Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Story that Broke My Heart - and Why

The second link to a thought-provoking article I posted here on my blog (way back in September 2007) was one that hit me really hard when I first read it.  It is about life in Africa and the practical application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I decided to re-post it now, since I wasn't able to work on my New Year's Resolution post this week.  I am providing the link and then my own commentary on what hit me so hard when I first read it. 

Little Street Vendor - Wilfried Decoo

I do not mean to call the teacher a Pharisee. I am much less bothered by the “buying something on Sunday” aspect as I was by this thought:
“We shouldn’t chase that vendor away, but if you don’t buy from her, SHE WON’T COME BACK.”

Those last four words are what broke my heart.

Not buying from her is one thing; not putting our arms around her and not talking with her and not thinking that perhaps God inspired a choice daughter to take up a post at our church and not inviting her into our fellowship but, instead, truly chasing her away - that breaks my heart. I want her there - where she is relatively safe, where she at least can hear that she is a child of God, where she can rest with faith that families with children of their own (relatively well-dressed, clean, happy children) will understand her plight the best they can and have pity on her, etc. Taking that away from her - that breaks my heart. She’s not an object lesson for Sabbath Day observance; she’s a daughter of God and my spiritual sister - and using her as the first instead of treating her as the second broke my heart.

I understand the overwhelming nature of poverty in Africa and the hesitancy to do anything that might encourage hundreds of poor vendors to flock to the Church, but I have a feeling that the astute businesswoman in that little girl would have recognized the benefit of keeping her spot hidden from competition. I wonder if anyone sat down with her and just talked with her about her life, about the Gospel, about the Restoration, about her divine nature as a daughter of God. Whether or not anyone gave her money or bought something from her, did anyone take the time just to love her and listen to her. Wonder of wonders, she can read!  I wonder if anyone even thought to give her a Book of Mormon or something else to engage her mind. 

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these . . .” couldn’t find a more perfect application than this little street vendor - and would we really want to ignore Him, so He won't come back? .


Stephen said...

Places of such bitter poverty are so wrenching.

Gwennaƫlle said...

You often qualify things as "thought provoking" when I struggle to find anything provoking most of the time. I think it is mostly cultural. This time I am with you. Absolutely with you. If I get a chance I will share it.

Anonymous said...

What makes this even more disheartening to me is that we, the Church, made that returned missionary what he is, someone who missed the mark, someone who does not have the charity of Jesus written in his heart, who apparently does not live the first two commandments, but someone who has become just like the Jews we Mormons love to criticize from the New Testament times. The RM is a lover of the law.

The Margin Wight said...

The problem here is a lack of creativity. Keeping the commandments has always been such an either-or, cut-and-dried, black-and-white proposition. Buying on Sunday violates the commandment to sanctify the Sabbath, but donating money to the little girl in return for sharing treats would not. Yes, I'm splitting hairs, but I see it as a way to do real good for the girl without impinging on obedience. It just takes a little creative problem-solving. To hope that the girl goes away, however, is rather heartless.

Papa D said...

Thanks, TMW. I really like that sort of creativity - and the fact that it is solution-focused.