Katie Davis is settling into her first year in Uganda, and she’s feeling the contrast between what she left behind in the United States and what she’s experiencing every day in her village and school.
We’re in chapter three of Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis and Beth Clark. Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter are leading our online discussion of the book. This chapter raises issues for me that are similar to the ones from chapter one. And so I will ask a question and attempt to answer it.
Is it possible to communicate the desperate need of people in a developing country (and for some countries, “developing” might be an exaggeration) without making comparisons to suggest a wealthier country is inherently bad, or flawed, or oblivious? It’s not that the book says that directly, but comparisons inherently imply or suggest we should feel guilty.
I should say that if we as American Christians center our lives on driving our SUVs to Starbucks and shopping at the mall, then we should feel guilty if we ignore the plight of the poor and sick. (For the record, I don’t drive an SUV, but I have been known to visit Starbucks; I try to avoid shopping malls.)
But that is not the American Christians I know. The ones I know are sponsoring children through World Vision, Compassion International and Samaritan’s Purse. They are supporting missionaries like Katie in Uganda and missionaries in the inner city in the United States. They send their children on mission trips. They themselves often go on mission trips, paying the full cost themselves. They teach Sunday School. They show up for church work days. They try to make a difference in their workplaces. They volunteer in prisons.
Here’s one passage from chapter three that I encountered and almost gritted my teeth over:
“As I thought about the discrepancies between the culture I came from and the one I now lived in, I could not stop thinking about my life and the lives of many of my friends in the States – and being appalled by our luxuries when people on our same planet were living in such poverty and need. I began to realize huge flaws and gaps in my faith, a wide chasm between what I proclaimed to believe and how I was actually living.”
Admirably, she turns these thoughts on herself. She feels compelled to do something, and she does. But her words also suggest something about what she believes about where she comes from.
Here’s how I would have written that paragraph:
“As I thought about the material blessings of the life I came from, and the gaping need of what I now saw every day, I couldn’t stop thinking about what God was saying to me, how he was stretching and growing my faith, and what he would have me do.”
To see more posts on chapter three of Kisses form Katie, please visit Sarah Salter at Living Between the Lines.