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November 04, 2012

silent sermon of Hope

Pastor Brown stood to the side of the screen and asked Rae to pause the choppy video playing before the congregation. He wanted to explain what it was like to navigate the crowded streets of Waterloo, Sierra Leone. The video froze, somewhat randomly. Pastor glanced at the screen, hesitated.

There she was.

Child of God, silent on pause, eyes piercing the entire congregation, hopelessly caught in her place and culture. If the pastor wanted to raise awareness of the need in Sierra Leone, I can think of no better way to make us to feel it. For those who allowed this image to pierce their very soul, moving on with the service seemed kind of pointless.

But we couldn't just sit in church all day contemplating this little girl staring into the camera. [Right?] Pastor pressed on by explaining that with few mirrors and no technology, many requested to have their picture taken. She probably never saw her malnourished self before. She made her way through a sea of small vehicles and people, trash and stench, to the white anomaly, a total stranger with camera in a small car.

Why does she seem to be smiling? Why the look of hope and not despair? Maybe she has nothing but God. I wonder what her name is?

But I know the land of plenty. We don't smile enough. We struggle to grasp our need, hurry past blessings, betray silence, create idols of metal and wood and reputation. We are hopelessly caught in our place and culture.

Yet here we are in central PA, the ones with more stuff, knowledge, and opportunity. We are aware that for whatever reason, God has placed the ball in our court.

We will raise funds for at least one church in Sierra Leone. We will help front lines missionaries educate leaders and implement a sustainable system. We will fill and deliver a literal truck load of material goods, all the way from Harrisburg directly to the front doors of the church in order to serve and distribute in the name of the Lord.

Where it goes, for the people of Waterloo and of Harrisburg, I can only hope.

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