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Ugh. Rice with sauce again?!? My stomach churned. We had eaten rice with sauce with every meal for the last week and I was getting so tired of it. Why couldn’t we just eat a cheeseburger for dinner? Or some pizza? And why didn’t they have Diet Coke? I just want to go home!!!
It was the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I was with my family in Guinea, West Africa, visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins who were missionaries there.
This was long before World Next Door. Long before I began living in slums, sleeping in refugee camps, and eating tarantula and goat brains. I was a picky-eating, comfort-loving, video-game-playing suburban kid, and I was miserable.
I forced myself to take another spoonful. In my head I did a quick mental countdown to the day when I could finally have ice in my drinks again.
Trying to hide the look of agony on my face as I took another bite, I looked out the window. At that exact moment, a small child, perhaps 4 or 5 years old, was standing on a trash heap a few feet away. As I watched, he reached down, picked up a banana peel, and licked off whatever fruit remained.
A chill crept up my spine. My selfishness had been laid bare. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect juxtaposition of my own lack of gratitude and the brokenness of the world.
In one instant I became aware of two kinds of poverties. One was physical poverty – deep, terrible hunger facing an innocent child – the kind of poverty we think of when we use the word.
But the other poverty was my own – a spiritual poverty, a lack of gratitude, a complete disconnection from God’s heart for the world. My eyes had been opened to how little I understood the values of the kingdom of God.
Bringing Poverties Together
Now, I won’t lie and say I never took food for granted again. When the shock of this moment wore off (which took, oh, about a week or two), I went right back to my picky-eating self. But this experience never fully left me, and today I see it as something of a foreshadowing of things to come.
You see, over the last five and a half years, my entire life has been dedicated to bringing spiritual and physical poverty together. That’s the reason World Next Door exists.
Christ-followers on the front lines of God’s kingdom have a LOT to teach the spiritually starved communities of the suburban American Church, and it goes without saying that we have a lot of physical resources to offer the poor and marginalized.
So that’s what WND does. We partner with incredible indigenous leaders at home and around the world, live with them, see the world through their eyes, learn as much as we can from them, then share our stories with people back home.
If we do our job right, World Next Door is a catalyst in offsetting physical and spiritual poverty. We compel people to take action, and God’s kingdom expands as a result!
Helping Us Grow
We’ve seen our mission accomplished in the lives of many over the years, but now we want to grow. We want to reach more people with our stories of healing and hope. We want to introduce more of our partner ministries to the American Church.
We want to have a World Next Door conference, where we fly in leaders from our different partners to teach us (rather than the other way around). We want to expand our storytelling to include a magazine for children (World Next Door Kids, anyone?!?). We want to develop partnerships with more churches across the US.
But to do that, we need people who believe in our mission to support our work financially. That’s why I am climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the beginning of August.
I want to give more people the chance to invest in what God is doing through World Next Door, so I’m looking for individuals to sponsor me with $194 (a penny per foot of the mountain).
Will you sponsor my climb?
Take a look at the next steps below for more information. Or, just click here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Conquering-Kilimanjaro
Let’s work together to bring an end to physical and spiritual poverty in our world!
About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.