ROCK International Blog

The purpose of this blog is to give you an inside look at what is happening through ROCK around the world, the stories behind those activities, and the lessons being learned throughout the journey. Thanks for joining us!

SOMETIMES IT TAKES A SWEET POTATO

His hands were caked with the grime and grunge of a Middle Eastern street. Pointing to the slab of cement we could (with a bit of imagination) call a sidewalk, Mahamadou, my nine-year old friend, invited me to have a seat. Following his lead, I sat beside him. With a delicate touch, he took the sweet potato in hand which he had just purchased with precious coins collected from selling Kleenex on the street. Gently dividing it in two, he broke the potato giving me a generous half. It was in that moment that I realized a simple truth.

Though my earthly home was thousands of miles away, Arabic was in no way my native tongue, the street had never been my home, and we shared few commonalities in life—at that moment, thanks to an act of love and a sweet potato, all walls had been broken down. What was left were two guys sitting on the street eating half a sweet potato.

This has little to do with food. It’s about friendship.

My little friend offered me something few give. Everything. He invited me into his home, the street. Unashamed of the conditions, I was the honored guest at his table, with sweet potato on the menu. I had seen him walk across the street to a local street vendor who was roasting potatoes. Though his little stomach was probably throbbing for food far more than my western belly, he offered dinner at his expense asking nothing in return. Nothing, except the presence of a friend.

Mahamadou taught me a lesson on life.

We perceive the walls between us and those around us to be massive. We read the news and think of perpetrators of violence, political unrest, and social injustice—in labels rather than lives. With so many nations, peoples, languages, cultures, political affiliations, and diverse opinions on social issues swirling throughout our world, it’s quite simple to miss the individual.

Sometimes it takes a sweet potato.

Are we prepared to see walls fall by inviting our neighbors or those we perceive as different INTO our home? To our table? At our expense? Looking for NOTHING in return but conversation and friendship? Are we prepared to use our ears before our mouth? Are we intending to listen before offering answers? Are we ready to care before correcting? Are we ready to demonstrate compassion before condemnation? Love is messy and it won’t be convenient or efficient.

Do we WANT walls to fall?

This is what Jesus Christ came to do. Pull down walls. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:13-14)

How did He do it? He joined our world.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… (1 John 1:1-2)

Jesus lived among us. Invited us to dinner. Accepted our dinner invitations. Was called “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19)

I am convinced there is no TRUE life outside the eternal peace found in Jesus. If we want to communicate the love of Jesus Christ to those around us, we must also communicate the life of Jesus Christ.

Are you holding onto preconceptions of someone? Anyone? Have them over for dinner. It doesn’t require much.

Sometimes it only takes half a sweet potato.

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When the Power Seems to Be Out

In much of Niger (a nation where ROCK International is the channel for many projects), electricity is minimal. In fact, Niger is officially the least developed nation in our world today according the Human Development Index published by the United Nations. 

After living my first year+ without this modern convenience, my house was finally connected to the capital's electrical grid. This did not guarantee electricity, but it did offer the potential for power in the home. Due to powerful surges, my breaker flips quite often, but because the electricity is frequently cut off, it’s tough to know which occurred. On more than one occasion, I have gone hours without electricity only to realize the power is on, but my breaker is off. The source of power was available, but simply put, I didn’t tap into it. 

How often is this true in our lives as well? For followers of Jesus Christ, God has given us everything we need to live godly, holy lives. In 2 Peter 1:3, the apostle states, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Too often we fail to tap into the power available. 

Instead of surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we just try harder. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the needs, sadness, and terror surrounding us, but the power to live with the lights on (peace, joy, and eternal perspective) is possible. Not because of some psychological ploy or physiological effort, but because of Jesus Christ who is our salvation, strength, and song. He has already connected us to abundant eternal life (not to be mistaken with an easy life). 

Live in the light of His powerful promises. 

The power is on.
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