More Alike than Different…

You’re probably well aware that a royal child was welcomed not only by his family but what felt like the entire world last week.  Did you know, however, that another approximately 370,000 babies were born on July 22 as well?

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a region of the world with the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hempisphere.  I walked through a hospital’s pediatric unit, prayed with mothers who had birthed tiny premature lives as well as those with older children in need of surgery.  I fought back tears as I held the tiny hands of small lives struggling in the malnutrition ward, their bodies and developmental stages giving them the look of my niece at 6 months. Their actual age–three years old.

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I piled into a bus with 22 children with special needs and their mothers and road a few hours away on a field trip to the zoo.  On the surface our experience could not have been more different.  I’ve led many field trips and have been to the zoo too many times to count.  My sense of wonder and awe often wanes on such trips in the U.S.  Their reactions were genuine and demonstrative of the fact that for many this was their first trip to the city and that for all, this was their first opportunity to view animals like this; to see that elephants were real, not just something made up inside of a book.

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I walked up a mountain and into a home of two parents and eight children.  A quick scan of its dirt floor and fire pit for cooking stood in stark contrast to my own home.  Yet the eyes and breaking heart of the mother who had just lost her ninth child not even a week before was indicative of one sweet lesson the Lord graciously taught me again and again during my week in Guatemala.  As Maya Angelou once said, “We are more alike than we are different.”

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Day after day I was reminded of the many universal parts of the human experience.  I was reminded of what it means to be made in the image of God.  I was reminded that though our homes and our meals and our languages and our clothes and so many superficial external circumstances are different, so many more things are very much the same.  A father with a premature child in an incubator aches in Guatemala just as a father in my hometown surely would.  A mother with eight children who knows countless other mothers who have lost a baby doesn’t hurt or grieve any less than a friend of mine would here in the U.S.  A mother with a child who has Cerebral Palsy in Chichicastenago selflessly lays down her life to lift her teenage child out of a wheelchair to change yet another diaper just as a mother might here in the U.S.  She advocates, she cheerleads, she sacrifices, she loves selflessly in ways that know no cultural or lingustic bounds.  I was reminded of  Gospel love.  The kind of love that lays its life down for another.

Perhaps more than on a typical day, I was reminded of the post-Genesis 3 brokenness all of us face regardless of who we are or where we live.  But to an even greater extent, I was reminded of the post-Genesis 3 promise of a Savior who would come and rescue and make all things new.  I was reminded of the Gospel–the Gospel for all people, for all tongues, for all tribes, for all nations, for all times.

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At  work this summer, we’re reading several books that remind us of this truth with children.  Last Sunday, we took a closer look at One World, One Day.  We looked at photographs of children waking up, getting ready for school, eating meals with their family, and going to bed from all over the world.  We read and celebrated what Philippians 2:1-11.  In August, we’ll read A Cool Drink of Water by the same author.  We will look at photographs of people all over the world drinking water and learn that just as we all need water to live, we all need Jesus–the Living Water even more.

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Last summer, we emphasized similar themes by reading a book called Whoever You Are by Mem Fox together.  As I walked through dusty streets and read books to children in Guatemalan schools, Mem Fox’s words were brought back to mind again and again…

Little one, whoever you are,
wherever you are,
there are little ones just like you all over the world.

Their skin may be different from yours,
and their homes may be different from yours.
Their schools may be different from yours
and their lands may be different from yours.
Their lives may be different from yours,
and their words may be very different from yours.

But inside, their hearts are just like yours,
whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world.
Their smiles are like yours, and they laugh just like you.
Their hurts are like yours, and they cry like you, too,
whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world.

Little one, when you are older and when you are grown,
you may be different,
and they may be different, wherever you are, wherever they are, 
in this big, wide world.

But remember this:
Joys are the same, and love is the same.
Pain is the same, and blood is the same.
Smiles are the same, and hearts are just the same–
wherever they are, wherever you are, wherever we are,
all over the world.

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This entry was posted in Books, Culture, Memoir, Reflection, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to More Alike than Different…

  1. Courtney says:

    Mmm Such a timely reminder, friend. The gospel for all people. I need to remember that next week.

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