I came across an article this week about our old home of Tanzania. Usually I love remembering our home there, but this news really tore apart my heart. There were children missing from a village in the south-west of the country, who were kidnapped while their parents were selling at the market; taken and killed because they were albino.
I grieved. I stopped to ponder, and pray.
The animistic culture is prevalent in Africa. There are deeply entrenched values of witchcraft and ancestor worship, leading some to serve evil - whether for money or power.
It's not a new problem. But, it’s hard. It’s grotesque to think about someone being killed for their body parts...never mind the terror that these were children. Their lives were taken to provide a service, all because they were different.
What does this mean for us, and how we value human life?
You may be thinking that this is a far cry from sanity. You may think that witchcraft is a problem for those at the far corners of the earth, where this kind of evil is enacted on the innocent.
But what does our own culture communicate about the value of human life? What do you believe?
It isn’t that difficult to look around our community and see people... or do we really see them? The elderly, the homeless, immigrants from other countries; it is remarkably easy for us to make judgement calls about them, without first really seeing who they are.
How far a reach is it, even as we look at issue of abortion, to assess the value that our own culture places on life. What do we believe about the unborn human? The human life that has a beating heart, but society says they not significant because they aren’t a “person” yet? Our culture says it’s not born yet, it’s not a person, so it’s okay to abort it. Women shouldn’t have to endure an unwanted pregnancy, they say. But, in the womb there is a human life, and there is no denying it.
What value do we give human life?
We are created in the image of God. As believers, we are indwelt with His Holy Spirit. We have a purpose, we have a job to do, and that is to be the aroma of Christ, His light to the ends of the earth; to confront darkness and overcome it, to bring healing and restoration, to bear the cross before us and walk in Jesus’ ways.
This means that we see people differently than the rest of the world does. It means we value what He values - His image in another person. We see with eyes of love and compassion. We value another human life because they are created in God’s image, they are unique and loved by their Creator and because God has a plan and purpose for their life.
“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I am remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know this very well.” Psalm 139:13-14
Life has an intrinsic value because we are created intentionally by God. There’s no mistake in your existence, or anyone else’s. We have value and meaning in who we are, and there is value and meaning in our neighbour, the homeless, the disabled. The love that we shed on others is glorifying God, because we are exemplifying the love of Jesus.
So what do we do?
Animistic cultures need Jesus. They need His healing from the entanglement of sin. However, it’s not just their culture, it’s us too. We need to repent of our own sin, of judgement towards our neighbour, and not taking a stand to defend the value of human life. Then we need to walk in the light of love, bringing the love of Jesus to those around us, proclaiming the significance of every life He has created.
So, pray for the cultures unreached with the Gospel. Pray for more workers to be sent. Pray for our own culture that is so quickly sliding away from valuing life and love, and for godly leaders to rise up and proclaim truth. Pray for the church, to rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus, defending, demonstrating and proclaiming a love like no other.
What are the ways you have found to share the love of Christ with those around you? How do you practice seeing people through the eyes of Jesus? Will you look on others and value their life?