So, I've written about Katie before...more than once (link provided is her summed-up story of how she got to where she is now that I posted back in November of last year).
But, just recently have been introduced by her to another girl like her (and some of her volunteers). They live near Katie and they work together alot...and I do mean work. I am continuously encouraged and challenged by these girls. Wow.
We just have no idea. We are so..."American."
Most of you who read this blog are literally American (from the United States that is; I learned years ago that people from all over the Americas...North, Central, and South...have the right to be referred to as Americans and some do refer to themselves that way, so we need to be careful; although, when most people hear 'American' they think of someone from the United States; but, just be aware). Some of you aren't American in nationality, but still...the mindset of the typical American is found worldwide.
You know that I adore being an American. I LOVE the United States of America and all that it has to offer...which is more than any other place in the world. In general. It does not have everything, but generally speaking and collectively speaking, it is the land of opportunity unlike any other land.
I love the ways of the United States...the ease, the order, the traditions, the generosity, the comfort. Don't get me wrong...Americans know how to sacrifice as well. The greater good so often calls for great sacrifice and the United States is generally always up for that task. But, the point is that compared to the rest of the world, gosh, the United States is just so greatly blessed in all manners of speaking. Being American is great...and is a blessing. But with great blessing comes great responsibility. How many of us are really living up to that responsibility though? And how many of us are even looking past the ends of our noses or the ends of our streets or the borders of our towns to see what we could possibly become responsible for?
As I said, most of you reading this blog (and I writing it) are either American or have a more 'American' (or 'westernized' we can say) way of living.
But, the truth is, and I am continually learning this...God has not called us to be American. Now, you might be called to live in the United States. You might live in all its traditions and comfort and ease. There's nothing wrong with that. But...the mindset that you are somehow entitled to those things, that it is somehow supposed to be the norm for you, is not a God-calling. The mindset (and heart that leads to the mindset) of sacrifice and servanthood...that is our God-calling. Everyone's calling.
Read, watch, and learn. The stories of Katie and Renee will catapult you to a new level of understanding of what that sacrifice, that we are all called to in one way or another, really looks like in a real life (you can also check out some of the blogs of short-term volunteers who have helped them out here and on the sidebar of Renee's blog). They are called to extreme sacrifice, although I would guess that they probably wouldn't word it that way. They would probably just call it Christianity. Are you willing to sacrifice extremely? Are you willing to sacrifice it ALL? Whether you are ever actually asked to do it or not, we need to all have the hearts that are willing.
P.S. It seems that there is the requirement of beauty to work in this extreme way. :) Kidding, but well, sort of not kidding. Seriously...I think it is just so like God to do this. He is very 'in the know.' He knows pop culture. He knows about what draws our attention. Honestly, if these girls were not so beautiful (and this is sad to say but very true and you know it), we wouldn't think it was a big deal. If they were, well, unattractive (as we categorize attractiveness in our culture...all are beautiful creations of God), our culture would say something like 'well, they don't have anything else to do...might as well spend their lives serving impoverished lands.' Whereas, what we see as beautiful in our American/westernized eyes, they honestly have more opportunities in some ways...socially. So, when they give that up...college, clubs, relationships, etc....to go serve not only in a foreign land, but in a very messy, difficult, extreme existence...well, that's just something that grabs our attention more. God is so clever...all-knowing actually, after all. I'm so thankful for these girls who are so strong and obedient. Who live out a very clear, direct, and full-on life of total abandon. And for the parents of these girls who raised them to be so, and who trust God's calling in their lives, even at such a young age (and I do mean young!!).
Let's look outward. Let's look at the whole world, not just the world around the spot we are standing in at the moment. Make sure you aren't doing the things you are doing just because that's what everyone else does...finish high school, go to college, get married, buy a house, have your 1.5 kids, get a dog. Not bashing that at all. But just make sure you are not limiting yourself...limiting God and what He wants to do with you and through you.
These girls embody this verse...
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. -1 Timothy 4:12
And this verse...
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. -Matthew 19:29
Check out their blogs. Check out their websites. Help them out financially. Pray for them. And be encouraged, challenged, and changed by their lives.
And...watch these videos about Serving His Children, the organization that Renee started. Then get to know Renee a little better in the last video, a news interview done while she was back in the states this summer.