Who Is Your Neighbor?

About 10 years ago at a Christian rock concert, I was introduced to the humanitarian group World Vision and felt compelled to be a part of their mission.  World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.  Basically, my involvement would be in the sponsorship of a child in need through monthly giving. 

My children were very small at the time, but I envisioned picking a child that they could connect with and learn about giving and social awareness.  The little boy I chose had the same name as our family and “Adam” became a subtle reminder to us, all over the years, that in the smallest of ways we were all a part of the same global community of faith. 

We received pictures from him and letters updating us on his growth and education.  We laughed when he sent us a picture of his new goat and my little ones drew him pictures of our family.  Ultimately, Adam became a goat herder and grew up and out of the program. But Adam had touched our lives in more ways than he would ever know. 

When I suddenly became a single mother, and struggled financially to provide for my children, I was challenged to believe that God would provide for not only us but Adam as well.  Sometimes I would look at my stack of bills and then at his picture and laugh. 

He never knew how many times I almost gave up on him in my own desperation. I learned much about sacrificial giving through a little boy from Ethiopia and my children learned about staying the course and having a double-fisted faith in God’s promise to take care our basic needs. 

Recently, World Vision sent us a picture and bio of a new child to replace Adam.  Ironically, once again we are being challenged by our World Vision child. My son, now 12, and my daughter, now nine, were excited to open up the package and see who God had chosen for us.  My husband was now also part of our little group and as we tore into the envelope and read his name we were shocked to learn that he was called “Jihad.” 

Our first reaction was one of confusion.  World Vision is supposed to be a Christian organization and clearly this was a Muslim child as indicated by his papers.  This raised many questions in our home about what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ, even in the face of our enemies.  This child may never know he has been named after one “striving in the way of Allah,” but his needs for food and clothing are probably all too real.  My husband and I considered asking for a different child, but finally decided to continue supporting him despite our conflicting feelings. 

This boy is our modern day Samaritan to care for. He is still loved by Jesus and used as an example of what defines a neighbor.

While I don’t know if I am supporting a child that may someday fight against my own children or all that I believe in, I do want to be open to what God is doing in my life.  Jihad’s picture is penned up on my desk at work beside my children and husband.  He is slowly growing on me, though I do feel more of a sense of obedience than any natural affection. Once a month as I write out his check, I look at him and laugh and can only wonder what the Lord is doing in my heart through this boy.

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  1. TurtleDove said:

    I hope you grow to love little Jihad. I have some friends who are Muslim (here in my own town.) I’ve shared my faith with them, and I’ve learned a lot about their faith, too. I’ve learned that they’re not at all different from me. They’ve admitted to struggles that are similar to mine, like fears about raising children in a corrupt society. I don’t plan to “lead them to Jesus” in any formal way, unless I’m asked. I do pray for them every day. I’m glad you chose to keep this boy. Jesus does love him, and is using you to share with him what Christians are really like. Clearly God is speaking to you too, in a big way.

    November 13, 2010

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