Those of you who know me, know that my wife and I have started a Christian 501c3 organization called, “ReturnHope International.”
Anyway….I say that to say…
Some of ReturnHope’s work is being done in Africa. I have a deep love for the people of Africa. Specifically the people of Uganda. When I was in Uganda recently, I spoke with a couple locals who were asking me about what American’s think of Ugandans…or Africans, in General.
One of the Ugandan people got more specific with me. This person told me they received a letter from an American describing how two Christians were fighting in America over work that needed to be done in Africa. The letter was warning the Africans to stay out of the conflict to avoid getting hurt.
They told me that the writer of the letter used an African Proverb to try to make a point to them. “What African Proverb was used,” I asked. They responded by quoting the proverb…
“WHEN TWO ELEPHANTS ARE FIGHTING, IT IS THE GRASS THAT GETS TRAMPLED.”
The African told me that the letter was warning them about how they are the only ones who would get trampled by these fighting Americans and they needed to make sure they stayed out of the way of the Elephants that were fighting. Then the African asked me a question, with obvious hurt and frustration on his face…
“Do American’s think themselves as elephants, and Africans as grass?”
I very sincerely replied, “I can only speak for myself…I cannot begin to tell you what the writer of that letter thinks, but I am deeply sorry if you have been hurt by this person’s letter. It does seem the writer believes themselves to be an Elephant….and you Africans as the grass, that gets hurt when they fight.” I then told them that most American’s do not think this way.
I also said, “since we are talking about proverbs, have you heard the proverb… “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” Then I said, “let me just say that very few Americans would actually think in such an arrogant and ungodly way…please do not let this one American, who wrote the letter, ruin it for the rest of us Americans.”
I also asked the recipient of the letter, to give the writer of the letter, the benefit of the doubt by hoping the writer just displayed their own ignorance by trying to use an African proverb in an attempt to sound smarter than they actually are.
What I thought was just a friendly conversation between some people getting to know each other, was actually…I believe…the voice of God warning me and other American Christians about how we treat the very people we serve…”in the name of Jesus.”
If you are a Christian who is also American…and you do good work for the less fortunate, locally and/or in foreign places…I have some questions for you.
1. Do you think you are actually taking God to the foreigner? If you do…you are ignorant of the real God and ignorant of how active and alive He is all around the world…and how patient God is with your ignorance. God is at work everywhere…and we as followers of Jesus must choose to obey His commands to serve the less fortunate….but…God is already there and working…we aren’t so special that we are actually taking God to them.
2. Do you think you are an Elephant and the less fortunate are just Grass? The American writer of the letter that used this African proverb, is all the evidence the Africans needed to think all American’s are arrogant. The damage has been done and it will take many-many Americans going to Africa with humble attitudes and humble servants hearts to prove, through our actions, that 99.9% of Americans do not think that Africans are grass under our American elephant feet. Good Grief! I am so frustrated by this letter that was written and caused serious mental damage.
Only God is THE Elephant…the rest of us are but grass!
3. With the work you do in 3rd world countries or to the less fortunate in the USA…are you actually serving the recipient to a point where they are growing into self sufficiency(Being ‘grass’ with them)…or are you causing them to become dependent upon your giving? Think long and hard on this one…How many years have well intentioned Christians been in Africa trying to do good, yet African self sufficiency is no closer to a reality? Think of it this way… If you disappeared from the foreign fields you have been doing good in…would the people of that foreign field be able to succeed without you and your gifts / aid? Is the good you are doing for the least of these, leading them into working towards self sufficiency, or toward dependency on you?
Never forget what Jesus said as He was talking about His 2nd return…
“The Grass shall be the Elephant and the Elephant shall be the grass.”
Or…more biblically correct…
The last shall be first! The first shall be last! (Its all about motive/attitude) Hey letter writer…Do you still think you are an elephant and the Africans are just grass?
One last sentence in my rant towards the bully elephant’…
Jesus…is THE Elephant. When He came to earth and incarnated Himself from an Elephant to just a piece of grass…He washed our feet. He let us abuse Him. He served us. He let us kill Him. “For even the Son of Man came not to be an elephant but to be grass, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Please read Mark 10:45 for the exact version.
The Bull Elephant served the grass that in return mowed Him down.
Oh writer of this letter to the Africans… For God’s sake…for Africa’s sake…for your very own eternal destination’s sake…Do NOT think any longer that you are an Elephant and that Africans are but grass…you owe the Africans an apology. You owe it to Americans to redeem our reputation.
To all servants of the most High God…may the recipients of our service see our love and humility and may we demonstrate our equality amongst them.
If you still think you are an Elephant…you have your animals confused…you are mistaking an elephant for a donkey.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
For the Record…..
I, Trent A. Renner, am a piece of grass.