Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Back to the Coast

Last weekend I got the opportunity to return to Cordoba, where I spent a month this summer. It was great to go back to the community of Santa Rosa, where the toilet block we worked on is now nearly finished. The people there seem quite positive; their crops are growing and they have just about enough land to support themselves. It was a different story in another, longer-established community of displaced people I visited for the first time. They live in well-built concrete houses but have little land and no work. They are hungry. So imagine our reaction when the pastor of the little church asked if we could help them buy a sound system for the church. How would you have responded?

a) How absurd! Your people need food, clothes and work. Surely a sound system is an expensive luxury and should be way down your list of priorities.

b) Mmmmm. Interesting. Why is a sound system of such importance to you, given the other needs you face?

c) Of course. If that is what you perceive as a need, who are we to question that? Let's see what we can do to find you the resources for a sound system.

d) Why can't you see us as people, and not just as potential sources of money?

I still haven't worked out what the right answer is.


Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona!

Just found your blogspot. Really great to hear all your news. So you've become a brickie? Hope the jeans were fitted enough to save you from builder's bottom. Interesting dilemma's you're facing too. We just got back last month from Valtemes' village in Brazil, so I can relate to some of what you mention (toilets, sound systems and motorbike rides!) We're staying at Liz's in East Craigs till December - when's a good time to chat on the phone?

God bless,

love from Kamala

Anonymous said...

(a), (b) and (d). Definitely not (c). Is "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" by Ronald Sider not available in Spanish?

Or offer him some bible notes on the book of Acts.

And how to offer the right thing without offending the pastor? After all, he (usually, unless there's something very different about his church) is the authority there and you are there to help out.

Or maybe he needs to be offended?

Nice moral question! I hope something positive works out on the ground.

Steven Hammer

Manuel ReaƱo said...

Hi Fiona,

I guess your question is so good that it does not have an answer. I would have never understood why on earth someone in his conditions would make such a request, unless I have had to teach and preach under a tin roof when it´s pouring, or half a million kids are just being kids as they use to with such an annoying regularity, or when our next "door" neighbours are being so extremely generous with their music... but I have been in all those situations and believe me, I would crave for a sound system too! Now I´m not trying to justify him or even coming close to saying that he should get what he´s asking for, but if he thinks he´s there to proclaim the gospel and he feels he needs to make himself heard, maybe I can be moved to mercy and just think that it´s a pity that his community´s needs are so many and so desperate that a sound system --just like the ones all of our churches have, loop systems for the hearing impaired included-- becomes suddenly something absurd and even sinful to ask for.

george arthur said...

Hi Fiona,
Just read about the pastor who needs a sound system.
What kind of system does he wish to have and, if we can help, how can we help?