Sebastian Junger wrote a book entitled Tribe. It is a great work about homecoming and belonging particularly effective in explaining why our nation’s veterans tend to suffer so much as they return to a land that itself is messed up. One of Junger’s observations was that when our nation was first colonized the American Indians virtually never left their tribes to become part of the colonists. Conversely, history records that numbers of settlers freely left their towns and cities to join surrounding tribes. Evidently, the tribal egalitarian way of life, the common sharing of possessions, and loyalty to each other attracted people disenchanted with overly-strict rules and the independent-spirit so prevalent among European settlers. Junger admits that tribes were not perfect and were often marked by cruelty and depravity in the manner in which they attacked other tribes. Yet, there was
I want to share with you a moment burned into my mind as a poignant testimony to generosity. My daughter, Sarah and I, experienced this moment in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in 2002. In the course of ministering to a small church in this town located at the top of the Andean mountains, we met street children who were collecting trash or anything of value they could find on the streets, in order to garner a handful of coins.
Although home to one of the deepest silver mines in the world, Cerro de Pasco’s 70,000 inhabitants are mostly poor. One would think that any money a child could scrape would be zealously guarded and used for food or clothing. But these joyful children tithed from what they had in order to give to missionaries. It was a demonstration of the poorest giving to the poor to honor and expand God’s work. Someday I hope to learn how God blessed them!
While driving to an appointment I stopped at a traffic light and happened to look to my left. A prominent sign welcomed people to Northwest Portland on what at one time was a nicely landscaped plot. But whoever had planted and carefully constructed an image meant to greet people had allowed the site to fall into disrepair. Trash littered the ground and it looked like it had been sometime before anyone had tended to the plants.
I’m glad that a community purchased nice vegetation and an attractive sign welcoming people to their city. But if they don’t “tend to the garden” an eyesore and poor impression of their town is the end result for anyone paying attention.
3 John 5-8—Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
Fran* came in the ministry center for food. She is a tall woman with a firm handshake and eyes that tell me she is weathering brutal storms. She sat across from me and shared her story. Her husband is 6’ 3” and once weighed 240 lbs. Now he weighs 140 lbs and is barely clinging to life. For years he sprayed Crossbow, a chemical treatment that kills weeds, on poison oak and blackberries. Often when the summer heat bore down he took off his protective gloves. Eventually, the amount of chemicals that penetrated his skin produced a condition I cannot even pronounce that is now killing him.