now in Chongwe, Zambia there are four women and one man running a school/orphanage in the bush, with jacked up plumbing and 100 variously malnourished kids – and they do it for free. Tim and Holly from Scrubs Medical Mission came to cowboy church looking for a few contractors, plumbers and farmers to go help. I’ll go in a heartbeat, but I’m learning to ask God about these things before running out for typhoid shots.

Here’s what the Bible says about orphans:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27

Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

Whoever receives a child in My name, receives Me. Matthew 18:5

If anyone has material possession and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? IJohn 3:17

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

Authors Steve Corbett and Dr. Brian Fikkert put it this way: “If God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments were to have a concern for the poor during eras of relative economic equality, what are we to conclude about God’s desire for the North American church today?”

But we have to be smart because we know development solutions formulated in a rectory in Cleveland, don’t always translate in Africa, but that hardly relieves us from the duty. The God I say I believe commands me take care of the widow, the poor, the immigrant and the orphan, just like he commanded the Nation of Israel. They failed at it too.

Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. James 1:22

So I’m praying and surrendering my assumptions and educating myself about these June 2010 002exact people, in this exact location, so I don’t hurt them with my ignorance. God knows I’m ignorant, obese with blessing and unequal to the task, but he also knows I can build simple irrigation systems in arid places.

Maybe I can help.

I don’t know if I’m going yet. I’ll keep you posted.