While in the Marine Corps, I spent some time in Africa conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We did the majority of our missions in the Sahara Desert where I noticed the locals were extremely poor. Most lived in tents made from camel hides and were able to move at a moment’s notice. The richer ones lived in stone houses, and there were a few that lived in tin houses.
I’m not exactly sure what they ate, but I assume they had some type of small agricultural system. There were a few goat herders so I suppose goat milk and goat meat was also part of their diet. As far as water goes, I saw one woman pulling it out of a muddy hole in the ground where a river used to flow.
During the first few weeks there, we put our trash in a large dumpster that was rented from the capitol city, located miles away. This turned out to be a problem though. The locals were so short on food they dug through our trash looking for scraps to eat. In the process of doing this, trash was scattered everywhere and disease would soon start spreading. A decision was then made to bury our trash so that wouldn’t be a problem.
One day, on the way out for a patrol, we drove by a small tribe of locals. Some were begging as we passed by and I decided on the way back I would throw them a box of food. Normally, I sit in the passenger’s seat of the Humvee commanding the vehicle. But on the way back, I wanted to be in the turret behind the gun so I could do this. As we neared them, I saw them begging again and that’s when I threw the box of food out. I can still hear that woman’s voice saying, “Merci, Merci!” Helping these people is one of the best feelings I have ever had.
The Golden Rule
Jesus sums up the Old Testament by telling us, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). This is also known as the Golden Rule. If I was standing on the side of the road begging for food I would want someone to give me something to eat. This is why I did what I did.
In order to fully adhere to the Golden Rule we can’t be judgmental of others and their situation. Before Jesus mentions the Golden Rule He asks, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye” (Matthew 7:3)? If I was judging the locals for being poor I would have never given them some of my own food to eat.
I did this as a sinner before I knew Christ and His Word, so you know Jesus expects even more from believers. Are you living by the Golden Rule?
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By David Wolstenholm. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.