From Geoffrey to you: Not in Vain

Friday May 22, 2009

Not in vain

Does the AIDS epidemic ever seem like a black hole to you? It kind of seems like one of those issues that will never change. We feel empathy and pity for the children we know are suffering but so many fail to feel enough compassion for them to actually do something in response because any contribution seems futile. So many people see it as a lost cause and would rather put their money and resources towards a cause where there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t hopeless like the AIDS epidemic.

“We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into it.”
– Mother Theresa

The truth is that I am only going to be able to touch the lives of a few people and the same is true for you. Sure maybe you are going to take a trip to a third world country at some point and even if you stay for six months like myself, but the truth is that you are only going to be able to reach a few people, perhaps a dozen or a few hundred, but in comparison to the millions suffering that dozen or few hundred people are insignificant. An aphorism I have tried to intertwine into my daily life is “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do I ought to do. And what I ought to do by the grace of God I will do.” I know and understand that I wont be able to help each and every starving child in the world and organizations like Tumaini, World Vision, Feed the Children and World Hope all realize that as well, but is that any reason to not try? Though there are millions and millions in need, we need to remember that each one of those numbers represents a person and if I have the ability and resources to help even just one you can believe that I am going to do it. You never know the potential of the people you help and you never know in what ways your actions or words can act as a catalyst to empower them to impact their community, country, or world. I bet those who spoke into my life six years ago never imagined that their encouragement would empower me to start a homeless ministry and work as a missionary in Kenya, but they realized that even though I was just another statistic that I was a person and that I had potential. That is why you all volunteer, contribute and work towards those issues most dear to your heart, because you believe that somehow the pennies you contribute and the hours you put in will in one way or another touch someone’s life. I know that we are united in this heart.

Adoniram Judson was the first Western Mission in Myanmar (Burma) about two hundred years ago. He went to Myanmar to translate the bible and hoped that somehow he would be able to touch the lives of the citizens of Burma and share the gospel with them. There were no Christians at this point and time; Buddhism and Animism were the only known religions. He translated the bible into their language and tried to introduce as many as he could to the Christian faith. It took two years before he even had an opportunity to witness to someone, then it took six years before he saw his first convert. He had buried two of his sons. During the civil war he was taken prisoner and hung by his feet ever night. Later on two more of his children died. His wife got sick and died. He was clinically depressed after the death of his loved ones. He eventually remarried and then tragically buried two more children followed by the burial of his second wife. When he reached the mid-fifties he developed tuberculosis and died. At the time of his death there were less than a dozen converts.

I would consider this situation a black hole wouldn’t you? It seemed more like a failed attempt than a success. Was it really worth it? If he could do it all over again do you think he would do it again? If you were in his shoes would you have left or stayed? I wonder what all of his friends and family back at home were saying and how insane they reckoned he was to continue his work with so few results.

I think that he continued to press on and work towards what he believed in because he realized that whether he was able to help a dozen or a million that it was worth it. Those dozen that he helped were just as important as any other amount of people. He realized that those dozen weren’t just statistics, but that they were breathing and living people. He had no idea what the potential of each of those people possessed, but figured they deserved a fair chance like us all. I don’t feel that those hours he spent slaving away towards translating bibles and preaching were in vain. Today over six million Christians reside in Myanmar and each one of them can trace their faith back to Judson.

My reason for telling you this story is to give you encouragement. I know most of you do philanthropic work and have dreams of helping others. Whether your front is the AIDS epidemic, homelessness, underprivileged children, at risk youth, orphans in Mexico or whatever field your interests may lay know that they aren’t black holes and that in every dark tunnel there is a light at the end of it. The hours you have spent slaving away towards your goals, dreams and areas of need, they aren’t in vain. Whether you reach a dozen people or six million, you have touched lives, made a difference, and you never know the potential of those people.

Though many believe that we have poured millions and billions of dollars into the black hole of AIDS and have seen little to no effect I would have to beg to disagree.

Like the story of the Good Samaritan, many people have seen this epidemic and walked past, but a plethora of people have taken a stand and decided to contribute. Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs) are the drugs that extend the lives of those with AIDS. In 2002 a year’s supply could cost as much as ten thousands dollars. In 2003 a coalition of activists persuaded four manufacturers to make them available to developing countries for under a hundred and fifty dollars each year. In 2002 only one perfect of those who needed ARVs had them, today over twenty-eight-percent of those in need are getting them. The infection rate in Uganda has reduced from thirty percent to ten percent. Two-thirds has cut the AIDS prevalence among pregnant mothers visiting Uganda’s prenatal clinics. In Rwanda the percentage of its population infected with AIDS have been reduced from twenty one percent to three percent, unfortunately that was partially due to the genocide. There have been immense reductions in the spreading of AIDS and the provisions for those living with the disease. Programs through our government have been developed and put into place. Companies have taken a stand and made a coalition for the RED campaign. Celebrities and Americans have joined forces in the One Campaign. Churches have rallies and take special offerings. People put on benefit concerts, shows, and campaigns. The hearts of so many have been touched by this cause and have decided to take a stand to work towards the end of AIDS. The dollars you have contributed and hours you have spent volunteering weren’t for nothing they are making a difference and lives have been changed and saved through your efforts. Even though we have seen a light at the end of the tunnel that doesn’t mean that our fight is over.

To this day many people are still suffering and onlookers continue to walk past without hesitation. Malaria still kills over 3,000 children each day and remains to be the number one killer of children under the age of five in Africa. Two million children die each year because of lack of access to vaccines. Ninety-percent of the Lords Resistance Army is made of young children that have been abducted from their homes. In Zambia the life expectancy is thirty-eight. Malnutrition causes more than fifty five percent of child deaths in our world and yet the earth can produce enough food for every person to take in two thousand seven hundred and twenty calories per day. Thirty percent of the world lacks clean water. Twenty percent of the world lives off of one percent of the world’s total income. Twenty-percent of Rwandan children die before the age of five and over seventy percent of the country is illiterate. AIDS has orphaned Fifteen million children. Twenty eight million people have died from AIDS and forty-two million people are living with AIDS right now.

May God bless you for the hearts of compassion you have for those suffering throughout the world. I encourage you to keep on keeping on in whatever front you have decided to fight. If you have yet to find something worth fighting for or a cause near and dear to your heart, join Tumaini and change a life.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Carro’s Recovery
Janet, the blind girl, that the medication will work and help her to see again
The Medical Clinic
Funds for the different projects for Tumaini

Carro had a tube implanted into her head that goes down to her stomach. It drains any fluids into her stomach. I think they call it a shunt or something like that. Well my dad helped work on that device with the doctor that invented it many years ago. His name is listed in the books for helping to make it.
It looks like I am going to be able to make a trip to Mombassa before it leave. From what I hear, it is a tropical paradise. I have a few friends I am hopefully going to go there with and there are a few different relatives they have that live there… so it will be an almost free trip… woot woot
I bought a jar of mayonnaise… it doesn’t say to refrigerate after opening, but I seem to recall that you are supposed to. So I am waiting for a special occasion to crack open that bad boy and to make as many things as I can with it because I don’t have a fridge to put it in.
Each time I flush the toilet I notice there is a bunch of oil in there… I dunno if I have been eating too much oil or it there is something in the water
Last night I put on my mosquito net and apparently I trapped a mosquito in there with me.. not a smart thing to do
Apparently mosquitoes with malaria only bite about thirty minutes before dusk… random
Everyone is amazed by my ipod, my friends tell me that I have the funniest devices that they have ever seen
The way they pronounce words and spell words seem completely different

Omena (not sure if that is how you spell it)
It is this nasty type of food made from little fish that look like sardines

They should call it omana (oh man uh) because whenever I hear that people are eating that I normally say OH MAN!

This entry was posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 11:01 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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