From high on this hill, the town of Kigoma, Tanzania looks idyllic and beautiful. I can see the calm blue lake, shining in the sun, adorable little boats beginning to make their way out into the water for their nightly fishing expedition. The abundant rain has caused everything to grow with glowing greenness, covering the hill below. In fact, most of the buildings below my perch are covered, disguising the fact that many of them don’t have roofs since the owners ran out of money before they finished construction.
From here I can’t see the deeply rutted mud roads or the dirty children wandering around alone. The little shack-like dukas where small piles of fruit and sundries are sold to keep body and soul together are hidden. The garbage, the beggars, the plaintive faces, none of them are visible from here.
What is still with me even on top of this hill is my sense of helplessness in the face of the knowledge of these massive needs of every kind. The few little chips I have made in this mountain of desperation seem pointless.
The thought of leaving is compelling, just to be away from this oppressive weight. The knowledge that there are thousands of places in the world like this, and millions of souls with longing begins to crush my soul too.
But I would rather find a way to live with this tension, seeing the realities, doing what I can, appreciating beauty when it is given, and putting all at the feet of Jesus so I am not paralyzed. What kind of a world would it be if we did nothing because we cannot do everything?
Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows in their distress … James 1:27 JB Phillips translation