Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Category: 117

Flooding in Pakistan

The flooding in Sindh seems to be the worst I’ve ever seen it. Crops are dying. Houses are losing their foundations and falling. Diseases like malaria and typhoid are going to be spreading rampant very soon. The whole province is in pain. My mother-in-law’s house is flooded up to knee-level. They rarely have electricity.

I have been slowly building my mother-in-law a house to retire in. It’s on an elevated place and is, apparently, less damaged. I’ve been working on it for three years and it’s almost livable now. Just a few hundred more dollars and it’ll be ready. We’re hoping we can manage soon because the house they are in now is in a depression, so it’s getting hit harder than most places.

So, praying friends, pray for Sindh and for my family. In the West we don’t realize how dangerous these floods can be. The biggest danger is never drowning. It’s the failing crops, the wildly spreading diseases, the damage to the houses. When we were living in Pakistan 300 houses collapsed in my mother-in-law’s town. And this year, apparently, it’s worse. The people need help. So I ask, pray and, if you can, send some help. We’re trying to get them into their new house so this won’t be a problem and we’d also like to help with many of our other friends who live in the rural villages. If you can help, please let us know and we can give you details.


A Tangled Webb

I get depressed sometimes when I look around. I think that the news and those commercials with starving brown kids affect me a little more than they do most people. Not because I’m more sensitive or loving. Just because I’ve lived in those kinds of places. I get sad when I look at my digital oven and moving car and think about my cousins and in-laws who live under a thatched roof. Or when I think about my greatest danger being getting to and from work while my friend Tal-ban is driving a taxi in Pakistan’s northern areas. Also, I have a great imagination, so I can very clearly picture what it might feel like to have my father’s shop blown up by protesters or have my family killed in a war that they were not fighting.

All this can get debilitating, I think. Even in the Bible we read things like a time for war … a time to die. There is a time for everything, y’know? There is even a time for murder and hate and genocide and religious violence and immoral politics.

But this, too, shall be made right.

There oughtn’t be a time for war and death and sorrow and pain. But for now there is a time for it. But it shall be made right.

I wonder, then, if we will help usher in that time? Or shall we sit back and watch?

Of course, none of this will touch any of us unless we love. We were made to love. Isn’t love great? Sometimes I get upset because my wife is away, but then I think about the people she loves over there and I think about how much love she is pouring into that place. And then things get better (also, I sometimes just sit and stare at this picture).
Check out my wife’s widow project: i117

Task 117

A guest post from Ruth.

   “My people do not understand!” laments God at the opening of the book of Isaiah. Oxen know their masters and donkeys know their master’s beds, but the people of God simply do not understand. Throughout the first chapter of the book God calls his people evildoers, whores, dishonest and murderers. But why?
   A glance at history and you’d be tempted to think the people of Israel were doing okay. God himself admits that they were faithful in the different rituals that had been laid down to him. They observed the sabbath and all the other special days and gave the offerings they were commanded to give. They were quite religious. So what was the problem? What was so bad that God was prompted to command them to stop being faithful to the religious code he’d given them (Is. 1:13)?

      Learn to do good;
   seek justice,
      correct oppression;
   bring justice to the fatherless,
      plead the widow’s cause
         Is. 1:17

   Here is the matter’s heart. All the slick religious duties in the world could not compare to the glorious simplicity of love and justice.
   The word plead is a neat one in Hebrew. Usually it’s used as argue, contend or quarrel. I’m no Hebrew scholar (more’s the pity), but it seems that you could legitimately translate that last bit as ‘Fight for the widow.’

   In the West, most of the offerings brought into the church are used on projects that directly benefit the people giving the money. It’s usually on something that has to do with the church building or on whoever is doing the preaching. I wonder, though, if this is the way it was meant to be. A quick look through the New Testament will show that most money donated to the church went immediately and directly to the poor and the helpless. This urge to help the helpless was so great that the early church often considered it fraud to spent it on anything else (see this great article for more info on how the early church spent its money).
   So if the example of the early church and the words of Christ and the Apostles are telling us to spend Jesus’ money on the poor, why are we spending it all on preachers and real estate?

   I’m from Pakistan. My mother is a widow. I suppose I have a bit of a bias view of things. But I’ll tell you something about widows in Pakistan. There is hardly anyone in my country who is of lower social standing than a widow, especially in my people-group. The widow is ignored, forgotten and tossed aside. Most of the ones I know have one outfit and spend their days working themselves into the grave, bent over in hot fields. They are mistreated. They are abused. And no one fights for them.

   I’m going to fight for them. I regret I didn’t see the need before my mother became a widow. But I see it now and I’m donning my gloves and entering the battle. If no one else will plead the widow’s cause, I will.
   Will you fight, too?

   We’ve set aside a special bank account.  Anything that goes in there is Jesus’ money.  I can only use it for things I think Jesus would use it on.  For now, that’s widows.  The vision may broaden as time goes on, but it’s a widow’s purse for now.  Some of you have expressed interest in helping the widows of Pakistan.  If you want to, you can put your own funds into this widows purse.
   How will this money be used to help widows?  First, it will be used to get the necessities of life, like food and clothes.  Second, it will attempt to fund basic education for the young children that most widows in Pakistan seem to have.  I’m not a charity and I don’t know a thing about tax receipts.  And I don’t intend to, either.  This is just me giving what is surplus to those who have never had a surplus.  If you have surplus, you’re free to send a cheque my way and I promise to put it to work for widows and orphans.
   I’m going to Pakistan at the end of April. After seeing my family, my main goal is to see out the worst-off widows in my area and see, more specifically, how I can fight for them. I hope to return with great stories that I’ll be sharing at the Facebook Group, 117.

   You can help. You can pray. You can join the Facebook group that I’ve made. You can send money directly to needy widows through me. You can come with me to Pakistan, sit with widows and encourage them. There is so much that can be done. If only we, as God’s people, would understand.

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