This quote is from Strom’s previously mentioned book, Harvest of Hope.


“Many loving, caring people resist donating for HIV/AIDS causes.  This is especially true when organizations focus on women like Kamla who have been involved in prostitution.  It’s so much easier to lower our eyes and trun toward the sweet innocence of hurting children.  Or to reach out to people who are starving or struggling to find clean water for their families to drink, because we know we couldn’t live without food or water either.  It’s easier to empathize with those who have not . . . well . . . you know.

“And yet some donors are able to look into the darkest recesses of need and find the grace to help these most rejected of women and children.  . . . women were being restored. . . . their children excelled in school and sang of Christ’s love at the cultural program.  That the joy of life replaced the gloom of death that had hung so heavily over them.  That hope was driving out despair right before their eyes.” – Harvest of Hope by Kay Marshall Strom, p 108


It also goes really well with my post earlier about my response to the ‘isn’t Africa promiscuous’ question.  I can think of the Sunday School lessons of the woman at the well from whom Jesus asked water and the woman that everyone wanted to stone.  Jesus just wrote in the dirt and told them “Let he with no sin, throw the first stone.”  Everyone left. 


Who am I to judge?  Does everything I do turn out right?  Are my decisions made wisely?  Do I even sometimes intentionally make bad decisions?  Sometimes are those poor decisions the lesser of the evils in my eyes?


So then, does helping those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS due to poor sexual decisions mean that I am condoning that behavior?  Did it mean that Jesus condoned the behavior of the women he talked with?  Through prayer and relationship we can learn from one another and offer love and grace to people where they are and for whom they are.  Isn’t that what we want from others for ourselves?  Isn’t that what Jesus teaches us as he says, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”


Is it easy?  For some it seems so.  For me it is not.  I too often allow my pride and tendancy to judge get in the way of experiencing real love for people.  I pray about that for myself. 


Love and grace.  These words are tossed around like salad these days.  Do we really know what they mean?  I believe that I will have a much better idea after the end of this year.  It’s a neverending process but I pray that my eyes will be opened while I am in Africa to what God’s grace and love are and how he desires for me to live them everyday, in and out of Africa. 


Many of you have heard me talk of the grace of God that I have experienced through many people over the last few years.  He has really opened my eyes to what I do not deserve but what He desires to give me anyway.  I pray that through this year, I will learn to better offer that same grace to others as it has and is being offered to me.