15 June 2018Luke 10:25-37
“The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’” (v. 35)
Psalm: Psalm 82
In 2013 I visited Ethiopia, a country, I sensed, on the cusp of vital change and development, and yet its recent history has been one of great famine and hardship. As the group I was travelling with prepared to leave Ethiopia we listened to a woman who had seen the worst and some of the best of what life has to offer, and she asked us to be witnesses to and for the people of Ethiopia.
The Good Samaritan was a witness to the worst behaviours of humankind. To ignore and behave with selfish intent are some of the most abhorrent behaviours we so often see today and which are opposite to the message of the gospel (the good news of the love and new life offered by Christ).
The Good Samaritan was witness to the needs of the attacked man and to those who assisted him in seeing that the injured traveller was restored to good health. He enabled local people to do the right thing without interfering in their daily lives.
While we travelled across Ethiopia, our white skin attracted those in need because it announced our wealth. We could have dived into our pockets and handed out Ethiopian birr (the Ethiopian currency), but that would be a quick fix and as damaging as any intoxicant and depriving us of the opportunity to understand the situation fully.
Ethiopia is opening up and taking charge of its own destiny. It is both an exciting and challenging time for them. Those who are there bear witness to its peoples and enable local people to have a life are behaving like the Good Samaritan:
- Susan Aitchison left Scotland some years ago and enabled local people to set up a local school in Lalibela, where some of the students have now graduated. One of these is now working with her in a new restaurant which will, Susan envisages, be completely staffed by local people. Then Susan can retire knowing that she has been a Good Samaritan with her skills and talents.
- MRDF (Methodist Relief and Development Fund) (now All We Can) had set up a beekeeping project in a remote region of Ethiopia which has enabled local people to generate their own income and learn skills which they can transfer to other projects.
- Habitat for Humanity is working with local people to build their own homes in communities where the weakest are strengthened by the help and support of neighbours. And schools have become centres for local communities by setting up projects for adults that give them skills and an income, while their children are receiving an education.
As Ethiopia is enabled to trust other organisations so that it does not lose its own identity, its recognised bad cultural practices are being challenged by her own people because they have witnessed the changes that others can offer as positive ways forward for them.
- What does being a witness or a Good Samaritan mean to you in terms of the needs of some of the poorest in the world?
- Being a witness to and for the people of any developing nation carries a significant responsibility. How can we attend to the needs of people without interfering in their identity or causing further dependence?