Seeing our face in Somalia

The day-to-day life in Somalia is horrific.  No person should have to endure those living conditions.  No parent should have to watch their child die – especially more than once.

So, when I watch videos like the ones below, my mind and heart are filled with questions, prayers, and anger.  Watch them yourself and try not to feel the same emotions …

From God’s Perspective

I was talking to a lady at church today, and during our conversation she asked the following question about Somalia: “Why would God allow all this suffering to do there?”

Her question, I’m sure, is asked by most of us; and it’s a fair question to ask the Almighty.  Why is Somalia struggling so bad?  For that matter, why is any impoverished country the way they are?

But maybe God isn’t the one to blame for what’s going on.  Sure, He’s the one we go to on behalf of the Somalian people, and He’s the one that supplies all the needs of the people (James 1:16-18, Matthew 7:9-11).  However, maybe God’s looking to us to be the answer to our prayers, the “supply” He sends out to those in need.  Maybe God’s not to blame for Somalia; maybe we are.  The Church, that is.

In Matthew 14 and John 6, we find the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  This is an amazing story when you really think about it.  Here we have thousands of people who are hungry and tired, and God feeds them all from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  But, for me, the hidden gem in this story is how Jesus incorporates the disciples into what He’s doing.

The disciples approach Jesus and say, “Look, it’s late and all these people have to travel home.  They’re hungry and tired, and since we can’t feed them, let’s send them home now.”  It sounds like a reasonable thing to do, right?  I mean, the disciples knew that they couldn’t care for these people, so why keep them around.

Jesus looks at them, looks at the crowd, and looking back at His disciples says, “Why send them away.  Feed them with what you have.”  The disciples look at each other, though, in disbelief, “What do You mean, ‘Feed them’, Jesus?  We don’t have anything to give them.  We’re poor just like them.  We’re hungry just like them.  How can we provide nourishment for this many people?”

Off on the side, Peter sees a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 pieces of fish.  Calling the boy over, Peter looks at Jesus and says, “This is the best we can do.  But it’s not gonna feed all these people.”  Most likely laughing to Himself, Jesus takes what the boy has and instructs the disciples to sit everyone down.  Jesus takes the bread and fish, prays a blessing over them, then instructs His disciples to give the food to the people.

As they did this, their baskets never ran out of bread and fish.  In fact, the scriptures say that when everyone was fed (and satisfied), there were 12 baskets full of leftovers.  12 baskets of leftovers … over 5,000 people fed … from 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

Our response

Could this story possibly show us that when we are willing to give God whatever we have, to be used for His purpose, that He will take it and multiply its use beyond our comprehension?

So maybe we can’t end world hunger by ourselves; but, as a group, working together, we can.  That is of course, if we’re willing to give God all that we have, to be used for His purpose; and if we’re willing to take a leap of faith with Him, no matter how crazy or how great a leap it may be.

God has greatly blessed His Church.  We have all the resources of heaven and earth sitting at our feet.  We have the power of the Spirit living within us.  We have the Maker of all things on our side.  So, really, what stands in our way?  Isn’t God bigger than world hunger?  Aren’t we, the Body of Christ, richer than governments and nations?

Maybe instead of spending $9 million dollars on renovating a building to worship in, we take that money and worship God by feeding and caring for those who live in extreme poverty.  Maybe instead of spending $2 million dollars on an activity center, that will be outdated in 10 years, we adopt a town in Africa (or where ever) and help renovate them by teaching them how to work the ground, how to use their resources to the fullest potential, how to fix farming and road machineries, etc.  Maybe instead of spending $2 thousand dollars on fancy gimmicks and fluff-stuff for our churches, we invest in rebuilding lives in our cities and around the world – lives that are looking for hope.

I’m not saying that we have to sell everything and become missionaries.  If God is calling you to take that step, then by all means listen to Him and go for it.  Nor am I saying that our churches should be cardboard boxes (you know what I mean).  However, if the majority of our church budget is spent on building up-keep and payrolls, then maybe we need to re-think what we’re spending our money on.  We need to quit making excuses on why we can’t help __________________, because in all reality, we can help these places/people.

From what I gather from scripture, God never intended His Church to be stationary.  He called us to be global – in every aspect.  He called us to look beyond ourselves and move, in faith, when and where His Spirit leads.  This thinking applies to places like Somalia, Africa, India, Haiti, and even our own country, cities, and towns.  [Sidenote: missions is missions, whether it’s local or global.  If we are willing to do one, we must be willing to do the other.]

So, when you look at the next video of Somalia, or any other poverty-stricken place, remember what Jesus did with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread given to Him by a boy.  And ask God what you can do, what you can give, to His people in need.


2 responses to “Seeing our face in Somalia

  1. Interesting post and thought provoking. The issue in Somalia and others like it are very complex and beyond me. In the Bible story you used, I don’t recall anyone before uses that as an argument for feeding the poor. Are we satisfied as a church to feed the poor? Is our direction and aim of ministry to take of physical needs?
    I struggle with the tension.


  2. I agree that the tension is hard to handle, at times, but I also think that the tension needs to be dealt with – it needs to be felt. The more we wrestle with it and allow it to penetrate us, the more we understand God’s heart for His Church and the world in which it resides.

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