Monday, April 30, 2007

Big Boots

I have been walking around with a spiritual “Kick Me” sign pinned to my back for months now. God put it there when I read a book by Shane Claiborne called Irresistible Revolution. In addition to everything else he writes that blew my mind, he quotes Soren Kierkegaard, who writes:
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How will I ever get on in the world?

My name is Rebecca and I am a scheming swindler.

Luckily, God stood next to me when I stood up and admitted that I had a problem. However, while He was there with His arm around me, loving me and supporting me, He stuck a “Kick Me” sign on my back. Apparently, He thinks that unless I feel spiritually afflicted for a while, I will continue to be a scheming swindler because I’m so comfortable this way. And too much comfort is not good for the soul. It gets flabby and has to stop and catch its breath a lot. So, to encourage me to start exercising for a healthier soul, I have been the target of a variety of folks who have written books and preached sermons and lived lives that kick me. And the motivation is starting to work. By their examples, I am coming to believe that I must stop hiding behind privilege and actually spend time forming relationships with the types of people that Jesus formed relationships with: the poor.

The only problem is that I’m not quite ready yet. My very human sense of self-preservation is keeping me from being able to trust that God will take care of me if I stop trying to control my life and start loving people full-time. So, according to His infinite wisdom, the “Kick Me” sign is still there. And now I’m both nervous and excited that something huge is headed toward me wearing big boots.

I am going to Africa.

I am going on a vision trip with World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization. We will be in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana, meeting the under-resourced people who allow World Vision to partner with them. It is my hope that spending two weeks being confronted with the immediacy of poverty in Africa will finally help me make the decisions that God has been wanting me to make about my own life. Maybe then, I won’t need the “Kick Me” sign to help me act accordingly on my understanding of the Bible. This terrifies me.

To distract myself from this sense of terror that I may soon be obliged to act accordingly, I am also going on this trip to gain professional perspective on the work I do with poverty here in the US. It is my hope that seeing development work stripped down to its essentials will help me focus on those essentials back home, where poverty is so complex. Seeing first-hand the difference made by providing a well to people who used to have to walk 3 miles daily for clean water must clarify for me the difference made by providing school supplies to inner-city kids.

Please pray for me. I hate traveling but rarely admit that to people because I want to cling so desperately to an image of myself as worldly and sophisticated. However, the reality is that I have experienced significant culture shock the few times I’ve left the country in the past, attempting to shut out the overwhelming experience by staying in my room, acting shy with people I encounter and reading my books whenever possible. I haven’t been anywhere but Canada in the last 9 years. Even Canada was hard. No joke. But I want to gather everything from this trip that I can and I’ll need the support of people that love me to find the courage to look up from my book and actually talk to and learn from people that are so different from me. I’ll also need to trust God that I will be OK when I do so. Trust. Always tricky for me. I’m a scheming swindler.

In addition to your contributions of prayer and love, I also need to ask you to consider contributing financially to my journey. It feels expensive but this is another area in which I am trying to trust that God will take care of me. I am committed to the trip and will spend grad school money if I cannot raise the money to cover my expenses. Please think about whether this trip and the insights I am hoping to gain are something that you can support. You can write a check out to me or go to and make a contribution with your credit card that will be deposited directly into World Vision’s account.

Thank you for caring about me and my attempts to align myself with God’ plan for me. I will welcome any type of contribution to this scary and important journey, including cards and notes of encouragement to take with me. I will be leaving on June 21 and returning July 3. Your prayers during that time will be especially appreciated.

1 comment:

Al said...


I have something for your journey to ensure your safe return. Please provide a snail mail address.

Many blessings,