Sunday, November 6, 2011

Find a Penny...

11 August 2011   <-- (Here are a few more musings from my first days back... that got lost in the shuffle and never made it online.)

... pick it up ... and all the day you'll have good luck!
I was heading home via the airport the other day (seems like I’ve been doing that a lot lately!).  As I plopped down on one of the oh-so-comfortably-divided airport benches at my gate to wait for my flight, my eye was drawn to something shiny under the seats across from me.  The sight might not have gained your attention, but it definitely caught mine.  Because, you see, I don't think I've seen a coin or spare change lying around on the ground for over two years.

I had to wonder a couple of things.  One, why is it that in all the countries I've been to in the past two years (and others before that), I've never seen change lying around on the ground?  And two, why is this such a common sight in the States?

I've heard of people throwing away pennies simply because "they're not worth anything."  A sad thought, in my mind.  (I was raised by parents who taught me to save my pennies and hit the clearance section first!)  But I did have to ponder why it is that we have such a prevalence of coins lying on the sidewalk when other countries seemingly have none to leave by the wayside, accidental though it might be.  Are we so affluent here in America that we don't need to take time to pick up something worth so little?  Or are we too busy to notice such a "treasure" on the ground?

(Allow me to stretch the topic a bit…) 

Jesus talked about found treasures in the Bible, and the worth they should hold.  He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Mat 13:44).

Sometimes, I’m amazed at the treasures that we have in front of us that we simply take for granted.  Yes, a penny is a little thing.  Only worth one cent.  But it does have worth.  And as I prepare to go back to Tanzania, I see a correlation between our lack of need for small treasures such as pennies and for larger treasures like God’s Word. 
Did you know that there are over 500 English translations of the Bible available today?  It truly is an amazing thing.  My students at HOPAC will tell you that my favorite website is, and they just might be right.  I like to go online and look up different versions of the same passage of Scripture to better understand what I’m reading.  And I love to model this for my kids.  I love even more to pull up a version of the Bible in a child’s own heart language and have them read it in the language they understand best for the class.  (I can’t think of a better, more powerful way to teach Bible to an English Language Learner in my classroom than having them memorize God’s Word in their own language… instead of trying to get them to grasp deep, meaningful concepts in a language they struggle to understand!)
Because isn’t that really what it’s all about?  Speaking to people in a way that connects to their heart?  The staggering statistic is that in Tanzania alone, there over 120 languages spoken.  These are the languages that speak to people's hearts - the ones their mothers spoke to them when they were born.  While they may know Swahili, or English, or another trade-language, their "heart language" is what will move them the most in discussing ideas and emotions that are most meaningful to them. 

I’ll be the first to say that I struggle sometimes to read my Bible.  It’s not always easy to stay plugged in to His Word.  But when I remember what a treasure it is to hear and see God’s Word in my own language, it makes it a little easier to dive in.  And when I realize just how many people don’t have a single word of Scripture in a language they understand best, it convinces me again that there is still work to be done… and that I have a place in the process!

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