Just a couple of days ago I had the honor of sitting down with some brothers from South Sudan while they shared about their nation. One of the stories that still haunts me is of how soldiers are renting out their weapons from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. so that people can go looting. The soldiers haven’t been paid for five to six months and are literally starving, so the offer of a month’s salary just for renting out their weapon is hard to resist. Even if money makes it into the system it is taken by corrupt generals and officers, thus making the soldiers even angrier and more likely to make poor decisions. It’s a tragic scenario that leaves me asking myself what hope there is for the world. I think many of us are feeling that way right now.
Last week we held the TCT East Africa Forum. We had 32 participants from seven countries. I shared about how against all odds, God turned up through the TCT program and communities moved out of poverty. On paper there was no hope. The work was illegal (the government didn’t allow church training). I wasn’t exactly what the church was looking for—young, white and female. Everyone said it was foolish and wouldn’t work. In fact even I didn’t believe it would. But it did. Because of God.
Today we heard stories of what God is doing in Africa. One was about a church near a slum community. The community was famous for prostitution and drug addiction. It was said this community would start its day at 6 p.m. and come morning everyone would sleep. The roads were filthy and children would play in the trash. Rubbish trucks were not able to make their way down the road. The church prayed and decided to help clean the trash in the area. As they were working on the project some government leaders went past and stopped. They were curious to know what the church was doing—commenting that it was their job. They called more people and they came to help. Later the city council met and decided that they needed to do more for the community, so they sent in machinery to clean the drainage ditches. As they did they realised that the road was almost impassible for vehicles. So they arranged for a grader to come to smooth the road. Now the road has been completely upgraded. The people have started to take pride in their area and the prostitution trade is moving out, being replaced by businesses. New shop fronts and buildings are going up. All because a church decided to clean a road—that’s the crazy multiplying impact of God.
I know as I write this some of you are left feeling like the world is messy. Some of us are angry at injustice we see. And we should be. But in the midst of that we need to remember God is bigger. We need to be on our knees asking God to turn up and asking God what we can do next. Because there is hope—it’s God.