My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stuck in the Middle

I was asked a bit ago how I felt about the great disparity between living in the US and living here in Ghana.

I reflected back on my time returning home from Kenya in 2004.  I had been incredibly challenged by what I saw in Kenya.  Challenged by the poverty, the need, the desperate desire for many to be more than what their circumstances warrented.  I was ashamed returning back from that trip and moving into an apartment with my friends in Southern California--known for it's overwhelming wealth.  I remember taking cold showers, shutting off the water in between washing, for about a month, to conserve water, and to live in solidarity with the friends that I had made in Kenya.  I remember driving and parking in the farthest spot in the parking lot, just so I could walk.  I remember talking to friends and family and feeling...well, unheard.  They couldn't understand my experience there...and how could I make them understand?  They saw pictures, but they couldn't taste and smell and see...they hadn't experienced it, so there was so little that connected them to what I had experienced.

I came back to the States and I was mad.  I was frustrated at the culture.  I was mad that as Americans, we spent more money on filling up with pop culture than we did helping others.  The need was overwhelming, yet I couldn't MAKE anyone understand that there was more to life than living for yourself.

And now, though I live about 90% of my year in Ghana, I am stuck between two cultures.  I live here as an American trying to figure out this culture.  I see the needs.  I am struck by the overwhelming difference between the two. 

I see the way that American culture values money and stuff.  I see how time is valued differently there.  And even relationships are valued differently.  I see the way that people live BIG in the States. 

But, I also see the beauty of so many things in the States.  I love the laughter that comes along with Disneyland fun.  I love going to the movies.  I love hot water showers.  I love air conditioning.  I love watching live musicals and plays.  I love having access to things that we just don't have here.

And I love that there are people in my life who invest in those needs being met here.  I see that there are people who GET it!  They live with their hands outstreched and open for God to meet the needs of His people around the world.

But, I also see the great balance that God calls us to. 

There are things that are horribly wrong with life here in Ghana.  Too many to list actually.

And there are things that are horribly wrong with life in the States.  Another long list.

But there is this delicate balance that I believe that God calls the church to walk into.

I love how in the book of Acts, it talks about how everything was shared among the believers and none were in need.

And I guess I wish that I saw the Church--the world-wide church--as a better picture of that. 

The thing is...I can't challenge an entire culture to change their understanding of meeting a world-wide need.

But, people can be challenged in relationship.  I can challenge those I know to think differently.  To walk differently.  To live more open-handed. 

This delicate balance is tricky to walk, especially living over here most of the year. 

It's a little like being stuck in the middle seat on a long road trip.

But that middle seat has some distinct advantages.  They get to build relationships between both sides.  They get to hear all the stories that both sides have to offer.  And perhaps, they get to be a bridge.

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