Saturday, August 7, 2010

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick and in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25: 31-40
When we were living in Boulder, Colorado, I (Kerri) constantly dreamed of the day when I could really put Jesus’ teachings into practice. I knew that I was supposed to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and care for the widow and the orphan in their distress. I knew that God’s heart was about justice for the poor and the marginalized – and to follow him, I knew I had to seek justice for them as well. But Boulder is probably one of the most affluent cities in the U.S. and marginalized people are hard to find. Even people who are homeless in Boulder are rarely hungry – in the summertime, they get to eat sushi and tourists’ Cheesecake Factory leftovers on a regular basis.

One of the reasons I was excited to move to Karamoja was the fact that the poor are everywhere here. I thought things would be simpler, more black and white (no pun intended). That, rather than being an abstract notion, following Jesus would be a tangible act when there are real people around you in need. What I didn’t expect was waking up every morning to the sound of kids banging on our gate, yelling at us to let them in. I didn’t expect for them to stand on the other side of our fence all day long and demand that we give them food, water, money, and school books. I didn’t expect the kids to throw rocks at us over the fence and try to climb into our yard to steal our soccer ball. I know that some of the kids go to school and have a home and a family, and some of the kids have beautiful smiles and just want some attention. But there are also those kids who live their lives on the street, wearing rags for clothes and going barefoot. Those kids that steal handfuls of your leftover food off your plate after you walk out of a restaurant. Those kids who are the most difficult to love and the ones who need it most.

Every day I get the chance to feed the hungry. Why? Because everyone here is hungry. Every day I get the chance to give someone a cup of water. Why? Because no one here has clean water to drink. Every day I get the chance to clothe the naked. Why? Because none of these kids have shoes. Every day I get the chance to follow Jesus. Yet the one thing I’ve learned is that however simple it may be, it’s not easy. No matter how much you romanticize the idea of living among the poor (if you’re anything like me), the reality is always more difficult. Street kids will still be at my gate tomorrow morning, trying my patience once again. The good news is that, with each new day, I’ll get another chance to love them and another chance to become a better follower.

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