Love looks like something. That was the message I continually heard during my 3 month stay in Mozambique last fall. I traveled across the world to Pemba, Mozambique to take part in a missions school run by Rolland and Heidi Baker. I wanted to learn to love, and God took me to Africa to show me how. My time in Mozambique was unlike any I’ve known before. I saw the desperation and unbelievable hunger of the poor. I witnessed the freedom of those who live simply. I saw the joy that comes from enjoying the beauty of nature and the warmth of friendship. I walked through bush lands, stayed in huts, ate gazelle, and watched women carry large objects wrapped in cloth on their heads. I swam in the Indian Ocean and slept outdoors, in a "billion-star hotel."
I had remarkable adventures, but by far the most enjoyable part of Africa was the children. Their bright, colorful faces shone as they eagerly ran to you on dusty roads. Everywhere we went, there seemed to be children ready to follow. They just wanted to be with us. We’d walk out of our home, and see them waiting for us. They’d call our names, and say hello in their native language. On Sunday afternoons we’d go swimming, and there would be hundreds of kids playing in the water. None of them had bathing suits, like we have in the U.S, yet none of them cared. They just jumped in with tattered shorts, and t-shirts. I’d often see boys walking around with toys they made by hand, from wood scraps and metal. They’d craft instruments and little cars, with such amazing creativity. They couldn’t afford store bought toys, so they made their own. I was delighted to see them find pleasure in the smallest things.
While I was with these kids, I often thought of America. I thought of our laws and the mentalities that prevail in our nation. I honestly wondered if these children would have survived if they were born in the U.S. They are poor, black and many are uneducated. Would they be wanted in America? Abortion is legal in some cases in Mozambique, but you would never think so because of the number of children you see. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people in the U.S who tell me it would be better for a child not to be born, than to live in poverty or dire circumstances. After all, they reason, we must be “responsible”. Have 2 kids, make sure you give them all the trinkets they need, and start saving for college when their in kindergarten. That’s the way we think. It’s not entirely wrong to think that way. It’s good to provide for our children, and to work hard to care for the ones we have. But, how many are we willing to have? What number is too high? What number makes us uncomfortable? Would we risk having one more, if we knew they would receive less material possessions? As I watched hundreds of kids splashing in the ocean, I saw the beauty and value in each one. One less child would be a loss to this world. Yet by our standards, a poor woman having multiple children is a tragedy.
I know there are no easy answers for poverty. We all know kids have to eat. They need clothes, and shelter. Who’s going to provide for them if their parent’s can’t? Most days, I felt helpless and overwhelmed by the needs around me. That realization of my frailty causes me to cry out to God for help. In America, we depend on our strength and wisdom to provide for our needs. We thank God for the food that we bought from the store, with our paychecks from our jobs. Often we acknowledge God, but deep down we believe our provision comes from our own labor. Many believers in Africa ask God to do signs and wonders. Nothing, strange, just the same things Jesus did in the Bible. They ask Him to multiply food, and He does. They ask them to raise the dead, and He does. They ask Him to heal the sick, and they stand in awe as eyes open and deaf hear. I’ve seen it. They can’t afford to go to the doctor. They can’t buy food from the grocery store. The poor don’t have many options. Either God comes through or they die. Sometimes it’s just that cut and dry. This dependency on God challenged me. What if we could believe God for miracles like they do? Maybe that would free us to do crazy things like adopt children, even if we didn’t know how all the money would come in.
One question that came to me in Africa was " If you can’t abort them, then what?” We use abortion as birth control in America. Kid interferes with your graduate studies- abort. Married with one too many- abort. Don’t like the gender- abort. Ultrasound shows a disability- get rid of them. But what if you couldn’t? What if wasn’t legal? Then what would we do? What would the church do?
I guess then we’d need a plan. Then we’d have to really pray. Then we would have to lay down our lives and help these children. At least I hope we would. Legalized abortion isn’t an abortion for many women in Mozambique. So their children are born poor, and in need. Someone has to step in. Thousands of children won’t be ignored. Someone has to give. Someone has to love. Love looks like something. A bowl of rice. A pair of shoes. A listening ear. A silent prayer. It’s not hard, but it does cost something.
Abortion won’t always be an option in America. When that day comes, there will be thousands of kids who need a mom, dad, and lots of love. Honestly, there are thousands of kids right now who need a family. Who will be willing to give to them? Jesus said "Whatsoever we do to the least of these, we do unto Him.” (Mt 25:40) What does it look like to love the children of our nation?