You can simply drop children into the conversation and suddenly it changes everything. Every motive, every angle, every action revolves around kids.
“Is it good for the children,” we ask.
We have all kinds of laws and protections that surround our kids, because we love them so much. We want the best for them. We want them to grow up, to be safe, to be happy, to have big dreams.
But as I wander around Africa, I am realizing that these questions are not enough.
Because when we ask “Is it good for the children?” we of course mean our children. We mean our own kids. We mean American children. We mean the kids on our block or the kids in our church.
And plenty of children are lost in that question.
Think about all of the values we bring to parenting.
Most of us do not believe children should have to do physical labor. Yet children here in Uganda must do very hard work, Hauling forty pound cans of water on their backs is only the beginning of childhood labor in the third world.
None of us would tell a child that if they want shoes that they would have to buy them with their own money. We give our kids allowances. Yet children in the third world must learn to earn money very early, sweeping yards or washing or some other work, just to provide themselves with necessities like shoes.
None of us would give our kids garbage for Christmas to play with. Our kids deserve fun, expensive, battery operated toys to play with. But children here make their own toys, out of trash. I literally saw kids running down the road rolling bike tires with sticks. I don’t think a single American child has played that game in a hundred years.
No parent in America would tell their child that they must buy their own schoolbooks. Yet a textbook here can cost as much as a month’s salary, so most children have never owned a book. Not to mention Bibles. The average American household contains four dusty copies of the Bible, while books are luxury item here.
None of us believe that our kids should ever go hungry. We would not tolerate it. If our kids were hungry, we would feed them. Many American parents have sacrificed to feed their kids. But here in the third world, if a kid is starving, it means the mother is dead or dying because she already gave her last meal to her child.
You know, Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but I don’t think we’ve quite applied that to our neighbors’ children.
See, parents here in the third world are no different from you and me. They love their kids. They don’t want them to go hungry. They want them to be happy. And many of them have laid down their lives just to try to feed their kids. It is not for lack of trying or laziness. It’s not a character defect on the part of the parents that causes third world kids to live the way they do.
The only character defect I can find, the only source of laziness I can detect, the only lack of effort I can see as I look out onto the horizon in this broken land is in me. I see every dollar I stingily held in my hand. I see every careless, wasteful expenditure I ever made. I see my lifestyle that says without words, “All children are equal. But some children are more equal than others.” We believe that God loves our kids more. We believe our kids deserve more simply because they are our kids.
Friends, we are on this trip to raise money for infant rescue centers here in Uganda. We have seen the facilities, we have played with the kids who have been rescued from the slums. These children are so precious and the work that is being done with what few resources are available here is beyond belief. The only thing even more beyond belief is how much further the need extends. Please consider partnering with us today and rescue a child from a fate that you would not allow to befall our children.