I’d like to point you toward two recent thought-provoking articles from Christianity Today. Both appear under CT‘s “This Is Our City” banner.
The first is written by Rachel Pieh Jones, who blogs at Djibouti Jones. It’s titled “You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice,” with the tag, “Why the activism of some fellow Americans scares me.”
At her blog Jones writes,
Today I have an article at Christianity Today and I’m kinda scared about it. [. . .] The article looks at the current trends of using intentional purchases (fair trade coffee, etc) to fight injustice worldwide, from the perspective of someone (me) who has spent more than a decade living overseas, working toward development and human dignity in the Horn of Africa. [. . .] I’m afraid people will be offended or get mad. [. . .] But . . . well . . . there it is. I have a lot to learn, which I hope comes across in the essay and I look forward to learning from you because overwhelmingly, you challenge me to think better, to not be complacent, and you handle my messy process with grace.
From the CT article: “I have a theory about what is partly contributing to the dearth of young Americans willing to spend their lives on behalf of others,” Jones writes. “They think they already are.”
The second article is “Choosing Marriage over the Mission Field,” about “How Tim Kietzman, a successful missionary eye doctor, chose quiet faithfulness despite enormous needs in Pakistan.”
After moving with his family overseas, Kietzman served 10 years as an ophthalmologist in the Pakistani valley of Gilgit. But according to the article, his “boldest act for God may have been coming home from Pakistan to repair his marriage of almost 30 years.”
How he came to make that choice involved re-understanding something Kietzman calls the “Isaac syndrome.” “Missionary kids are the sacrificial child for their parents doing what God wants them to do,” he said. “A lot of times they feel like they’re under the knife . . . like they’re second-class citizens.” Compounded by the sense of missing out on their home culture, the Isaac syndrome can leave missionary kids with spiritual baggage.
The Kietzmans returned to the States when “the Isaac role quietly fell on their marriage,” when it “eventually proved too much.”
Read these articles to have your thoughts challenged on making a difference globally—challenged by people who are not writing about theories, but who are writing about the push and pull and stretch and pressures on their own lives—lived “over there” and “over here.”
(Rachel Pieh Jones, “Why I’m Afraid of American Christians,” Djibouti Jones, May 15, 2013; Rachel Pieh Jones, “You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice,” Christianity Today, May 14, 2013; Anna Broadway, “Choosing Marriage over the Mission Field,” Christianity Today, June 13, 2013)
[photo: “Tug of War,” by toffehoff, used under a Creative Commons license]