I talked before about how I’m not a very good missionary. My heart breaks for those who are lost, for those who wander without the hope of Christ to anchor them in this stormy, tempestuous world. I have only in the last year been moved a bit myself to start reaching out, to start trying to be part of the solution, to move from the bench to the playing field, or as it may be, the mission field. I am trying to encourage my children to consider what it is to become the hands and feet of Christ too. We are finding ways to incorporate this idea into our homeschooling, and having become an Advocate for Compassion has helped us to get involved on a more meaningful level.
Dan King is a regular guy with a regular job with an anything-but-regular story of how he moved from being a “pew-warmer to a poverty-fighter”. A couple of years ago, Dan took on a challenge to write a Blog post for Blog Action Day, in October, 2008. The topic that year was Poverty. He no idea that this would be the first major step into a new ministry for him, helping to fight poverty. It’s amazing how God works! I just read a copy of his book, The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter , and it was excellent.
Dan was gracious enough to answer four questions for me, (and for you) I hope you will get a copy of Dan’s book and read it for yourself. One of my favorite things about this book, is that at the end of each chapter, Dan gives a few praxis points. I loved this because sometimes, a book like this can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do with all of this information about reaching out to those in need. Poverty is an overwhelming thing, and having these praxis points help focus what you have read into a way that encourages you to take action. His ideas and encouragement are a great addition to his stores and experiences throughout the book.
So here are my 4 questions and Dan’s answers:
When Blog Action Day 2008 came around, I had been working with our Young Adults (20-somethings) ministry at the church, and ‘poverty’ was one of those things that it was cool to say that we were concerned about. But I really had no clue as to the extent and horrific realities of what life in extreme poverty was really like. So discovering Blog Action Day AND that the topic was going to be on poverty was kind of a no-brainer for me. I just knew that I had to do it. But I learned about Blog Action Day and that it was on the topic of poverty at the same time. Realizing that I had to figure out the truth about it in order to write on the topic was the big eye-opener though… It didn’t take a lot of research, but being intentional about learning more about a topic that I knew I should be concerned about was the key. I’ll never forget the feeling… the pit in my stomach… that I has when I started understanding the extent of the problem. Even more so when I later started meeting the people who lived hungry.
2. It’s pretty amazing the way God’s hand is so clearly evident in your story, how he connected you to the people at Five Talents. When all of this was happening, did you feel at all overwhelmed or nervous about jumping in, or was it more like a willing leap into this ministry? I ask because I know sometimes, when God has called me out, I have to really battle fear to take that step of faith… I’m always curious about how others go all in when God calls.
I definitely felt overwhelmed! I read a while ago about taking a leap of faith, like Peter walking on water. It’s like being a kid standing on the side of the swimming pool trying to find the courage to jump in. Your dad is in the water telling you that he’ll catch you, but there’s that moment when you leave your feet, and there’s no going back. It’s scary, but that’s when you just have to trust that dad’s not going to let you drown. So yes, there was fear, anxiety, and all of that stuff. But just like the kid jumping into the pool, once I hit the water I started to realize how wonderful it really is. I still took a great deal of trusting, and when I took the leap there was a great peace that surrounded my whole household. I knew I was in God’s will where I was at, and my wife even talks about how easy it was for her at home while I was gone for two and a half weeks.
3. Now that you are back from such a life-changing trip, how has it affected you? Have you made changes at home in how you live, or work or experience your faith as a result of our experiences on your trip?
It’s impacted my whole family. For example, my son (8 years old right now) has developed a huge heart for the poor and orphaned. I ended up going to Haiti last year after the earthquakes largely because of what I saw God doing in his heart. He’s raised $1,300 to help build a playground for orphans in Haiti. And it’s how he’s beginning to recognize other people’s faith in Christ. During a TV game show in which some ladies where raising money to help an orphanage in Central America, he told me that they loved Jesus. When I asked him how he knew, he told me that it was because they loved orphans just like he does. But he’s seeing me live out my faith by trying to help others in the world who are less fortunate, and by using the great blessings that we have every day. And then he’s growing up with the idea that THIS is what it means to be a Christian, this is how we show the world God’s love.
4. Is there a single scripture that you cling to, when you feel the weight poverty bearing down? What words from God help you keep your chin up and your head and heart engaged in being part of the solution?
Hmmm… I don’t know if there’s one verse that makes me feel like everything is okay, but I definitely cling to Micah 6:6-8. I love this passage because it’s one of those passages that shows a New Testament God in the Old Testament. It’s God saying that he doesn’t care about the legalistic offerings that people bring. What he does want is for us to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him. To me that says that if I want to be in the presence of God, then the best way to do that is to be around and help those who’ve gotten the short end of the stick in life. There are many in this world who live under some form of oppression, and extreme poverty is a great example of that. And whether I’m in the slums of Africa, or in front of my house having a garage sale to raise money for a project in Haiti… I’ve most felt in the presence of God when I’m serving those who are probably going to bed hungry tonight.