“I will say go away from Me, I do not know you!” Matt 25:41

During my time in Ghana, I wrote some of the encouraging things I have seen over the past days of Samaritan's Purse distribution. We were able to complete the task of delivering the Shoe Boxes to over 15,000 children as well as the message of the "Greatest Gift" of Christ to all who gathered around to hear. There were many MORE thousands who heard the great love of God and the sacrifice He made on their (and our) behalf.
Throughout our week long distribution there have been many unforgettable and amazing sites. Thousands of children gathered on schoolyards, under mango trees and found at the end of very long rutted, rocky and rugged roads. I have tried to describe the surprise, the delight, the joy that overwhelmed them as they opened their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and curiously tried to figure out some of the strange contents enclosed. Since “Play Dough” now comes in vibrant colors and odors such as strawberry, grape and lime – it is a bit of an education process to convince them it is for “shaping” and not for “eating”.

But not every surrounding site was joyful. At every location of our distribution there were hundreds of “other” children. School children in lower grades, some in tattered hand-me-down uniforms from their older brothers and sisters, most shoeless, and many with tears - as they began to understand there was nothing for them. And then there were the village children. They came in from the fields and their chores of carrying water or firewood for their families, and watched. The facilitators of the school constantly had to push them back away from the children in queues and tell them "this is NOT FOR YOU". Their parents seated on the “sidelines” watching as sometimes literally thousands of boxes where placed into the hands of the lucky ones in line.

Towards the end of each distribution as the queues grew shorter, the cartons emptying – the villagers would move towards us, saying “Something for us?” Often times the women would fight the school teachers for the empty cartons. To what use they would be put to I wouldn’t even venture to guess, perhaps new flooring for their huts or less kindling they would have to gather for the next fire? I’m not sure, but arguments always followed, emptiness.

In the recently aired Oprah Winfrey Show ( February 9th "The Boy Oprah Couldn't Forget"), her correspondent Lisa Ling visited Ghana and focused on the hardship of child enslavement in the fishing industry in the Volta region. Even though many children will be affected by the generosity this show produced, and perhaps they will be returned to their village, the issue remains much larger than one money or influence or information can solve. As we drove down the rural roads with the MP (it would be like riding behind one of our own Senators) I had to wonder how in the world can a politician think they can solve problems so great? No roads, no clean water, no health care, no economic base, nothing to base political promises on.

The need will always outweigh the supply. There simply is NOT enough, no matter what is brought, no matter where. There will always be those sitting on the sidelines of the “supply” wondering “why?” The more I see, sometimes I feel I understand more the teachings of Christ on “the poor you will always have with you.” “He saw the crowds and His heart was moved with compassion, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” I grieve and realize I understand less and less. The “why” of so much wealth, access, information, opportunity poured out on some parts (and people) and for others…

no shoe box to celebrate and marvel over
no healthcare
no clean water
no education
no Word written in their language
no one to bring them the Good News
no love
no promise
no life?

There are all types of "sidelines". Those small children, wondering why, watching without hope - left out. The villagers whose lives consist of a survival mentality; if they have enough firewood, water, and one meager meal for the day, sit watching while the children who are getting "educated" receive something while they and theirs do not. The teachers, who work very hard to educate - but many without the basic resource of a blackboard, chalk, or paper to work with.

And then there are our own sidelines. It is often said regarding "mission work" some go, and some send - but my friends there are many who sit on the "sidelines" doing neither. Watching, listening, sometimes hearing the "plight" and the "problems" and then....

back to work on Monday, life and living.

I pray you are doing ALL you can to "get in the game" whether you go - whether you send - don't sit on the sidelines while thousands of men, women and children around the world must wonder "why"?

We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, and while it is generally interpreted as a group cheering us on to the finish line of the race set before us, they are also witnesses against those who sit on the sidelines of faith without works, in a land of plenty.

Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.” The master was furious. “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most.” Matthew 25: 24-28

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