Thursday, September 13, 2012

Action speaks louder than words

About six months after the earthquake that killed twenty thousand people in Gujarat, India, in 2001, I visited there.  The region had been flattened; nearly every house and building had collapsed.  Several of my colleagues and I were there to dedicate the first of hundreds of new houses built through a partnership between Wold Vision, Habitat for Humanity, and USAID.  The resilient Indian people, with some help from outsiders, were beginning to put their lives back together and move on, even though their human losses had been unimaginable to most of us in the West.

During the dedication proceedings, a group of village elders sat just a few yards behind us, observing everything.  They looked like majestic and dignified figures from the pages of National Geographic, with deeply lined faces; long white beards and mustaches; and turbaned heads.  As the event wore on, they were having quite a lively conversation in their local dialect.  They could not have known that one of my colleagues Atul Tandon, had grown up in that very region and understood every word they were saying.

After the ceremony, Atul share with me what he had overheard.  He said the the men were speculating as to why 'these Christians' had traveled thousands of miles across the ocean to help their community rebuild.  They wondered what motivated complete strangers to help them.  They were experiencing the love of God and the kingdom of God in profound ways through the concrete love and action demonstrated by Christians, acting through the Habitat for Humanity and World Vision organizations.

Saint Francis of Assisi understood the power of faith put into action to change the human heart, for it was he who said, 'Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.'  We had not yet spoken a word in their language, but the village elders had already 'heard' the gospel.

-- Richard Stearns
The Hole in Our Gospel
pages 22-23

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen!

Dan Vaughn said...

As the extreme Right Wing of Christendom continues to alienate much of our nation (USA) and the world, preaching the Good News by actions may be all that's left to us. But then, maybe that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Great book by a great guy who runs a great organization.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

I thought it was the left who generally believes in murdering babies.