Monday, July 03, 2006

JESUS AND PLACES OF PAIN 1


This is a picture from Google Images titled "Rwanda genocide."

When you have a moment, type in the Google Images window these places--Rwanda, Congo, and Darfur (in Sudan)--and browse through the pictures. Be prepared. Some of the pictures show graphic violence.

It's the pictures of the children that get to me.

Look at this terrified child. What has he or she seen? Or, what is she or he looking at the moment the camera clicked? What is this child's future? Is he or she still alive?

Why did I write about Jesus and conflict in the previous post? Why do we have to think about Jesus and the bloody violence of his day? Jesus saw this sad situation often as massacres occurred in his day. What did Jesus do? He personally cared for some, but not all. He left the massive crises to us--his "second body."

It has become trendy to ask W.W.J.D.?

I think Jesus is calling out and mobilizing thousands of deeply compassionate and active people who will go "to the places of pain" on this planet and pray there and stay there and love there, with food and shelter and medicine and water and clothes...and, most of all, hope.

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:37

"Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' " Matthew 25:37-40

Can we hear Jesus also say, "I was abandoned in Rwanda/Congo/Darfur/New Orleans/wherever children are left to die and you took me in"?

20 Comments:

At 7/03/2006 8:21 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

I have friends who spent 12 years in Rwanda right up to the time of the genocide by the Hutu. Their entire family had to be dragged from their home by the missionary organization, as they did not want to leave their work among the people just because of war. They have home movies, which I have seen, taken during this time. Think about that: home movies... The stories my friends tell of that time are beyond my comprehension.

On Friday night I attended a concert given by a musician from Sierra Leone. The stories and pictures were disturbing, gripping, compelling.

All I can say is,

"Here am I..."

 
At 7/03/2006 8:49 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Susan,

What can we do (or can be done to us) to wedge us out of our USAmerican apathy about so much pain in the world? We need to listen to friends like yours who have been there, to see the movies and attend the concerts and then find our place in the chaos.

 
At 7/03/2006 10:27 AM, Anonymous Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Well said, John. Well said. I am lacking words right now.

 
At 7/03/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Jamie,
I wonder if we need to collectively come to speechlessness and then into compassionate action.

 
At 7/03/2006 11:45 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

This article says that the average annual income at a place like this is $6 million. I realize an argument in favor of such places is that lots of money is mobilized for missions by these large churches, and that no one would attend and therefore no one would be there to put money in the basket (or fill out the paypal form on the church's website) if there were no flash and modernity to the church's design (ie millions were not spent on its construction, ammenities, and upkeep). If I understand the argument correctly, this means that there are many thousands (enough to fill all the Mega churches in America) of Christians who wouldn't give to missions unless their own needs are first met to a certain level of comfort...and it seems to be a very high level. I might be wrong, but perhaps it is a feed me first and feed me very well mentality that is breeding relative insensitivity to the pain of others in the world?

 
At 7/03/2006 2:29 PM, Blogger AndiJoy said...

thanks for talking about the hard stuff john. i don't think about that enough.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:13 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

John,
We're so insulated but we need to come to see these places and problems as priorities for us, as the Jesus community- and to be a voice, as well as hands and feet- for them.

Thanks for sharing this.

 
At 7/04/2006 8:13 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Susan,

I know it's complex and there shouldn't be guilt-tripping, etc., but in terms of justice, what shall we do? In some USA areas, we spend in a day on ourselves what some earn in a year just to stay alive.

 
At 7/04/2006 8:14 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Andijoy,

I don't know what to do with "the hard stuff." We must become unsettled with the status quo; to become apathetic to the apathy.

 
At 7/04/2006 8:16 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Ted,

I think mission breeds community and not community breeds mission. Unless we grasp in Jesus' name the horrific needs in the world, our "community" will drift into and stay in self-absorbed banalities.

 
At 7/04/2006 9:15 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

John,
Indeed to guilt-trip or to blame is not my aim in bringing up the affluence of many churches. What I mean to ask is whether our consciences are just in need of some shock-treatment.
I'm not sure anything can (or should) be humanly contrived to create the shock: it must be Sovereignly instigated - but why would anyone want to wait for God to do the wake-up call when we can voluntarily choose to be generous, just, and merciful. Yikes! Tempting God is a fool-hearty affair.

 
At 7/04/2006 9:03 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Susan,
I didn't mean you at all or the articles you linked. I like your metaphor of shock treatment for our consciences. And then, the sense of response-ability...to whom much is given, much is required.

 
At 7/08/2006 2:41 PM, Anonymous RebeccaK said...

You know, but it's here at home too. My brother has schizophrenia and would be homeless, except his rent is paid by someone. I have a personal eye into that community. My brother looks homeless. He looks like he got released too early from a mental institution. I am no off-put by those people, since involved with my brother.

My daughter works in a coffee shop. She says homeless come in every day for a free sample of coffee. She says she's the only employee not weirded-out by them, because of her experience with my brother, her uncle. She knows they're human beings. She's not scared by them. I think that's awesome.

 
At 7/08/2006 4:40 PM, Anonymous Hannah Im said...

Thank you so much for posting this. God has placed on my heart a desire do do something--more than just placing a dollar in the offering place--but I don't know what yet. As Susan said, "Here I am. . ."

 
At 7/08/2006 11:42 PM, Blogger Ron Ballew said...

Well done, I spent 9 years in southern Africa and have seen too much.

An insightful read is Kazoh Kitamori's Theology of the Pain of God. He was writing at the end of WWII. His book changed my whole concept of how we are to see and experience others who are suffering.

 
At 7/10/2006 5:14 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Rebeccak,
To see a chart of global suffering does not mean that there is not real suffering in the U.S. of A. Every macro picture has micro pictures of pain.

 
At 7/10/2006 5:16 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

hannah im,
Because God is the God of the oppressed and suffering, God will lead you to be with those who are in need...yet I'd encourage you to serve in community.

 
At 7/10/2006 5:17 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Ron Ballew,
Thanks for making me aware of Kazoh Kitamori's Theology of the Pain of God; and for stopping by and commenting.

 
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