by Mike Benson
As best you can, try to develop these brief snapshots in your mind’s eye.
Think of a woman. She’s thin and gaunt in appearance. She’s sitting on the sidewalk in the heat of the day. She’s nursing her infant daughter. Her free hand is extended and she’s holding what looks to be a dirty, plastic coffee cup. But there’s no aromatic beverage in the vessel–only a few dull copper shillings.
As you look closer, you notice that her left leg is a prosthetic. Her life and that of her small child is totally dependent upon the generosity of sympathetic tourists who happen to pass by. If they drop coins in her cup, mother and child will eat; if they don’t, the two will go hungry.
Think of a woman. There’s a 6-month old infant strapped to her back. On her head there’s a large basket which holds her families’ groceries for the day. Her arms are laden with odd metal and plastic cookware.
She’s never made a quick trip to Wal-Mart. Even if such a store existed in Arusha–and it doesn’t–she and her family could never afford to shop there. She feels blessed if she can somehow manage to feed her hungry family once a day.
Think of a man. He is the local equivalent of the UPS-delivery man, except the vehicle he drives through Arusha has no engine, no seats or safety belts, no speedometer, no windshield, and no breaks.
His business transportation is a heavy and primitive wooden cart which he maneuvers with the shear strength and stamina of his body. He hauls local goods and commodities for miles along the dusty, broken roads of the city. If he works hard six or seven days a week for a month, he’ll be lucky to clear the equivalent of $50.
Think of a woman. She has no husband, but she’s the mother of three children. Her mate died a few years ago from AIDS-related illness. She spends her days weaving baskets.
Like many of her African peers, her livelihood is solely dependent upon the tourist industry. If you buy her homemade wares, she’ll find a way to feed and clothe her brood. She has no kitchen, no electricity, and barely a mud hut for shelter.
Think of a woman. She gets up every morning at 3:00 AM. Her first chore is to walk five miles to the nearest watering station. She’ll wait patiently for hours while other local women fill their five gallon buckets.
Finally, she’ll take her turn and then begin the weary walk back home again. The day’s water will be used for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. If the government doesn’t send water to her area, she and her family will simply do without that day.
Have you developed these photos? Brethren, there are tens of millions in Tanzania just like the folks I just described. All of them have a burden. All of them are hungry. All of them lack the basic necessities of life.
I saw these people. I met some of these people. And I found myself thinking initially, “We Americans need to be benevolent–we need to send money! These folks are desperate!”
The truth is–the majority of Tanzanians live in poverty on a scale that those of us stateside can’t even imagine in our worst nightmares. You and I ate more at Christmas dinner than most Tanzanians eat in a week.
But their deepest need is not financial. You and I could send money and food by the shipload. We could alleviate every physical burden and fill every empty stomach, but if we do not share the Bread of Life (John 6:33, 35, 48, 51) with the Tanzanians, we have failed.
Beloved, we cannot stand at the Judgment, look Almighty God in the eye, and tell him that we helped the Tanzanians with their physical needs, but we neglected their spiritual needs.
Jehovah did not send an economist, a grocery man, or a doctor–He sent a Savior (Luke 19:10). Will you help us take Him to the lost in Africa?
by Mike Benson