19 Mar Rice & Beans Week 3: Awareness
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
What Are Vulnerable Kids Really Facing?
Did you notice that the verses above call us to solidarity? If you want to stand in solidarity, “not looking to your own interests, but to the interests of the others” is a great way to do it. But what if you don’t know what “the interests of the others” are?
Solidarity begins with awareness. While helping to compile updates on children in Lahash’s Sponsorship Program, I repeatedly came across phrases like these:
“…misses a lot of school due to chronic sickness.”
“…has been quiet and fearful since the mother’s death.”
“…parents cannot raise enough food due to drought.”
There were certainly positive reports, too, of kids catching up in school, recovering from illness, or getting more involved at church. But whether they are struggling or doing well, all these kids are in the Sponsorship Program for a reason. Since compiling those 125 updates, I am aware of their extreme vulnerability on a deeper level, and I long for each child to have the daily nutrition, safety, and care that my own children have.
Awareness pushes us to take action and connect with the vulnerable in practical ways. Knowing how hunger and poverty affect families in East Africa inspires us to alter our day-to-day lives on their behalf. It’s one thing to be aware that someone is hungry, it’s another thing to actually eat a limited diet similar to theirs, and even to feel hungry ourselves.
I must admit, awareness is hard. My heart breaks again and again, and I’m reminded of my utter inadequacy. Still, I don’t want less awareness. I don’t want to not know the children’s stories. If anything, I want to know more, and find more ways to love them, even from half a world away.
I’m in good company. These children have their sponsors, the global Lahash community, and you rallying for them. They are cared about and prayed for. They are known. Awareness is becoming action as we stir sacrificial love right into every bowl of rice and beans.
Jen Johnson, Writer & Editor
Lahash International in Portland, Oregon
East Africa Connection
Eliya has been sponsored since 2006. At eatriceandbeans.com/video, find the title “Dan & Eliya” to see an early home visit with him. He is a teenager now, and his health still fluctuates. Because people care about his needs and eat in solidarity with him, he receives additional meals that strengthen him to keep fighting his disease.
Awareness can weigh on us heavily, so we must learn to seek God’s direction for how to respond. God is weaving the lives of his beloved children together in beautiful ways, for the benefit of us all.
Reflect on the daily reading, closing with the prayer below
Monday: Psalm 112:1-10
Tuesday: Isaiah 49:8-13
Wednesday: Matthew 25:34-40
Thursday: John 13:34-35
Friday: I Corinthians 12:20-26
Saturday: James 2:14-17
God, we want to be aware of the struggles and needs of others. Let your love and compassion grow within us, and motivate us to loving action. Help us to hear you speaking to us, guiding us to the next right step in bringing your shalom to this broken world. Amen.