The following is the second part of a two-part interview originally posted on First Fruit Inc.’s blog. Click here to read part 1.
Camille and Esther Ntoto, founders of Un Jour Nouveau, continue their riveting challenge to the Church as they describe what it is like for girls and women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is the second of a 2-part interview.
First Fruit: Why is the Church sometimes complicit in the problem of gender inequality?
Tucked away in the bowels of Leviticus is a simple law that I feel sheds deep insight in our poverty alleviation strategies today. It is called the law of gleaning.
A few months ago I was visiting a farm of a friend of mine and I was watching as an employee emptied some hay into a feeding trough of some kind. He was using some sort of a Bobcat/ front in loader to do it. As he picked up the hay, some would fall off the bobcat claw and land on the ground around the trough. When he finished loading the trough he came by with a rake and picked up the loose hay and dumped it into the trough. The whole process reminded me of gleaning. The “loose hay” was kind of like the extras that the farmers of Leviticus were told to leave for the poor to glean.
We are excited to share the amazing work of local NGO Un Jour Nouveau (Africa New Day) in Democratic Republic of Congo. The following article originally appeared on First Fruit, Inc.’s blog. It is reposted with permission.
In helping to launch the United Nations campaign called HeForShe, actress Emma Watson states:
“Sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive [the same rights as men]. No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.”
Christians are the followers of the One who saw dignity and God’s image in the Samaritan woman, and treated her with a regard that defied culture and convention.
Sitting in my office, I was listening to someone tell me how I need to be distant from others to prove that I had ‘arrived’. Of how I needed to be in control all the time and not show a single sign of weakness. It got me thinking that living in a world that edifies power and talks of ‘survival of the fittest,” leaves little room for people who may be vulnerable or marginalized. In fact, it leaves little room for all of us– as we all are imperfect–and it gives rise to the masks that we wear. But there are many who cannot wear masks or choose not to wear them. It is these people who show us what community is like.
One of the realities of middle-class life in India is relating to people who beg. But there are two kinds of people who beg, just as there are two kinds of people in other parts of society: those with a sense of dignity, and those who have lost theirs.
Every few days my wife and I meet a Eunuch at a traffic light, a member of the transgender community in India which takes to begging because of being ostracized from regular jobs. This Eunuch begs, but with dignity. Most people who come to the window of our car asking for alms do so aggressively. There is a hardness in their eyes whether children or adults, an aggression—oppressiveness even—with which they relate to the world around them, not letting go of you till the traffic light forces them to. Urban poverty and its depravities strip many human beings of their humanity, and reciprocally, they treat the world around them in kind.
Five hours a week. That is how much time the typical family has left to serve others.
This statistic came from a pastor friend who did a basic survey in his personal church. (And his name is NOT George Barna) He found that after:
- Work is finished
- Kids are shipped off to soccer practice and basketball games
- Groceries are bought
- Family entertainment is exhausted
- Church commitments are finalized
… the families of his church have around 5 hours left…… to relax, decompress and serve others.
Last year I wrote a blog challenging us to move from ‘helping the poor’ to ‘loving our neighbor.’ The intention wasn’t that we should stop serving those who are the vulnerable around us. The story of the Good Samaritan makes it clear—loving our neighbour definitely includes:
- being interrupted
- to help someone with needs
- who you may have no connection to at all.
As I shared, we need to change the way we think about being involved in others lives. Too often we leave the poor feeling like they are a project to cross off our to-do lists rather than people we genuinely care about.