Wake Up Call

On Sunday, when I picked Joseph up from his Sunday School class, he was carrying a blue piece of paper on which he had glued a picture of two boys in karate uniforms. An adult had written, “Who is your neighbor?” After discussing what he had played during Sunday School (superheroes, of course), I asked him, “Well, who is your neighbor?” I fully expected some kind of shallow yet adorable four year old response indicative of his world view, a comment that would make me laugh and I would post on Facebook for its cuteness. What I heard was far better. “Everyone is my neighbor, Mommy.” Everyone.

In my last blog, I talked about waking up from our slumber, about how we can easily throw money at causes and yet not connect in a compassionate way with those around us or with those causes we theoretically support. Mostly, we’ve fallen asleep on God. Those who founded Compassion Tea Company are different. The idea for the company had its inception out of the caring work of The CareNow Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to sending medicine, medical supplies, and medical training to rural villages and clinics in South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The CareNow Foundation was created after Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom visited several countries in Southern Africa in 2002 and again in 2004. Aghast at the enormity of the AIDS crisis, Ed and Wendy saw that solving the AIDS crisis was an incredibly daunting task but that other aid could be offered immediately. Ed commented the other day that while one could sit around and discuss plans for solving the problem, that wasn’t caring now and caring NOW was what he and Wendy wanted to do, to find ways to help immediately. That people were dying due to the lack of a medicine that cost 25 cents, Ed added, seemed ludicrous and unconscionable to him. Hence, CareNow was created. Please visit their website for more information: http://www.carenowfoundation.org/history.html.

Seeing the situation in Africa in person had a similar impact on the rest of the Compassion Tea Company founders. Each of them has traveled to Africa, some multiple times. And each one of the founders can tell you how that experience changed their life. Lee Kennedy, another founder and Matt’s uncle, explained to me, “Seeing first hand, looking into the eyes of people and realizing how much I have, how much even the poor of this country have, by comparison, changed me. Bill Hybels (Founder and Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago) once stated that when he went to Africa and saw it, something changed and relocated in his gut and it never returned to where it had been. I understand that. Scriptures often talk about how Jesus looked at individuals, the leper, the prostitute, the down and out, and saw them, not their titles, illnesses, occupations. There is something about really looking into the eyes and seeing that changes you. I went through life looking at pictures and news and not really seeing. Once I saw, I had to do something.”

Everyone, after all, is our neighbor. Compassion Tea Company seeks to bring those neighbors in Africa into our view so that we can look into their eyes and really see. It’s not just about tea, and really good tea at that. It’s about sharing tea, and saving lives.

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2 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on compassiontea and commented:

    Throwback Thursday… let’s take a look back! (And remember, we’ve changed the name… CompassioNow (www.compassionow.org) used to by the Care Now Foundation.

    Reply
  1. There’s This | compassiontea

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