There is no “us”, there is no “them”

There is no you, there is no me. There’s only God that I can see.
There is no us, there is no them. There’s only God. Amen.
— “There’s only God” by Richard Burdick

A simple meditative chant. Yet it sparked in me, if just for a few moments, a sense of true connectedness with all the world. I paused to consider what this – no us and no them – could really mean for me and for the possibility of peace. I wrote:

If there is no us and no them, then I am completely equal to every other human being.

I am the same as the corporate executive,
we are both worthy of love.

I am the same as the Boko Haram member in Nigeria,
we are both worthy to be heard.

I am the same as the Liberian street kid,
we are both worthy of help.

I am the same as the Midwest meth addict,
we are both worthy of healing.

I am the same as the homeless man,
we are both worthy of a job.

I am the same as the evangelical,
we are both worthy to talk to God.

I am the same as the atheist,
we are both worthy of community.

I am the same as the Congolese,
we are both worthy of trust.

I am the same as every other individual,
we are each worthy to be.

SIA local coordinators from all over Africa sing together in Kenya

SIA local coordinators from all over Africa sing together in Kenya

Wisdom from Del: Living Triumphantly

Let us then labour for an inward stillness,
An inward stillness and an inward healing:
That perfect silence where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks in us and we wait
In singleness of heart that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do His will, and do that only!

    — Longfellow

Excepts from Created to Life Triumphantly by Del Anderson:

Living triumphantly. Del speaking at a SIA event in 2007, aged 100. Pictured with Dennis Johnson, SIA Board Member.

Living triumphantly. Del speaking at a SIA event in 2007, aged 100. Pictured with Dennis Johnson, SIA Board Member.

That which we learn to love, we grow to resemble. How do we grow into the image and likeness of God? By learning and practicing that which God has given us, created within us, USE what we have, partake of God’s Nature and participate with the Purpose and Activity of God.

Despite outer conditions, come what may, victory through us is ever and only God’s order of the day. God’s Will is victorious living. As we live in Christ, we glorify God, through expressing and manifesting God. This is awesome, but God’s Truth.

This faith we already have within us, even though it may be dormant. Victory and faith are synonymous, one and the same thing. IT IS THE FAITH OF GOD, NOT HAVE FAITH IN GOD.

Victory is already ours, as we are conscious of our own need and let go and let God bring forth. As we trust God and surrender to God all that is ours, our desire and will, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”

Looking, loving, longing to be like Jesus, we grow into His likeness. That which we fasten our gaze upon, we become. It is my response to “Come, follow Me” with “Yes, Lord, yes” and then respond with action in daily living.

This faith requires self-sacrifice and self-giving, but God’s fruit comes forth.

This is not struggling to achieve victory, but rather, starting small and proceeding to build upon a victory already achieved. God is the Enabler, as we use what we have. God’s faith in and through us affirms the victory that overcometh the world. A Christian’s victory is not over others, but taking mastery over ourselves. The victory comes from God’s Grace, through us.

For the full text, click here. 

New businesses leaders “over the moon” in Nairobi

The five new groups in Nairobi, Kenya that received SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) grants weren’t just pleased, “they were ‘over the moon’” says Wambui Nguyo, SIA SBF local coordinator. “They said it seemed like a dream, especially when I confirmed it wasn’t a loan and they wouldn’t pay back!”

Each group of three people received $150 and they have agreed amongst themselves to meet regularly and to get together with the other three SBF groups in the area to see how they can all grow and also start saving together.

Brenda's clothing shop in Malawi

Visiting Brenda’s second hand clothing shop in Malawi, 2011.

Wambui, who works for peace and reconciliation in her day-job made sure that one of the new groups was Muslim. She explains, “As you know, our relationship between Christians and Muslims is getting strained by the minute and with the frequent explosions in buses and churches people are beginning to point fingers at one another. We therefore wanted to promote and set an example that it is possible to work together, although I did caution them to be sensitive to them especially when praying together.” Not only are the groups diverse in their faiths, they are also a mixture of different ethnic groups, including Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Somali.

Here is a short profile of three of the five new groups, along with their Swahili business names:

AMANI GROUP (PEACE)

Mercy and her two daughters, who are in high school, run this new business. Mercy’s husband left her three years ago and so, in order to provide food for the family, she worked washing sacks at the riverside. With the SBF grant they have opened a roadside cafe, where they cook and sell maize and beans.

JIINUE GROUP (TO LIFT ONESELF)

Peristar is also starting this business with her two daughters, Mary and Rose. Wambui describes Peristar as a “very strong, charismatic woman who is a believer and has a lot of hope for tomorrow.” They will be selling vegetables in the market to support themselves and Mary and Rose’s children.

UPENDO GROUP (LOVE)

This is a group of three friends – Jamarose, Rodah, and Melvon – and they chose the group name to reflect their friendship! All of them were in the business of selling second-hand clothes and the grant made it so they could come together and form a larger business together. One is married with two children, another is single, and the third is divorced and has two children. The grant doesn’t just help the three friends, it also will benefit the four young children! 

I’ll be visiting all these groups in Nairobi in July and I’ll be able to share more photos and stories then!

A Work in Progress

Road in Kenya

Breathe. Relax. Follow the path in front of you.

I woke up in a panic this morning. I had dreamed that I had planned a second trip to Africa – and that I had to leave TOMORROW. In my dream I was rushing around trying to get ready for the last minute trip: I still didn’t have my vaccines. I hadn’t packed. I couldn’t find my camera. Ack!

Breathe. Relax. In reality, I still have another month to figure that all out. And I still have a lifetime to work out everything else. One of my favorite poems reminds me of just this fact: Life is a work in progress.

In the midst of the whirling day,
In the hectic rush to be doing,
In the frantic pace of life, Pause here for a moment.
Catch your breath; Relax your body; Loosen your grip on life.
Consider that our lives are always unfinished business;
Imagine that the picture of our being is never complete;
Allow your life to be a work in progress.
– Richard S. Gilbert, Life Is Always Unfinished Business

Helping and serving others is also a continually evolving activity. Even Mother Theresa realized that when she said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” The goal is maybe to reach a hundred, a thousand, people. And it all starts with just one. As I wrote last week, sometimes that “just one” will go on to feed others, expanding in a sort of pyramid scheme of good will. [Read last week’s post.]

Start with what you have: Racheal shares a piglet with Lyness in Manyamula, Malawi

Start with what you have: Racheal shares a piglet with Lyness in Manyamula, Malawi

Del Anderson encouraged people to begin the process and feed that one person. “Start with what you have ,” he often said (and wrote) to those who came to him for advice and help. That’s helpful advice for our partners who daily see the immense need in their communities. There are people who are hungry, those who lack steady employment, and countries that lack greater systems of electricity and sewage.

Del’s advice was to first recognize that we all have something to give. If we can’t feed a hundred, maybe we have a little bit of food or money that we can share with one other person. We can allow (and welcome) all this as part of a work – and a life – in progress.

This is comfort for grant partners and seekers of justice – and even to someone who still has a million details to plan before flying to Malawi in just 32 days. Thank you God for the many sources of wisdom around me, which remind me to breathe and start with what’s right in front of me!

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