When you witness the vast amount of needs, and the limited amount of material and human resources to meet them, you can see that creativity, courage, and hope are great gifts from God.
On my recent trip to El Salvador, I visited a variety of rural communities. Some were settled after the civil war, and others more recently as a part of an internal displacement program.
All of these families were subject incredible challenges, ranging from the lack of access to clean water, to issues of irrigation, sewage, and insufficient children’s education.
If you’ve never been in an environment like this before, it’s very overwhelming. You find yourself stunned by the dominating forces of a slow death. Suffering’s lingering presence sits at a table of empty plates alongside vulnerable woman and children, and taken back you just sit there…
You can feel the weight of their problems sit on your shoulders to the degree you feel physically tired, or even sick. You convince yourself it’s the change in climate, or the toll of the journey, or the difference in diet, but in reality, it’s the natural response, to an unnatural environment. Human beings were not created to live subject to such chaotic environments. It’s most painful when you look to the dark corner of the room and find a baby, unclothed, sitting on a questionable surface, hauntingly quiet, sadly irresponsive to anything.
Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…”
When all you’ve ever known is being dominated, it seems impossible that outside of a fairytale rescue effort, you could ever experience relief from the inevitable subjugation to leviathan. Hope becomes the tooth-fairy of impoverished reality. She’s only there if you can afford her.
However, Gen. 1:28 states that God’s intention for human beings was that they would dominate the world they lived in, to the degree they could raise multiple children without fear of those vulnerable ones being subject to the monster of chaos.
So many 3rd world development approaches culminate in an outside force providing the power to dominate. Although it can help the few who receive the benefit, it only affirms the presence of the tooth fairy, and prolongs the myth of rescue. Someone else does the dominating, and those suffering fail to experience the empowerment that would lead to the dignity they were created to experience.
I’m thankful to serve in an organization that believes God wants human beings who are subject to the forces of suffering, death and despair, to come into the ability to have dominion over that very environment that chaotically tries to challenge them; to grow into the image of God they were created in and have dominion.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
The work we do is directly related to the development described above; moving a person from being dominated to having dominion. Jesus offers a solution in his people, who would obey his commands, and implement his way. He charges them with the responsibility to be an illuminating model. Like a city on a hill, we are to be a society embodies what is possible when people do justice, and practice righteousness.
We are obeying Jesus’s command by demonstrating the possibility that can exist when people have the courage to hope, amidst incredibly challenging circumstances, and creatively implement solutions that empower people to have dominion.