Painting by Chautauqua County Artist: Nathan Long
Last week I missed my Monday post of Sleeping with bread due to helping out over the weekend with the, World Vision AIDS exhibit. I had the opportunity (as well as hundreds of other volunteers), to help educate our local community on the effects and pandemic of AIDS on the continent of Africa as well as become partners in assisting those people most effected by AIDS and HIV in the world today. I learned that 2/3 of the people in world effected by aids live in a very small geographic area within the continent of Africa. There are many reasons for this, but it was most distressing to learn that if access to clean water, nutrition from food and basic medical care were available, many people would not be so susceptible to AIDS.
The first time I went through the exhibit, I honestly was overwhelmed by the enormous number of people living with AIDS without the benefits we have in this country.
Rarely if ever do I worry if I have access to electricity, water, sewage, medical care and food. I began to realize the luxury I have of walking through a grocery store any day of the week and being able to purchase most of what I'd like to have to eat. Sadly, when I look into my pantry and think, "Man all I have is dry goods - I've got to get groceries.", people living in extreme poverty would take one look at my pantry and think, "There's enough rice here for our whole village!"
I do not want to dismiss the needs of the hungry, homeless and needy in our own country - there are many. But I do not want to turn away from the needs of Africa that I've better become aware of as well. Someone said to me over the weekend,
"God can use missions and the needs of another country to break people to begin to see what is really going on around them. Africa can be the start of opening of our eyes to see the needs in the world around us. Once you're heart is broken for the needy, you begin to see ways to help everywhere - including those who live in your own neighborhood."
This exhibit drew literally thousands of people over 5 days to take a chance to look around their global neighborhood and see if there is some way to help. I'd encourage you to visit World Vision and see if you have any rice you'd be able to share with the global village. Either with your time, abilities or money there are ways all around us to love our neighbors as ourselves.