Did you know there is a man in Bangladesh squatting hour after hour, day after day, in the grueling 115 degree heat chiseling away at them to make pennies a day?
Did you know there is a young Muslim teenage girl who had a dream last night of a man who knew her name, who beckoned her to follow Him, who had nail-scarred hands?
Did you hear of the boy, age six, who saw his parents gunned down before his eyes because they were caught in a crossfire between drug lords in Mexico?
Did you know there is a boy in kindergarten who is struggling to learn how to read? And if the statistics are right, and he doesn’t have help to learn to read by the third grade, he’ll be a number the State of Texas counts to project their future inmate populations in prisons.
Did you know of the village in a rural Kenyan town that is moving their bodies in all sorts of wild contortions in jubilee, singing at the tops of their lungs so that the sound echoes through the valley, filled with excitement over the newly dug well? They finally have fresh, drinking water!
Have you heard of the father, worn out and wrinkled from fretting over how he would provide for his family after dolling out their family’s savings to tend to his ailing son after the local shaman required it of him?
With my index finger gingerly placed on the sphere of land masses and bodies of water, I give the globe a hearty spin so that it whirls around and around, my finger sliding gently up and down so that it covers both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Finally, it comes to a stop. Will that be the next place I go? It lands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Probably not. Around and around the globe spins again, and this time my finger lands on India. Just maybe.
At the formidable, young age of thirteen, my parents wrestled against their own minds and hearts, as well as the naysayers who didn’t understand how they could be in their right mind to let their daughter fly half-way across the world with a group of other kids and a few adults who wanted to introduce them to the nations and teach them how to share the love of Jesus to those they met. Emotions raw from anticipating the six weeks of separation and nerves a bit frayed, in faith my parents sent me on that plane with tons of hugs and kisses, and prayers both cried out and whispered for my safe keeping. And thus, I was introduced to the world beyond my own. A world of other cultures, of people who did things vastly different, yet beautiful in their own way. A world of poverty and death that you wish you could rub away from your eyes after seeing it, but it’s burned on them. Burned on your eyes and your heart. Just as it should be.
Traditions, food, customs, dress, habits, lifestyles of the whole-wide-world were opened before me as I boarded that plane and numerous others to land on nearly every continent and dozens of countries since I was thirteen. It certainly explains the untamable travel bug of mine. And it has shaped every part of who I am, this privilege of seeing the world beyond my own. Not to negate the genuine needs of people in my own city, my own neighborhood. Not in the least. But there is nothing like the understanding and acknowledgment of people beyond our own micro world, compassionately recognizing both the desperation of need that most of the rest of the world faces, and also the appreciation of other people, of other cultures.
A globe. A spherical representation of the earth is what Brennan received from us for his second birthday. An odd gift choice for a two year old. He’s likely to want to use it as a basketball. And if you’re anything like my husband, you have the same quizzical look on your face reading this as he did when I broached the idea with him. The love for the nations pulses through my veins. While Brennan may not have the same travel experiences as I, nor is that my aim, I hope a love for the nations pulses through him as well, a compassion for the poor and needy, for those who need to know Jesus. And it’s never too early to instill that in him.
For a brief moment this week, we set aside the toys. Placing the globe in front of Brennan, he started twirling it; it’s instinct. I placed his tiny finger on the ball of blue and brown and showed him how to hold it there gently while the globe spun around and around, just like I did as a child, just like I still do today. It landed on China. So for a few minutes, we sat together and prayed for a special friend of ours in China who is there for a couple of weeks teaching business and finance to students.
Thus it begins, as is my hope and prayer, that as the spinning and praying become part of our life, that there would be instilled in Brennan a Jesus-longing in his heart for the people represented by the boundary lines and colors of each country of the world on that globe. A God-breathed love for the world beyond our own.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”