In great cities,” noted Nathaniel Hawthorne, “it is unfortunately the case, that the poor are compelled to be the neighbors and fellow-lodgers of the vicious.” Hawthorne was writing about the slums of early 19th-century London, but his observation is timeless. Those among us who lack money tend to congregate in neighborhoods marred by crime and human exploitation.
Bob Goff traveled to a country where he witnessed extreme human rights violations. In response, he chose to live out the call of Isaiah 58:3 by seeking justice on behalf of the oppressed. Goff founded Restore International to “fight for freedom and human rights, working to improve educational opportunities and to be helpful to those in need of a voice and a friend.” For more than a decade, Restore has helped to free those in bonded labor and sex trafficking, along with other exploited men, women, and children in select troubled countries.
God has given me new things to treasure and value since I left the US for Uganda 6 years ago. Some of the interests and things that I truly enjoyed before moving to my new ministry have, to my surprise, been replaced. I haven’t even missed American football—my favorite sport! Nor have I missed many things that my birth country’s culture suggests are necessary for fulfillment, significance, and happiness.
In Mumbai, India, a boy named Lakhan lives with his elderly grandmother, Sakubai. Lakhan has cerebral palsy and is deaf. With no home or family to help care for him and Sakubai, they slept on the pavement behind a small bus stop. A published photo shows 9-year-old Lakhan tied to a pole—the only way his grandmother could ensure his safety when she went out to search for work. Sakubai explained her drastic action: “[Lakhan] is deaf, so he would not be able to hear the traffic coming. If he ran onto the road, he’d get killed.” Thankfully, a group that works with special-needs children heard the story, secured a room where both grandson and grandmother could live, and helped the grandmother obtain a job.
After I moved to Africa, a couple living in the US contacted me and said, “We’d like to make a financial contribution to help you with your ministry in Uganda.” Because my job at the time didn’t require that I raise funds, I thanked them but declined their generous offer.
In 2011, marine biologists around the globe were fixated on a pod of sperm whales in the North Atlantic Ocean; they had adopted a bottlenose dolphin calf. Jens Krause, a German behavioral ecologist, told one news source that sperm whales have “never been known to mingle this closely with another species.” Apparently the young dolphin had a spinal defect and couldn’t swim fast enough to keep up with other dolphins. But surprisingly, the sperm whales gathered the struggling dolphin into their fold.
In a speech given during the commencement of a newly formed missions agency, my friend—who heads up the ministry—spoke of its mission and vision. He also gave everyone a clear picture of its goals and plans.
When my twin sister and I were 5 years old, we began counting the money we had in our piggybanks. It turned out that one of us had more than the other. To our young minds, this just wasn’t right. So, we decided to balance our accounts by helping ourselves to our mother’s money!
God judges sin because he loathes what it does to us and to others. There is no other motive in God, nothing deeper than His love for us. He wants us to loathe sin, too—and be its executioner. If we won’t, he will!” —David Roper (Elijah: A Man Like Us)
There was a season when my son Wasswa and I had 12 little guests at our dinner table in Uganda every night for 3 consecutive years. Previous to our sharing dinner with them, the children had often gone entire days without food. They began coming to our house when they heard that I would feed them. Many of the boys and girls—some as young as 3 years old—walked nearly 5 miles to reach our home, so I gave them a ride home each evening.
Several years ago, a friend and I were dining in a restaurant’s outdoor seating area. As we neared the end of our dinner, we noticed a man watching us from the sidewalk. His clothes were dirty, his face haggard. He walked up to us and with a cracked voice said, “When you finish your meal, if you have any leftovers, would you mind if I ate them?” We invited him to sit down, and we asked the waitress to bring him a grilled chicken and butter pasta entrée. For the next half hour, he told us bits of his story.
Last week I took my adopted son and his buddy (whom my friends adopted from Ethiopia) to the beach where I grew up in Florida. Watching the boys as they splashed in the gulf, played in the sand, and curiously poked at a dead jellyfish that had washed up on the shore, I marveled at God’s work in their lives.
Pastor Kofi has helped to plant 25 churches in Ghana and Burkina Faso, as well as a home for orphans and a school with 1,000 students. But he doesn’t have much money to manage all this.