Saturday, August 9, 2014

What lasts?

by Doug Bradbury

The African Refugee Committee (ARC) operates insides the Kiziba Refugee camp we visited last week. They have an office in the camp and numerous projects to their name. They built the basketball courts and the soccer pitch. The also built this playground. 

The video shows the highly anticipated opening of the playground with hundreds of kids swarming it. They all look excited to have a dedicated place to play. The commentary in this video talks about how important learning to play is.

We walked by this playground last week. I only recognized it by the faded and peeling ARC sign that still stands. All that is left are a few tractor tires buried at odd angles in the ground. The monkey bars seem to have long ago been scrapped for firewood. The makeshift slide torn down and repurposed to patch a roof or hold the month’s rations.
The Playground, today

It makes me wonder about the lasting effects of the work we have done in these two weeks. That concrete pad we mixed and poured for J Lynn’s will crack in a few years. The lack of freezing temperatures should let it last longer that it would in Illinois, but the relentless rainy season will eventual undermine it’s integrity. The books we carried to the library will one day be ruined by water or maybe used to a cooking fire. The windows we purchased for the church in Fumbwe will eventually rust out, but probably not before the mud-block structure itself needs to be rebuilt. The water we hauled up the hill has already been used and the families at Love to Help will need health insurance again next year.

Jesus told us about these things. He said, "Do not store up for yourself treasures on Earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourself treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal" (Matthew 6:21)

What are our heaven-stored treasures from this trip? What lasts? We participated in a little bit of physical building, but what we really got to take part in is the building of the Kingdom or God. The concrete, bricks, windows and water of the Kingdom are the relationships we formed. Jen and Serge are our treasure and life-long friends and partners in ministry. The bagel-baking, cake-making women of J Lynn’s are our treasure. Their stories and their lives staying with us forever. Groyda, Natalie, Amie, and our other JCM hosts at Kiziba are our treasures. We will see them again, perhaps as resettled refugees is North America or perhaps again in the camp. Pastor DaSantos in Fumbwe and his wife served us not just a meal made with rice, bananas, peanuts and water but also a filling glass of living water like Jesus talks about in John 4. 

When we enter another person’s life we are, in fact, joining with Christ himself. Together we are the world-wide body of Christ. To meet and welcome another brother or sister is to meet and welcome Jesus. It’s that love to and through us that becomes the "spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This is what I think Jesus meant when He said we would never thirst again. That lasts forever.

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