The map of Africa kept falling off the wall. It was like it was trying to remind us of our focus – helping the people of Angola to rebuild, out of the ashes of war, a school in a historic Church Mission post called Dondi. We are to going to drum up a million dollars out of the pockets of Canadian men – and engage 100,000 men in a resurrection miracle. Each man will find ten men willing to find ten men who will spend ten minutes educating themselves about the project and slap down ten dollars as their drumbeat in the rhythm rolling across the country.
As we engaged in planning and strategizing how to make it all happen – it almost seemed easy – easy to imagine anyway. Sitting in the National offices of the United Church in Toronto – surrounded by staff, expertise, & a bureaucratic machine - drumming up resources across Canada – networks, money, communications & travel technologies – they are all there – we just had to find them like puzzle pieces and put them in place.
In Dondi Angola they are working mostly without money, technology or capacities to travel. The common denominator is people. People of faith willing to make sacrifices to set in motion a miracle.
Isn’t it a miracle to make something out of nothing? To create order out of chaos is to participate in the Maker’s work. To rebuild a school destroyed by 27 years of civil war is a resurrection miracle. The school will be the proof – the men who make it happen will be the body of Christ at work among us.
Of course we are competing with about a million other good and worthy causes for the time and money of good-willed and generous men.
Is there anything unique about this effort? The idea of a “men’s” project is pretty unique in this age of sexual politics. Initial reactions to our slogan “men to the power of ten” illicits wide-eyed reactions. To use men and power in a sentence is risky. We’ve been taught to treat male power like fire. Keep it contained or risk getting burnt.
(I wrote a couple of paragraphs here about male/female power but it all seemed pretty defensive/apologetic – so I put it in the pre-post-feminist file)
What we’re doing with this project – I think – it’s early days - is invite men to pick up a drum, throw a stick on the fire, and dance as the fire builds into a bonfire. This image puts a grin on my face. For me, it’s about having some fun. Our church can be way too earnest. I’m not much interested in sitting at a table with self-important people coming up with the answers to Africa’s struggles. From my experience this approach leaves little room for GOD to work and only encourages those so-inclined to play GOD.
If it smells like work, tastes like work, feels like work, then it probably is work. I spend way too much of my earnest effort at work making a living, walking a tightrope of bills and responsibilities and demands. Personally, I’m up for a challenge – but there’s got to be something in it that’s got a few laughs involved – something to stir my male soul and feed my male heart. Maybe it involves belching and farting – things that only seem to strike male funny bones as humourous.
Africa has much to teach us about working with GOD instead of playing GOD. It’s a country where foreign Kings and Queens have fought battles for resources using the population as pawns in their deadly serious games of chess. I know so little about it – it’s stupid for me to comment much. What I do know is that the victims there are the same as the victims here. We can patch them up but the healing must come from within. We can put tools in their hands but the vision must come from a sacred source. Together we can create a bubble of change but it won’t last long without significant political and economic change.
Do I want for them what we have here? Disposable incomes, Drugs for every dis-ease, Technologies to occupy our every hour? While we boast of healthcare and education and opportunity we are mostly blind about how the machines that drive “our” economy are fed by the sacrifice of cheap third world labour, food, and eco-systems. The most important thing we can do for Africans is to use our political power to change the way “we” do business in the world.
While we can preach this all with urgency and earnest conviction – there aren’t many men in our church to hear it.
So, two big Canadian challenges on top of the African challenge. How to connect men into a network about hope & change without expecting them to endure earnest worship and meetings? How to move that network along from the fun of a bonfire achievement to engaging in the underlying political/economic questions?
No wonder the map kept falling off the wall. The challenges here in Canada are more than enough to occupy us. The challenges between here, and there in Angola, feel big enough and beyond our capacities enough, to need GOD’s involvement in them. I like that.
Part of the plan involves sending Canadian men to Dondi. For me, this is not only about Canadians experiencing life there. What could make it a resurrection experience for us Canucks - is the chance to look at Canada through African eyes – maybe even through GOD’s eyes – and so with such vision to follow...
For more info check http://thedondiproject.blogspot.com/