By Deborah Dakin
Dakin is an Iowa Friend who teaches viola at Augustana College. She
was formerly the Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
representative to the Friends Peace Teams and wrote this as an email
in response to funding concerns. She has organized speaking tours for
a number of AGLI partners in the eastern Iowa region. Friends Peace
Teams also sponsors program in Colombia, Central America, and Indonesia.
One of the greatest things that I have gotten from my involvement
with Friends Peace Teams (FPT) is what I have learned from the folks
who do this peacework in circumstances so far removed from my own non-war
zone US life. I can say that they have given me faith lessons and that
it would be hard for me to begin to give back even a fraction compared
to what I have gotten.
We are all familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the multitude
with loaves and fishes. It appears in all four of the Gospels. But
John tells the story with an added twist that personifies what the
FPT Africans have taught me, and strikes right to the heart of what
we are called to do.
When he looked
up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He
said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, "Six months wages would not buy enough bread
for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples. Andrew,
Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has
five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Jesus
said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal
of grass in the place, so they sat down, about five thousand in all.
(John 6:5-10 NRSV)
One thing David
Zarembka talks about that has made a strong impact on me and others
is the concept of living and acting in "abundance" versus
living and acting from "scarcity".
Frequently Dave tells us that Africans inspired in their many projects,
have a first response that is one of faith: "This is a great idea.
Let's pray and act and make this happen!" Everyone recognizes
that Americans in similar situations frequently have a completely different
first response: "This is a great idea. How much will it cost?
Can we afford it?" It is obvious when comparing life in the US
to the countries where we work, who has much and who has little in
terms of money and resources and yet we find that it is the Americans
who are frequently limited in vision because of our tendency to act
from scarcity instead of abundance. How easy it is to think like Philip
Partly because of what our African, Latin American, and Indonesian
Friends have taught me, I find myself continuously having a strong
reaction to the language pervading our country about the financial
crisis and how we don't "have anything". I do not want
the pervasive view of "scarcity" that permeates almost
all discussion about money in this country be the basis of how I
think about FPT. I read many of Jesus' parables as a call for generosity,
and one that is a challenge for rich and poor to answer alike. But
it is also the key to what he is calling the Kingdom of God. This
generosity is not talking about a "dollar amount" but how
we feel about what we have and what we give.
If people in this country are worried about their dollars then a donation
to FPT is certainly a fantastic investment since a few dollars goes
a very long way. After all, FPT has almost no waste in the budget,
at least I have a hard time finding any. David once told me a weekend
workshop that we raise funds for [HROC or AVP] costs about $35 per
participant. Isn't that amazing? Where else can you get that kind of
return on so few dollars?
Please understand that I am not underestimating anyone's financial
concerns - either our own or the people we support. I am not saying
that an American's financial worries do not qualify as "real".
I recognize that some people in the United States are really financially
strained during this economic crisis. But I don't want to waste time
trying to figure out "who can give what". I constantly struggle
to not join the crowd in worrying about my own family's finances, so
I'm speaking of what I am trying to do, not what already is. This is
what I thank the Africans for showing me: If our work truly IS based
on the faith that Jesus taught, we should not limit our vision to only
our small, human capabilities and what we could accomplish with or
without God's help
All of us have our own financial situations, and regardless of what
they are, nobody knows the future. But I do think that how we discuss
this is important, if indeed we are an organization of faith. I hope
we promote our work with joy and confidence and approach people from
a sense of abundance instead of feeding their (and our) sense of scarcity.
Let's do the work, and have faith that we will get what we need.
Next article: A
Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose