Lesotho has the third highest rate of AIDS/HIV in the world with nearly a fourth of their population infected. Kevin, a pilot and plane mechanic, oversees the entire MAF program in Lethoso (with four aircraft), flying doctors and patients out of dirt airstrips to clinics and hospitals, working with at least 35 partner agencies. In the last twelve months they made nearly 3000 flights, delivering over 215,000 pounds of food, medicine, and other cargo.
As I listened to Kevin share about what MAF does in Lesotho, I recalled the aggravating words of a TV talk-show panelist. When someone mentioned the threat of militant Muslims, she could not help but respond by saying, "radical Christianity is just as threatening." It was the first time I had ever sent a letter to a TV network to complain about their TV hosts.
"Radical Christianity is just as threatening."
When those words awkwardly tumbled from her mouth, I tried to think of the "radical" Christians I knew, and I couldn’t think of any that threatened the welfare of the world. I did, however, quickly come up with a list of "radical" Christians that were making a positive difference.
Here are just a few examples:
- Clean water for Africa. Some "radical" Christian college students began digging water wells in Africa, providing clean water to communities who would otherwise be devastated by disease and dehydration. They also train rural Africans how to dig and construct more wells. Their efforts have received praise and support from internationally known public figures. More importantly, since 2006 they have helped over 700 communities to have access to clean water. That is the work of "radical Christianity."
- Nigerian Christian Hospital began in 1965 with one missionary doctor, and now treats over 20,000 patients each year. They are part of a wider effort (International Health Care Foundation) that serves at least seven different points in Africa and Haiti with medical care, education, career training, and orphaned children.
- Samaritan’s Purse is one of the more well-known Christian charities around the world, providing disaster relief, emergency food, medical care throughout the world and in the U.S. They are also known for coordinating "Operation Christmas Child," sending shoeboxes filled with toys, candy, toothbrushes, and school supplies to children the world over.
- In our little city, churches and organizations come together to support the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission (KFGM), which feeds, houses, and counsels homeless men, women, and children everyday of the year. They provide work opportunities, substance abuse recovery, life training, and countless other services to people who have fallen between the cracks of our welfare system. This is one of hundreds of such missions around the nation.
- "Night Strike" is a ministry that began in Portland, Oregon in 2003 when several Christians would take food and washing supplies to the homeless under the Burnside Bridge. One of the trademarks of the ministry was washing feet. Several days wearing the same unwashed socks made for painful foot problems. The ministry grew into a broader work called Bridgetown Inc. Each week volunteers serve a hot meal to around 300 people, bringing blankets, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, and cleaning supplies to those who live on the streets of Portland, and sitting down with them, face to face, just being friends. That is "radical Christianity" at work.
I'm grateful I live in a world where people from many faiths and backgrounds are helping others, and making powerful differences where it is needed most. You don't have to be "religious" to help. But in a culture where Christians are becoming more maligned and mocked and misrepresented, many can easily (conveniently?) forget what Christians have been doing all along.
This is "radical Christianity," and it rarely makes the evening news. But it’s out there nonetheless, "threatening" the world with hope.