A Welcome Burden

From Guest Blogger Josh Austin, Pastor at Mineral Neighborhood Christian Center in Mineral, Washington.

Have you ever experienced a privilege that later becomes a burden?  You know, like the privilege of buying a new puppy but then having the burden of cleaning up the messes. You take the messes with the burden because the puppy is now part of your family, and you’ll do anything to maintain that privilege.  Let me tell you about a privilege in my life that has now turned into a very welcome burden that I don’t mind doing something about.

In May of 2017 I had the opportunity to join Go on the Mission for a trip to Senegal, West Africa.  I consider any kind of travel to be a privilege — to see new parts of the world, meet new people and experience a new culture.  What an honor!  However, I did not expect to come home with such a heavy burden for the people of Senegal.

The team at GO did an excellent job of preparing our travel team for the trip.  In addition to learning about the country, culture, and holistic way God is at work in Senegal they also shared statistics on poverty and the educational system. The training was very helpful but I will be the first to admit the statistics did very little in bringing me to a point of action, I suspect GO knows this.  In fact it would not be until I witnessed these statistics first hand that I felt this burden on my heart.  After all, you would have to be less than human to go unchanged and unburdened after looking into the eyes of a struggling child.

My heart became burdened seeing the toothy smile of a 2nd grade girl, dressed in rags, sitting at makeshift desks with 30 other students, in a small dark room made for less than ten.  My heart ached watching as she soaked up all the teacher had to say because she knows that without an education she has nothing.  I loved hearing the sound of laughter as 80 Senegalese children were released for recess to an area where there will be no monkey bars, no swings – nothing but an empty slab of concrete covered in a thick layer of red dust. I saw firsthand a country that offers little to no hope for their young people because the public education system is broken. Then I realized there can be hope for this child and others because of the meager $35.00 per month sent by someone willing to sacrifice the price of sponsorship.

To partner with an organization such as GO on the Mission, who is fighting against these statistics and providing hope of a future for an entire generation, ensures the children, who I had the privilege of spending a week with, will have a different and brighter future. That is a burden I will gladly bear.