“Here and there in the world, and now and then in ourselves, is a New Creation.” - Paul Tillich
“It's a new day. Everything will change. We will never be the same.” - David Crowder
Year by year, I grow more to love that Christianity expresses the paradoxes that are the reality of our lives. These are the impressive truths of our faith. That mankind is cruel and magnificent. That life is incredibly simple and hopelessly complex. That the world is dying all around, yet being renewed day by day.
It may be part of the nature of things here that this last observation is exemplified. Many are the days when, at my utmost optimism without abandoning realism, I can only say with Paul Tillich that goodness and newness are peeking through “here and there”. It does take a certain set of eyes to see even that much, but I believe that agreement with this can be found more or less empirically. It's a humble acknowledgment, and beautiful in its honesty and humility.
And yet the promises of Jesus loom large. They would be embarrassing if they weren't so utterly lovely. “I am making all things new,” he says. All things? Not just “here and there” and “now and then”? The deep joy this fosters rings true, but it also forces me to reckon with the worst tragedies. I won't rehash the details here, but you know the stories. You are making this new? Here?
And so we live in expectation. Maybe even paradox. But if the story of the bible – it's depiction of God's character, it's worldview, it's overarching redemptive story – is to be believed, then it may be true. Maybe even this can be reconciled.
Think of Abraham. God delivers an embarrassingly large promise. Leave your home. Go to the place I will show you. Your descendents will be like the stars in the sky. Abraham goes. And he dies in a foreign land with one promised son, his only inheritance a cave to bury his wife, for which he was charged an extortionate fee.
Did the promises fail? No. And yet, though Abraham looked forward to their fulfillment, he didn't see it. But we have. We have seen it come to pass, and it is marvelous in our eyes. All peoples are blessed. His descendents are without number.
And thus was the New Creation always present, everywhere, but peeking through to our eyes, only now and then.
Hope requires faith, but it need not be unfounded. For if it was true of the promises to Abraham, then maybe it is true now, in some way that can be looked forward to, but not yet seen, for now only popping up now and then, through some brief rent in the curtain.
Then, one day...
So, may our eyes be blessed, that we might see the New Creation, here and there, now and then. And may our hearts be blessed with faith that we might believe, through these small glimpses, in an ever-present reality of Jesus our Savior making all things new.
Madagascar is a country of great beauty and rich diversity. For example, Madagascar is home to half of the 150 species of chameleons worldwide – one of which is 2 feet long – Anna would love living there. Yet Madagascar is a country of desperate poverty as well, with 70% of its people living on less than $1 per day.
As you can see, Abi could easily pass for a Malagasy child.
Our contacts there were through Africa Inland Mission, which is the organization we would partner with if we went there. We were very impressed with their intentional vision, thoughtful planning, and well-designed strategy.
We spent two days in the capital, Antananarivo, meeting with missionaries and touring the area and its medical facilities. Then we took a short flight up to Mahajanga, instead of the 11 hour drive. Mahajanga is a small city on the coast with very warm temperatures and very beautiful beaches.
With the help of missionaries in Mahajanga, we explored the possibility of working and teaching in a 360-bed hospital which is run by the government. This hospital is one of the primary training sites for over 300 eager medical students and about 75 interns who study at the University of Mahajanga, but they have a shortage of teaching physicians. We were warmly invited by the administration of the university to come and work and teach.
The language situation is a bit daunting. First we would need to learn French (which we would use primarily with colleagues and students in the hospital and medical school). Then we would also need to learn to speak Malagasy (which would be used to talk with patients and everyone else). That could require a year in France, and maybe another 8 months of dedicated language time in Madagascar before starting work.
Overall, Madagascar is a place of great potential where we could be involved in wholistic medical work and significant teaching. It seems that there is a rising tide of development interest in Mahajanga, and it would be exciting to be a part of that momentum.
So it looks like it will be a tough decision to decide which country we will go to. Hopefully God will call others to work at these other sites. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
We are happy to be home. This picture was taken today as we gathered to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the day Abi came home to the Fader household. We feel very blessed today. Blessed to have adopted Abi, blessed to have had an excellent trip to Madagascar, and blessed to come back to such a wonderful group of friends here in Kenya.
Scouting season has officially started for the McCropders. I am writing this from Madagascar, where Heather and I are exploring an opportunity to work with a medical school in Mahajanga, which is on the northwest part of the island. We have had a very busy and fulfilling time thus far and we are amazed by the potential for training here.
The McLaughlins are leaving tomorrow for Burundi. There is a medical school in Bugumbura, which they are investigating. We all look forward to returning to Tenwek on Sunday and talking with each other about these places.
Cropseys are busy back at Tenwek holding down the fort, and also taking care of Anna. It wasn't feasible for her to come here with us, but I'm sure she and Elise are enjoying slumber parties every night.
We are praying for open minds and discerning hearts during these trips to know where would be the best place for us to go after our time at Tenwek.