Yes We Can

In Uganda, I bought a few $1 bracelets for my daughters and a wooden car for my son.  I handed the man in the market my money and he handed me a small plastic bag and some coins.  “Thank you,” I said and turned to walk away.

“Vote Obama for change!” he shouted after me.

I was stunned.  What does this man know about the election in America, still many months away?

I doubled back.  “Why do you like Obama?”

“He will help Africa.”

This morning on the bus ride to a Compassion project, one of our translators for the week flopped a newspaper in my lap.  “Would you like to read about your new president?” he asked.

A conversation began, a conversation I’ve had in three third world countries over the last year.  It’s not a political conversation at its core.  It’s not an exchange truly about the superiority of this party or that, this man or that one, though it seemed that way the first time I had it.  No, it’s a conversation about hope.

The people of Ethiopia, Uganda and now the Dominican Republic feel forgotten by those blessed by God with more resources and power than they have.  So, many citizens in the third world hope.  They hope the next man to sit in the oval office will remember them.  They hope the new ruling party will take up their cause.  They hope for change as they’ve been hoping for decades.

If you come to my site often, you probably know where this post is going already.  But here I go again anyway.

I am grateful beyond words for the benevolence of my nation’s leaders, on both sides of the aisle, regardless of what form that benevolence takes.  I’m thankful for senators and presidents who want to fix some of what is broken in the world. I admire their intellect and compassion.  But they are not enough.  The mess is too big. It is not enough for any of us then to vote every four years, to place our hopes in the power of presidents and congressmen no matter how brilliant and hard working they are.

After reading the local paper this morning (or having it read to me) I stepped off the bus and walked into a Compassion project where children sang:  Put your hands in the hand of the Man who walked on water.


I walked with a university student studying marketing. She grew up singing in that project.  She said her Compassion project was “God’s hidden gift for her.” Her mother said Compassion and her daughter’s sponsor gave her hope at a time when her little girl was too poor to even own a dress.


I heard a student tell a crowd of younger children that where God is, “every chain can be broken.” I believe her.

This is the greatest shift Compassion International has made to my way of thinking about the world.  I’ve seen Compassion’s ministry in five countries over the last few years and every time I’ve returned home reminded of the power of Christ and His people when they spring into action.  We, the Church planted around the globe, can participate in a revolution of mercy that brings hope to the hopeless. And that reminds me of a speech I heard late last night.

Today, thirty thousand children, most under the age of five, died from poverty.  Thirty thousand don’t have to die tomorrow.  Yes we can.

Over a million children in twenty-five countries won’t go to bed hungry tonight. Yes we can.

The prayers of their parents haven’t gone unanswered. Yes we can.

These children have books to read, teachers who care for them.  Yes we can.

They dream of becoming doctors, pastors, electricians, mechanics, and nurses, of working hard and escaping the bonds of destitution.  Yes we can.

Their decrepit homes are being transformed into places where sleep is sound and play is safe.  Yes we can.

Many of them once felt worthless and invisible, but now the letters come and the words inside convince them of their value.  Yes we can.

Yes you can.  They’re hoping someone will.