The number of murdered, displaced, raped and mutilated in Congo is staggering. Proverbs 24:11-12 exhorts us to "deliver those who are being taken away to death". This applies both to the people living across the street and across the globe from us. What must our response be, then, as the church of Jesus Christ, as the body know as Watermark, and as individuals, neighbors, parents, and Americans?
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For those of you who aren't familiar with Steven Curtis Chapman's story, and Doug said it well. He has seen the horrors around the world. He has seen it in his own driveway. He lost his little girl through a tragic accident on his son's graduation day when he was pulling out of the driveway and didn't see his sister.
Yet in the midst of all of that, here's a man who cries out with just unspeakable pain. "God, this is yours. This driveway was yours when that happened to my little girl, Hope. This world is your and what's happening right now in Congo and Darfur and in North Dallas is happening. It's yours and that means I'm yours. I'm not just yours by decree. I am yours by decision.
While everything that is not yours by decision continues to run just in a reckless way toward rebellion and makes it look like you're not a very loving God, and judgment will come on them in due course, if I'm yours, a greater question is, those of us who understand we're not just yours by decree but have come to know you and personally decided that we are yours…What am I doing?
How am I living? How is the driveway of my life? Is it a source of terror to this world or healing and hope and peace and reconciliation and godly leadership? Gang, that's the question. When we sing, "It's all yours," let's not just sit back as some distant observers. The question is…If all is his and we are his, what are we doing?
If we're acting like our life is ours, our possessions are ours, our time is ours, there is a consequence for us as we stand before him and as others as they wonder why he isn't moving. We always give you a chance to say, "Hi," to each other when you come in here, and you know what? One of the biggest problems we have, one of the reasons this church is not the church Christ wants it to be in the city is because we go to see what they're going to do at church today.
We forget that we are the church today. What we try and do when we come in here is encourage you, remind you, correct you, reprove you, care for you, and spur you on to love and good deeds. I am spurred on every week. Jordan got here early. I saw him out there all alone in his pickup setting up signs so you know where to park and where not to park so we don't offend our neighbors.
I just stopped and gave him a hug. I said, "Bro, God bless you, man. Thank you. I'm so glad I gathered with you today to be reminded that I'm yours." I saw folks getting up on the elevator to go set up kids' rooms. I saw someone walking over to feed the people who had been here since zero dark thirty this morning to prep for this and to make sure everything is set up and cameras are ready to go, and other folks brought in food.
I just go, "Thank you." Thank you for letting God reign in you this morning. Thank you for those of you who thought about somebody else already today and didn't just walk in here and get judgmental about, "Why is it like this here?" It's like this here if it's not right here because we are not here the way God wants us to be. That's why.
I have a larger question for you. How'd your kids feel this morning in your kingdom? Yelled at or kissed softly and loved? Are you lonely? Do you live by yourself? Are you single? I have a question for you. Did you think about somebody else, you who have eternal relationship with the living God, and thought, "How can I, instead of just get infatuated with my condition, take what God has done in my life and care for other people today? How could I be the hands and feet of Christ to them and speak comfort to them?"
See, that's the question, church. You can never go to church. You are the church. We are the church. Quit being judgmental. Quit church shopping and be the church. That's our message this morning. What in the world are we thinking? Do you know why our government is screwed up? Do you know why men who want to see children plundered in the womb are elected?
Because the church has lost its voice. We stopped thinking. We've had convictions of convenience. Do you know why kids in the city are fatherless? Because we don't mind if they're fatherless. Do you know why kids in our house aren't discipled? Because we don't think it's our job to disciple them. It is screwing this world up that God reigns over and in.
And we've come to encourage you this morning. To remind you that you can do something about it right here. This is it! You are the hope of the world! Not this stage, not this pastor, not our staff. You! You are the hope of the world. Man, we're going to get 5,000 hopes of the world in here this morning. Probably about, I don't know, maybe 2,000 of them don't know him. Maybe 2,000 of them are indifferent in their knowing.
So there are 1,000 of you here this morning who are really ready to go, "Reign in me." Maybe that 2,000 who already know will be stirred to go, "Reign in me!" Maybe the 2,000 who don't know him yet will call out, "God, I need that grace and mercy. I need to know that there is hope for my life that I can be a vessel for your Spirit to be hope in other people's lives."
Would that not be a good thing? Do you think God could do something with 5,000 people fully surrendered to him? I do. I'm going to share with you this morning some of what he has already done with those of us who, by his grace, are increasingly letting him reign through us and saying, "I'm yours, Lord." That's going to encourage you.
I'm going to give you a chance right now just to encourage somebody next to you, just very humbly, and say, "Hey, here's my name, man. I don't know if you've ever been to Watermark or not before. If you have, if you've ever connected, but how can I be God to you right now? How can I be Christ to you? How can I love you with the tenderness of Jesus?"
I just want you to know, man, there's a great story, I hope you read it, about some people who are trying to be what Christ wants us to be in relationship to each other in your Watermark News. They want to finish strong. There's a little perforated section that you can fill out and you can just say, "Here I am. Would somebody please know that I'm here?" This is your letter. This is your BBC to us saying, "I am dying in this city, church. Will you love me? Can I ask you questions about this God who reigns who I don't see?" This is how you let us know. Cry. Tell us your stomach is hungry, and we will respond.
Did I tell you guys? I never wanted to be a pastor of a church. I wanted to, though, always be a follower of Jesus Christ. I really did. I wanted to get around some other friends who didn't just want to go someplace on Sunday but who wanted to make a difference, who wanted to experience, first of all, the healing and hope of Christ. But I said, "Man, let's get after it. Let's see if God is still just shaking the world today.
Let's see if there is something he can do with me that will make me more tender, more loving, a better dad, a better husband, a better citizen of the United States of America because I'm a citizen of the kingdom. Let's see if we can then get together as a group of friends and reach people who are lost and serve people who are hurting." Man, it's a slow thaw in the coldness of who I am, but it's happening, and I want to tell you something. I am really, really grateful for those of you guys who are following with me.
What does the Bible call that following, by the way? Sanctification. That's what we're in the middle of, man, but we have to heat it up. This world still thinks we're just a church who worships in a cool building and is building a bigger cool building. Let's shock them. Let's show them that isn't who we are. I'm going to tell you what we have been. If you have been giving generously here… And I want to tell you something. Not all of us have.
I don't know what most of you are doing, but I've never looked at that. I just get told. A lot of folks here, their hearts are not so engaged with what God is doing here that their treasure is here also. You just need to know that. That limits what we can do together. So think about it. But those of you who invested here, I want to let you know you've not just invested here. You've invested around the world.
Beau has been a friend who has really been one of you who has stepped up and provided leadership for us as we have sought to try and do some things around the world. We're just going to highlight and focus specifically what we've been doing in what is the most war-torn, pestilence-ridden, and rape-ridden part of the world. So Beau, walk them through very quickly where they've been actively at work already if they're a part of this body.
Beau: Sure. About two years ago really God started giving us the privilege of going into Goma, Congo, in October of 2006. Since then, we've sent 21 of our members to Goma, Congo, to teach a biblical foundation of leadership and conflict resolution. We've taught about 430 people through six conferences including government officials, military police, lawyers, teachers, pastors.
We've given everyone we've met with… The first thing we do is give them a Bible. We give them a book called Healing the Wounds of Trauma that deals with conflict resolution, why there is evil, why there is suffering, etcetera, that our friends at Wycliffe put together. We've given out in total about 550 Bibles and about 550 trauma healing books.
There's an orphanage there that at the beginning of this year we provided funds to be able to feed all the orphans for 12 months there. There was a little bit of a skirmish in December of last year as well. We provided some funds to be able to care for that. A friend there, who is a translator, started going blind, and we were able to fly her to Nairobi where they have better health care and have surgery so she could see today.
We've gone in and fed the prisoners. We've provided Bibles to the prisoners. We've met with rape victims and provided some resources to help them as they struggle with that. We're working with Wycliffe on trying to put together a trauma healing book for children. They've done one test conference to develop those materials. They've invested about $275,000 in Goma over the last 24 months.
Todd: All right. So that's what you've been up to. And I want you to understand. Our strategy has been to minister to leaders. I'm going to tell you why this makes some sense. We invest in leaders because leaders are what make a difference. While we're doing some relief work, and you just go, "Did they just say 550 people? Are you kidding me? Is that all?" I think he might've said 450 people is what's been in our conferences specifically in Goma, while there have been many others.
Let me tell you. When I was in Kenya in February of this year after the crisis with the elections, one of the things that happened there was Kenya, which was one of the most stable countries in Africa, it just blew up. Some of the same murder and genocidal behavior that was happening in other African countries happened in Kenya. It shocked people.
As I mentioned to you before, when we were in this town Kakamega that we have not been in before to teach on leadership, conflict resolution, healing, and just leading with the love and boldness of Jesus Christ, there was all kinds of horror that happened. The church absolutely left. It ran.
When we were meeting with them, they said, "Okay, look. We left because we were scared." So the actual Kenyan who was with us who was our on-the-ground man who we worked with to put together conference said, "Okay fine. So you ran and left, but now that things have stabilized, Todd and I and others, we just walked down to the IDP camp, the Internally Displaced People camp, where villages have been destroyed.
We just went through there. Where were the pastors in this community now? Why weren't you there to greet us and walk us around and introduce us to the people? The Red Cross is feeding the people in Kakamega. The Red Cross is not the church. The church is the church. This is a black mark on the face of the church."
I was like, "Go, man! That's good stuff. Let him have it." In contrast to that, what's going on now in Goma. Some of the pastors who we have been ministering to and developing and working with and lawyers… We got an email this week from Sabra, one of the lawyers there. Tell them what he said. We are ready to do…what?
Rick: Sabra's emails… This was the same thing that he told us when we were there before in October, that he was prepared to be a martyr. This is a 27-year-old lawyer, and the leaders we are dealing with are all guys who are 27, 28, 29 years old, because the guys who are my age in their mid-40s who would be leaders, those guys have either left or they've been wiped out in genocides that have happened. So here's a 27-year-old kid, to me, saying, "We are prepared to be martyrs." This is in the midst of a war that broke out four days… The next phase of this war broke out four days after we left.
Todd: We asked them when we were then… Van Beckwith and I met with those lawyers. Van is a lawyer here with Baker Botts in town. Van and I met with some lawyers and others. Van talked to them, and I had a short chance to challenge them. I asked them. I said, "Guys, I'm asking you to die for Christ. You say you know Jesus and you're men of justice in this community? I'm asking you to be prepared to do that."
And as we've gone back to train them and had trips over there and develop them, we're getting emails now where there is injustice happening in ways that if you stand up for a right, it may cost you your life. They're just saying, "We're ready. We're ready." We're getting emails from Musa. I want to let you read an email from a pastor in the Kakamega of Congo.
By the way, Kakamega is paradise compared to Congo. Mary has been all over Africa with us. Mary is also a lawyer here. Mary, you've been to Burundi. You've been to Uganda, northern Uganda. You've been to Kenya with me. You've been to the Congo. Tell them what you said this week about Congo, of all the places in Africa.
Mary: Congo on its best day is worse than anything else I've experienced anywhere on its worst day.
Todd: It's hard to imagine, okay? I'll just walk you through. This is just a few shots. Just so in case you ever run for vice president, you know Africa is a continent, not a country. I want to… Which, by the way, all people have said that was an errant news report, all people have said. There is the continent of Africa.
If you look dead in the middle, right there is the DRC. It's 1,000 miles long. It is the size of western Europe. It's a significant land space in the midst of that continent. Then you'll see here that on the eastern side by the Rwandan border is Goma, and there on the west side is Kinshasa, which is a capital.
That land in the middle is one of the most mineral-rich lands in all of Africa. That's one of the most resourced countries in the world. Yet it's been war-torn, and there's been more death and destruction there in the last 40 years, actually in the last even 12, than there's been anywhere else since World War II. Yet the world doesn't know about it.
We just felt like, "Look, we're going to talk about the dignity of man this morning. Followers of Jesus ought to know about the place where human rights are being more destroyed than any place else on the earth. We want you to know that. We'll show you just some pictures just to show you on the ground over there, by you I mean the body, as we scroll through.
That's Lake Kivu on the southern side right there of Goma. It's beautiful. This is that volcano that you saw on that earlier BBC shot that we sat at the foot of. This is one of the healthier places in Goma, just a basic city shot. This is where the large part of the city lives. This is not refugees. This is just normal, everyday living.
Our friend Chip teaching one of the conferences there on conflict. This is some of the leaders with the Bibles we hand out to these men. You have to understand. I'll let Cindy comment in just a second about the value of a Bible there and the judgment that is on us. Why don't you talk about that? About how they receive a Bible over there?
Cindy: Well, we got a chance to visit a sexual violence treatment center for women, which was actually just a tiny little house. We had several gifts that we wanted to give them. The last thing that we did was Rik opened up an ordinary cardboard box of Swahili-translated Bibles. These women leapt for joy.
They squealed with delight. They were so exultant. It was almost impossible to get them to calm down. Of course it just caused the rest of us to weep that they could get so much hope and so much encouragement out of knowing that they were going to have a Bible of their own in their own language.
Todd: Jeff, tell the story about… Jeff is a lawyer here in town, and actually we just begged him to leave his law firm and lead us in our external focus as a body and have coordinated efforts. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of you already individually involved throughout this city and the world, but we said "Let's just coalesce and do some things together." Jeff is going to lead us in that specific role. Jeff, talk about what that one guy, when he got that study Bible said. You wouldn't believe. Go ahead.
Jeff: Yeah, these guys. I mean, they're not just about humanitarian and putting band-aids in relief. They want to transform their community in Goma. So we just go to equip and encourage them and let them know they're not forgotten in that isolated part of Congo. But this… We looked for opportunities to kind of carve off time with the leaders and the lawyers. One lawyer, in particular, could read English and could speak it well and asked us for a copy of one of our Bibles.
We happened to have one of the Quest Study Bibles. I gave that to this gentleman, Jean Marie. As he broke down, he said, "You do not know what I can do with this Bible." So he said, "I'm going to be leading groups. I'm going to be traveling." Sabra is over in Kigali trying to rally leaders. He is in Burundi trying to rally leaders, and he said he would be in contact with us. He wanted us to personally thank the body for just providing those resources to those guys.
Todd: He said, "With this truth, I can start to center our world again." They understand the consequences of a perverted worldview. You saw pictures of Rick and Jeff there in lawyer garb. That was the federal courthouse in Goma. There are three judges. That was as they got ready to go in and be a part of that. Those are some young attorneys we worked with. That is the central courthouse in Goma. That is where 75 percent of the world's rapes are happening. That is the courthouse. So basically, there are two white robes and two white little cords that go over that robe. Jeff, jump in there.
Jeff: Yeah, and so one of the things we're able to do as lawyers with lawyers is get into courthouses and get to meet these judges and local leaders of the bar. Even a high court justice came to one of our conferences. But the lawyers had a lot of fun dressing us up in these advocate robes and taking us down to the courthouse. So we got to go in and do that.
As we were walking and talking with one of the lawyers, he explained to me. We had been talking about the problems there in the Congo and justice issues. He said, "You know, these two cords that go over the shoulder…" I don't know if you can see them in those pictures. They have them flipped over to the back. But over the shoulder are two cords. He said, "These two ends stand for justice and peace." He kind of smiled at me and just let that soak in. These guys understand that the basis for long-term peace in the Congo is bringing and restoring justice.
Todd: What we want to do this morning is we're talking about… Remember I mentioned a number of weeks ago as we talked about a biblical worldview there are three divine institutions: the family, the purpose of the family is to…what? Bless me. Tell me somebody learned something. To educate.
So that's part of what we're doing today. We're giving you a means through which you can educate your children. Go to Google Earth. Click on Congo, and then zero in on Congo and go to the right side. Click on Goma, you'll see a little flame there, which means it's a hot spot. Read what's going on. Educate your children. We're going to give you some very practical things you can do with your family.
It's the job of government to prosecute evil, not to say, "We're pro-choice on evil for you, even though I wouldn't do it myself." But to prosecute evil. It's our job to protect against terror. Government is not only not protecting against terror over there, the militia, the rebels, the police are committing these atrocities. There is no peace in Goma.
Can you imagine being unarmed and having the police officer decide to knock on your house because he hadn't gotten paid in a while and say, "You know what? Not only do I want what's in your house, I want that woman who is in your bed," and there's nothing you can do about it. And being emasculated like that and watching your wife being horrified and traumatized like that in ways that are unspeakable.
It's happening every day, and it's what happens when people compromise and compromise and compromise and compromise. Next thing you know, that which is called good is evil and that which is called evil is good. Read Isaiah 5. This is why we're teaching on this. You must speak up. Not just about Goma, but what is going on here, because we are sliding in that direction. You have to show people the logical outcome of our progression.
Folks, one of the things I was going to say is the reason we focus on leaders… We got another email this week. Beau emailed our friend Musa, who was one of our key guys on the ground. He had left the organization we were working with to go, about two years ago, back into a local church that we had been at and taught at and preached at.
We just shot Musa an email. I'll let you read Musa's response. This is not easy reading. This is real-time, on-the-ground updates. We got this yesterday at eight in the morning here, which means it was late in the afternoon in Goma. So read along, Beau. This is our email we got yesterday. I want you to see the difference between here and Kakamega.
Beau:"Hi, dear brothers. It is good to hear from you. I was wondering whether you still remember me. I have been kept in the grace of our mighty God. All this time I have been in Goma during these sad events. The Lord has been our shield for my family and I. We did not move from Goma.
As you know, I am now working with my church, but I have been sharing ideas with Theophilus [who is our friend at ALARM] who also remained in Goma during this time. We are trying to serve the Lord as he enables us to do. From the first day of the sad situation, we mobilized local churches in Goma to collect some food and clothes to assist the IDPs in the town of Goma.
My church is also hosting IDPs, some in the schools, and others in church buildings. But for Christian hospitality's sake, many Christian families are hosting others while our dependents are increasing in numbers from the troubled areas. We are distributing what we get to those in these situations. Our church is also using the medical facilities to treat them when they fall sick.
In fact, there are many who are sick in hospitals and health centers. The greatest need is food, clothes, medicines, blankets, and sheets. Some are really traumatized because some saw their sisters, mothers, and wives raped. Some others saw their brothers slaughtered. In fact, more than 153 young people are reported to have been beheaded in Kiwanja by the rebels in the town of Kiwanja, 78 kilometers [or about 40 miles] from Goma northwards.
Todd: That was just this week. That's part of the 5.5 million that happened this week.
Beau:"They need emotional healing. We are trying to do what we can. The greatest opportunities are the people in our churches, in our homes, in our church buildings need help and we could use these opportunities to make Jesus known and present in the midst of all this uncertainty.
We can distribute food, clothes, blankets, treat them, and do emotional therapy. Thank you for writing, and may God bless you. At a time like this, we need your prayers that the Lord will be noticed in this situation, that peace will come, and that justice will prevail in Congo and in the international community. We also need encouraging messages from brothers. Yours in love, Musa."
Todd: All right, gang. I want to tell you, what we did is we have sent money to Musa's churches and others this last week in the form of aid, because we know that for them to get food right now and to do things like that, it's very difficult. When we were there, I say we. I wasn't in this one. This was a group of guys who on their own coalesced this trip and went over there. There was also some aid work done where you went to a prison, right?
Rick: Yeah, we've been there. Jeff and I have been there twice. Last year, because of the relationships with the lawyers that we had, we had an opportunity to get inside the prison. You see the picture of it there, which as a lawyer… I'm a criminal defense lawyer. I've had an opportunity to be in some pretty horrible places in Texas and Louisiana. I tell people, "When we go inside that prison, think seventeenth-century Bastille."
Todd: By the way, what she's doing there is what?
Rick: She is handing food to the prisoners inside, because they don't get fed unless someone brings in food from the outside. The only way that lady got to that little window there was that she handed money to a guard, who is standing with a really big gun saying, "Pay me off, and then you can take food to your friend."
So we brought a truckload of food, about $3,000 of food, and we have to bring wood and cooking oil in order for them to get fed. We bring enough food for them to be fed for a week. When we got there this time, this past trip, the door… There are two doors. The exterior door was gone, and the warden comes out and says, "Hey, you can't go in. There's going to be a riot when they see the food. We have to bring another door." So we wait for an hour for a door to be delivered so that they can then open the interior door and the exterior door and the food can be delivered inside. It's just, you know…
Todd: These guys are in prison but, meanwhile, you have to understand. I mean, I don't know how you get in prison in Goma considering…
Rick: You don't get out, though. There's no due process in courts.
Todd: …when there's police and when there's military that are doing most of the atrocities. It's just… It is what happens when you lose your moorings. So what I want to do. We have to be very careful of our time. When we were there in 2006, Musa, when he was with ALARM, actually gave us this.
You can put the camera on it. It'll reflect. They made this out of goat hair for us. It's just, "Watermark," "ALARM," and "Congo." It just shows that, "We see what you all are doing for us. You're training us and equipping us so that as things even get worse, we'll continue to steward our lives the way Jesus would have us steward our lives."
Let me just tell you something. There's not a black mark on the church going on in Goma because we have been a part of what the Spirit of God is doing in the lives of pastors there. Jesus is made even more famous in the midst of the pain. All right, well, bless you guys.
I'm going to bring up some friends I met Friday. Come on up here, all of you. These are friends from the Congo. One of the things we did, and we're going to challenge you to do in a minute, is to think through ways that you can be actively involved in doing things. I contacted a friend in the media, and I just said, "Hey, you guys. You need to do a better job of getting this story out there. It's the largest human-rights issue in the world today. It is the most war-torn region."
You go to the Holocaust museum up in Washington, DC. It says, "Never again." The world repented at Rwanda when 800,000 men and women were killed inside six weeks, almost a million over a 100-day period. The world repented. President Clinton apologized. Kofi Annan said the UN didn't do its job.
There were enough peacekeeping forces there with the UN to stop the atrocity that happened then. There are right now more UN soldiers in Goma than any place in the world. It still… You want to get me mad, ask me about the UN, but that's another conversation. What I want to tell you is that the world said, "It's never going to happen again."
Not only has it happened again, it's happened 5X, and it's happening now. If you wait for the movie "Hotel Goma" to come out to know what's going on, shame on you and shame on me. That's why we thought, "Hey, we can't talk about the dignity of man and not do this." This, folks, is what is dying. These incredibly beautiful, well-spoken, intelligent people. This is what's dying. I don't know.
Yolan, why don't you and Aaron just today, just in the morning here… Yolan's brother is still in Goma, yes? What we did is we met, because we were talking with… Channel 11 is going to do a very short story tonight, a minute and a half, on why we as a church are doing this this morning. Yolan will be a piece of that, as all these friends will.
Yolan's dad is a pastor in Arlington. We are very humbled. Thank you for being here today. You left your people to come be with us this morning. Yolan, just briefly, what would you say to us, that this is your home?
Yolan: I would definitely say, well first, thank you very much for opening your hearts to the Congo. Like you said earlier, it's not just about the Congo and America. It's about the people of God. We are really humbled to be here and represent our Congolese people. I would just want to say, Jesus gave his life for us. Who are we? This could happen anywhere in the world.
It could happen anywhere in the world, but unfortunately it is there right now. I feel honored and privileged to not be there right now and going through that, but I know it's because God has taken me aside to be able to bring help for these people. They don't have a voice. I would like to encourage you to be that person for the powerless. They're not able to speak for themselves. They're not able to fight for themselves. God has given you the ability to be able to do that for them. So…
Todd: That's good. Pastor, would you read Proverbs 24:11 and 12. I'm going to put it right here for you and just read this to our body. This is why we're educating our family today. If you hand him the mic. Why don't you just read that for us, could you? It's behind you if you want, or right in front of you.
Pastor (Yolan's father): _ "Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back. If you say, 'See, we did not know this,' does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?" _
Todd: Part of the reason we're doing that this morning, and if you asked me to read something in French… I'm sorry how inconsiderate that was. But it's to educate you to what is going on around the world. So we can't just say, "I don't know about that. I don't know what's going on." We know.
Here's even more tragedy. Do you know the pain in the house across the street? Do you know the loneliness in your office? Do you know those who are being taken away to death because their worldview is misinformed, who are staggering to slaughter every night on Lower Greenville? Do you know them?
If you just distance your life and don't make room for them in your heart, you don't compel them to come and hear about Jesus, does he not consider who weighs the hearts, O church? I think he does. There's a God in the city, and he dwells in you. Quickly, I will ask Marco. Can you just literally, in a minute or so, just explain some of what is happening in Goma and just the… What do you want them to know about the conflict, Marco?
Marco: Okay, what I want them to know is that these are humans. Yesterday I was watching on the Doctors Without Borders website a 10-minute clip about a man (and his wife) who… His name is Petrov and his wife Bernadetta. The man is poor. Even in Congolese standards, he is poor. But he said something that really touched me. I wrote it down, and I'm going to share it with you. Bear with me.
He said, "This man, for the past 7 years, has sheltered people who were running away from the rebels. He said, 'When someone comes to you, you can't turn them away. You take him into your heart and into your home and you live with them. They are humans. I'm human. Maybe tomorrow, I will be the one running.'"
So that really touched me. What I want to tell you is a message of blessing. We've been blessed to be here, the greatest country in the world, and our message is, "Please, help us help them." This man lives in a mud hut with hay as a roof. He is able to help for the last seven years. People share the little food he has. Please, help us.
Todd: Aaron, I want you to share. Thank you so much, Marco. This is why we're doing what we're doing. If you've never been compelled to give to Watermark, I just want you to know something. This is what we're doing. I just want you to know that we cannot pretend like this is just about a bunch of music on Sunday morning. I've never wanted to. If any of you have thought that, will you forgive me? Aaron, you shared something really great, buddy, yesterday to me, when you talked about how you've been here in this great country and what happened to you.
Aaron: I got here 9 years ago and I went to school. I went to UNT. Mean Green. In 2006, I graduated and then I started working for Dr Pepper. I believe that I've somehow furthered my life and somehow prosperous. I got married to this beautiful young lady here. I got comfortable with what I have and what I've become.
About a year ago, kind of wake up call. A bell rang in my head and said, "Wait a minute. What are you doing here? You have gotten so comfortable that you have forgotten about those who don't have what you have. Those who don't eat three times a day. Those who are looking for a place to sleep at night."
It took me a while to realize, and I was guilty for a little bit of time. I said, "Wow, man, am I a changed man? Am I still a Christian for not caring for the poor?" So that we decided to make people aware of the Congo. Because we can throw as much money as we want to, but unless this chaos is stopped, and the way of stopping the chaos is by stopping the war, nothing is really going to be done in a way that's going to lead the Congo into prosperous time.
So we decided to go across colleges, churches, and talk to people and make them aware of what's happening in the Congo. I want you to take action to let yourself be heard. Pastor, one more minute. I'm looking at the time here.
Todd: I got you, bro. I got you.
Aaron: Can we all say, "Amen?" Glory to God. You know, there's one thing that I learned about this election is the power of voice. I was watching the President Elect Barack Obama standing next to Warren Buffet during all this economic crisis. I was telling myself, "This man, Warren Buffet, has a direct voice or access to the president because of, somehow, his wealth."
Let's be honest, if he wasn't Warren Buffet, he wouldn't be standing next to Barack Obama. Today in the world, the United States is the richest country in the world. You are the Warren Buffet of the world. Your voice has more impact than anybody else's in the world. So if you take action, if you let your voice be heard, you can make a change.
Todd: Amen. All right, well, we're going to talk about this. Let me tell you what we've done. We've allocated $100,000 this week that wasn't in the budget. We're not asking you this week if you'll be generous and "stuff the truck." We're telling you we've done it. We've taken money we maybe had for other things. We're saying, "We're going to do this right now."
Along with continuing to develop leaders and pushing a truth and giving a Christian worldview education to men over there who are in positions of significant leadership, we've partnered with World Vision specifically as well as giving thousands of dollars more to individuals who we know there who are on the ground taking people into their houses.
We've done that with your resources. We want you to know that. You're giving here; you're giving to the world. Specifically, there are about 5,500 families that we think are at Watermark on a regular weekend. There are more that are here over the course of a month, but on any weekend, we thought, "Okay, what we want to do is at least family for family match what's going on right now in Goma with our friends at World Vision.
What do they need? What do they need now? We're not just going to throw money at it and then more money a year later, but what do we need now while we continue to further the fame of Christ?" So my friend Cassie from World Vision is going to tell you what we did this week.
Cassie: We've been talking with our 27 staff members on the ground in Goma saying, "We have a church that's stepping up to the plate." And they said, "Tell them we thank God for them. That the people here in Goma and in the north in the area thank God for them, because the aid is not coming."
One of their immediate needs that they expressed is for what we call Family Survival Kits. As I show you these things, though, I want you to think about doing something glorious for God as we talked about. So think about more than soap or these things I'm going to show you. I'm going to tell you how they represent Christ to people.
In a Family Survival Kit, it's constructed for a family of five. In it you get a collapsible water tank. The aid organizations will bring trucks in. People can go and get water and fill these. Two blankets, two sleeping mats, a five-gallon bucket, tableware for five people, which is a cup, a spoon, a bowl, and a plate.
Then cooking pots, two cooking pots, so people can cook the rice and the different things that they'll be receiving, hopefully, as the money comes in for the food. A tarp to create a shelter. You might've seen in photos some of the people making little huts out of sticks and mud. It's going to be the rainy season. They can put this over for just a little bit of dryness.
Very importantly, something as simple as a bar of soap. Hand washing in this kind of situation cuts the infection rate of children getting sick and dying by 50 percent. Something as simple as this. But even beyond the humanitarian impact of what your gift is going to do for these families, is that when you do this, you are the hands and feet of Christ.
You are enabling the World Vision staff to give these out, to minister to people. Tragedy is a terrible thing, but it's also an opportunity for the church to show up and be the church. World Vision is not God's plan for the earth. As we all talk and agree, it's the church. If we can be a part of facilitating that and building that local church, these kids will also go to the churches that are housing people. That's what we are about, and we want you to put us out of business. That it is the church that will be doing this.
Todd: Well, we do with World Vision is we work through, very specifically, certain communities of faith. That's what World Vision works with. That's why we partner with them. Many of whom we're building relationships with and have as we've been there. So Cassie, we want to share with you what specifically is being done, because people have been driven from their homes, already in impoverished state, with nothing.
Now they have something because of you in the name of Jesus Christ. But I want you to realize that poverty looks different in America than it looks in Rwanda and like it looks like in Goma. This is not just about doing something over there. We are. You have been injected into a poverty-stricken culture. You see it. Turn on your TV. You see it.
God wants you to not forget what you see. If you know the words of life, if you've been forgiven, if you're walking in righteousness in a way that brings cohesion to your family and blessing to your children, don't forget those who don't know that yet. Be evangelists for Christ. Invite them to come and see. Experience the community of Christ in love, healing, and forgiveness that our resources are then going to be deployed all across the world together. Watch this video. I'm going to give you a very specific action plan when it's over. Here we go.
Gang, you want to know what the cause of the devastation in Rwanda was in 1993 and '94? You want to know what the devastation in Congo is? You know what the cause of it is? Sin. It's a lack of God's Word manifesting itself in its people. So people use power to exploit, they use strength to rape, and this world is dying. You've seen what you've seen, and you cannot ignore it.
I'm talking about sin. If you've ever had your sin graciously dealt with, we invite you to come. My friends here, they love Christ. They'll be here with me. Come talk to us about what Christ can do when he invades a heart, when he invades a land. Then fight for your land. Fight for a Christian worldview to again have its voice in this country.
Fight for those who cannot speak for themselves in the womb and those who cannot care for themselves outside. Speak the truth in love. Walk with Christ. Do you remember what sin did to your life and the war-torn life you had? If you've been healed, speak up. Worship him. Now three action points for today.
First, we gave you this inside your little Watermark News. It's a call to action. These guys are the ones who said it. "Hey gang, look. Don't just feed us." You guys have a chance. Look, this is a war the United States can get involved in, and I have to tell you, in three months, we can win this war. We can. We can stop it. As I told you, Clinton said, "If I had 5,000 men, I could've saved 500,000 lives."
We're talking about saying, "Enough is enough." If you don't have the will as a country to execute justice against terror, then we're going to help you do it. Speak up. This is what the people write. This is what they tell them. Guys, isn't that what you told me? "Speak up. Get your men in positions of influence."
We're using our relationship with World Vision… Because they're large? Yes. Because they're the largest distributor of food in crisis situations. We are not just feeding them. We are talking to the highest levels of government both in Kinshasa and in Kigali and saying, "You guys have to get this straightened out." We're using the influence that we have in the relationship with them to speak to the highest levels of government.
Secondly, continue to give generously here. We are being generous, and I think we are right on the tip of the spear. If you've missed out on the blessing of being a part of what we've done, it's not too late to join us. We've done it here, and we're going to do more. This is just the first piece. This is one-eighth of what World Vision's 90-day plan has been to help Goma. We've just taken off, our church, an eighth of it, and we want to do more. We're going to continue to work with our partners on the ground.
Then lastly, help your kids understand the world that we live in. I'll give you a very little simple thing. A number of weeks ago, my family decided to do this. There are many other families at Watermark who have already done it, so don't make this about the Wagner family. We got the idea from others here.
But we said, "Hey, as we get ready for Thanksgiving week, we have to remind our kids that there are people who don't get three meals a day." Remember those days? You don't know where it's coming from, but for this entire week, starting last Wednesday up until Thanksgiving, we've been eating oatmeal in the morning and beans and rice. That's it.
I'm not leaving my kids in a sense of misery of, "You can't eat beans and rice. I'm not sure if you're going to get it this day." You can have as much beans and rice as you want, but that's it. That's what some people around the world, that's all they ever get. So your taste buds won't come alive and your stomach is not going to get maybe what it wants, but it's going to get enough to be full and nourished.
We're going to identify this whole week. Milk, water, beans and rice, and oatmeal in the morning. I want you to realize as kids that that's how they live all the time. Except they miss meals. So we're going to have a different perspective this Thanksgiving." We're using the resources we're saving for things like this and other things that God stirs our family's heart with. So be creative in the way you empathize with others. Be the church. Don't go to church. You are the church. Quit being critical of churches. Be the church.
If you're not a part of the church, we want nothing more than for God to come into the war-torn heart that you have and receive the grace of Jesus Christ. Will you come and let us know how we can minister to you? Will you fill out that little perforated section and say, "I want to jump in?" Will you give generously with us? Will you take God to this city and the world?
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
How do you look at the world? What influences your perspective on the challenges and people you interact with every day? In this 10-part series, Todd Wagner explains why your worldview ? the lens you look at the world through ? matters. You?ll discover what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how our failure to look at the world through God?s "lens" impacts our lives, culture and our world.