In a village of about 3000 people in the bush country of West Africa, life is study in paradox. Villagers have “squatty potties” which are holes in the ground for bathrooms, and cooking is done over charcoal fires. And yet in the middle of the village is a coke machine powered by a car battery which is continually charged by a generator near by. This past year a major European company named “Orange” installed a cell phone tower.
People that plow and sow by hand and barely scrape by will still have a cell phone. They wear clothes day in and day out for as long as they can before they are absolute shreds. Shoe are what we would call “flip flops” and are knit back together with cord or anything that will keep it on the bottom of their feet. The houses are mud bricks with thatch roofs.
The water comes from a ground level well that is ultimately water flavored by cow and donkey droppings, dirt, and whatever else falls in.
It is a strange life, much as would have been in the first century. From these Africans we have learned real joy, the value of relationships, and often what is really important. In turn we have shared with them the Good News of Jesus Christ, and offered some help with doing things a “better way”. But change is slow. Medical needs are often treated by the tribal medicine man, and life continues to be very difficult. Children are fortunate to make it to adulthood.
I saw on the internet the other day that if the income in a household is $36,000 per adult, then you are in the upper 1% of the richest people in the world. We are spoiled with affluence and yet it is never enough. Jesus said, “What does it profit a person if they gain the whole world, but forfeit their soul?” Words unleashed for this Saturday.