Friday, April 23, 2010

The Nomads of Niger – Shawn Vickar Guest Blog

 

Paul and I and the kids are away on vacation at the moment. We are getting a much needed time of refreshing! You can follow us on facebook and see pics if you are so inclined.

In the meantime I had asked Shawn Vickars to write a guest blog for you all and to share his impressions and thoughts on his time in Niger with us a few weeks ago. Enjoy the read. Thanks Shawn!

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During the end of March through Easter Sunday in April, our family (Gin and myself, our children Eden, and Kiam, and my parents Lesley and Shelley) spent two full weeks in and around Niamey with Paul and Chantelle and their team. Let me tell you, this was truly an eye-opening experience.

I remember the last sermon I preached before heading out to the Alliance Assembly and then to Niger was a message on stewardship. It began with some thoughts from 1 Timothy 6: 17-18 which says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

First, I remember commenting in my message on the fact that as Canadians, Calgarians, and Westerners…we are rich. All of us belong to a part of the world and people in the world whom God has blessed. We are a privileged people, and consequently, we are those that God calls rich in this world, and therefore he calls to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. Let me tell you: before I left for Niger – that is, when I preached that sermon – I knew that we were blessed people, a privileged people; a rich people. Anything I had read, anything I’d thought about, my life experiences themselves had affirmed that this was true.

Nevertheless, nothing could have prepared me for the kind of realization and conviction that I now have about this truth. Whereas I believed it before, now I have seen it and know it in a completely different way. Having visited Niamey and the surrounding areas, having walked the dirt paths of the villages, having seen the malnourished or the exploited Talibae children who are sent to beg on the streets by their local religious leader – I believe it in a completely different manner.

I truly believe we are the rich in the world…and because of that…Jesus is calling for a response from His church to be the solution in parts of the globe like Niger where there is so much need and so little help.

A day following the launch of the grain aid distribution program, Gini and I went with a translator to visit one of the families that had participated in the program and received grain, oil, and powdered milk.

* visiting with a local elder who was part of the grain aid program

We spent some time seeking to understand their needs and their way of life in Niger, how things are changing and how they long to get ahead, how they strive to feed their children and provide an opportunity for their children just to get an education. We learned that through the team that Paul and Chantelle are a part of, this food distribution and education program was the first time anyone from the “outside” had ever helped this family. I’ll never forget that. What blew me away was the reality that there are people in our world, living in conditions that we Westerners would never imagine or perhaps even believe, and that they have never even been extended a helping hand.

* visiting a home. This family lives in two straw huts on an open lot with many animals running around. They pull one electrical wire from a neighbours house to run a small light bulb or fan occasionally for the night.

How amazing is it that Rockyview Alliance Church would send me as their pastor to Niger to see the McIver’s and their ministry firsthand? How amazing is it that the Lord provided the way for my entire family to come with? How amazing is it that Paul and Chantelle would open their homes, their lives and their ministry to us for two full weeks? It was all so incredible, as have been the continuing lessons, conversations and implications that we have brought home with us personally, and for our church at Rockyview.

*Gini helping the women wash and sift through the rice to remove bugs and stones before cooking it over an open fire.

In the end, when I consider that family that we spent time with – and realize that they represent countless other families who have never received a helping hand – how amazing is it that Jesus has called each of us who belong to His church to be those hands…His hands to a hungry and helpless world.

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

-Matthew 25:37-40

 

 

* visiting children who are a part of the education programs

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I know you can't help but be changed after having this experience. heather