Bridge of Hope

Earlier today I got several emails from Dennis Wadley, a Covenant minister who runs an AIDS outreach program called Bridges of Hope in the township of Phillipi, just outside of Capetown.

Dennis and his wife, Susan, moved their last year, leaving behind a successful ministry at a 700 member church in California. They do holistic community development--helping local residents to solve their problems, and providing a bridge between that township and people with resources in the US and in wealthier parts of South Africa. (A feature story on the Wadleys can be found here).

There's a woman in their community named Anges, who is raising 6 AIDS orphans, and the Wadleys help rally support to built a new home for her and her family. One picture he sent showed a little boy, dancing in the street on move-in day, his face wrapped in joy, smiling that little boy smile. This is a community devasted by unemployment, crime, and AIDS. A second picture showed a young man named Monde--taken just before his death. Some volunteers from Bridges of Hope had come to see Monde, brought him a gift of a new t-shirt, and gave him a bath. Simple things that made his life more bearable.

Stories like this, of the profound power of human connection, and of people who refuse to give up hope in desperate circumstances are why I started writing about religion in the first place. So much of our time is caught up in stories about controversies--stem cells, gay marriage, abortion, Janet Jackson's breast, TBN sex scandals--that we lose sight of the profound human suffering around us. I mean, the Deal Hudson affair (the Crisis publisher and Bush advisor who resigned after past sexual misconduct was revealed) is riveting stuff, but it doesn't really matter, does it? Not when the world's going up in flames in places like Darfur , Haiti, and Congo.

The image of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic comes to mind.

As does this quote from the forward of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death:

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.



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