Friday, September 19, 2014


I saw a homeless person on my way to the hospital, and another on my way back.

On my way to the hospital, there was a man on the side of the road, in his mid-to-late twenties—my age, in other words, more or less—holding a tiny cardboard sign that was too small to read from the center lane. He was smiling, and almost had a slight spring in his step.

On my way from the hospital, there was a girl. She was in her early twenties at the oldest, and had much less positivity in her demeanor. It was about 8:30 at night; she was standing in the small halo cast by a streetlight. Her cardboard sign was larger, more legible. It read:


This struck me as a very peculiar statement for a homeless person to make while asking for help. A hundred or more thoughts ran through my mind about her story, her situation, about what her motivation could be for deciding to write this bold, uncanny statement.

Was she saying that she had given up hope? That she didn't know what to believe in? That, if there is a god, surely he wouldn't have allowed her to come down so far?

Was she saying something about Christians? Has she been burned by Christians? Had they done this to her? Has her general experiences with Christians left her with the impression that she was more likely to receive help from people who do not identify themselves as Christians?

Or perhaps she wanted to distance herself from other homeless people, wanted everyone who passed by to know that she was different from the others. Maybe she simply wanted to be completely honest. Maybe she was trying to say, “You—whoever you are, whoever your god is—you could end up here too.”

It was not until I passed by, seeing her sign from a slightly different angle, that I noticed her hand had been covering the 'b'. In actuality, her sign read:


On the one hand, this clarified quite a bit. This was more standard. At least superficially, the one letter can make a world of difference; it gave her humble sign almost the opposite meaning. Most probably, none of those thoughts or questions would have crossed my mind if I had seen the 'b' from the beginning.

Then again, on the other hand, I wonder if this one letter still doesn't tell the whole story.

God or no god, was she giving up hope? What did she believe in? Had she ever imagined herself here?

God or no god, was she being honest? Did she sincerely wish God would bless everyone that passed her by, in all of the ways that she herself was not being blessed?

In the end, I'm not so certain how much the one letter mattered.

'B' or no 'b', she was a young, homeless mother in desperate need of help.

Incidentally, an experiment: in that last statement, replace the letter 'b' with the word 'god'.

'B' or no 'b', she was a young, homeless mother in desperate need of help.
God or no god, she was a young, homeless mother in desperate need of help.

The devil is in the details, they say. But then again, perhaps God is too.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Invisible Children

There is a war going on. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you haven’t.

And I don’t mean that in a clever way. I don’t mean a “war of words”; I don’t mean a disagreement between the left and the right, the old and the new. And I don’t mean the spiritual war that your pastor is always talking about, between the forces of good and evil, or the “powers that be.”

Actually, maybe I do mean a spiritual war. Because any way you look at it, something isn’t right here. Something that needs good people to stand up and do something about it.

But I also mean the kind of war that uses guns. Hate. Molotov Cocktails. Torture. Rape. Displaced children. Missing persons. Homes torn apart. Young boys forced to become soldiers in an army that is ironically, purposefully called the “Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).”

Young boys forced to slaughter their own families.

This is the war I’m talking about. This is the war that is happening in Africa right now, as you read this, as I write this.

If you haven’t heard of Invisible Children, you need to.

In short, they are the ones who are actively, restlessly, passionately working to undo this wounding, scratching, screaming, tear- and blood-soaked war. They are the ones who are calling the soldiers to lay down their guns and come home—telling these soldiers that the open arms of family and community are still here, that an education is possible, that peace can actually happen in this world, in their world.

And, if it helps, here are 85 reasons that Invisible Children does precisely what they do:

·         On August 4 of this year, a 16-year old boy defected from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), ultimately arriving in safety in Nzako, Central African Republic (CAR).
·         On August 9, 13 women and children were released from the LRA.
·         The next day, 33 more women and children were released in Digba, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
·         On August 27, 12 men, women, and children escaped from the LRA in the Bili-Ango-Digba Triangle, DRC, during a reported clash between the LRA and Congolese security forces.
·         On September 2, 26 women and children were released from the LRA near Kiliwa, DRC.

This comes to an unprecedented 85 escapees/returnees from the LRA, in a matter of only 28 days. 
In 28 days, 85 men, women, and children got their lives back.
In 28 days, 85 men, women, and children got another chance at happiness and normality.
In 28 days, 85 men, women, and children got to take their hands and use them for peace instead of for destruction.
In 28 days, with our help—that is, with yours and mine and your friends’ and my friends’ and even the people we don’t know or like—imagine how many more reasons Invisible Children will have to keep up the fight, to undo the hurt, to show the wounded that they still have a home.
What have you accomplished in the last 28 days? More importantly, what can you accomplish in the next 28 days?
Invisible Children is—quite literally—changing the course of the world.
Invisible Children is—quite literally—introducing hope where there is none.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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