Saturday, February 16, 2008

World Vision Experience

Yesterday morning, Gary and I had the privilege of walking through the World Vision "Step Into Africa" experience at Cornerstone Church in Livermore.

The experience (totally free, by the way) is a tour of sorts through the life of a real child affected by AIDS in Africa. As you put on the headphones and step through the curtain, you take on their identity and walk in their footsteps. You see pictures of them with their family. You sit in their bed. You consider what you would do if you were faced with the same decisions, if you were treated the same way by others, if you found yourself in a similar situation. My child was Emmanuel, a young boy in Uganda, orphaned by that deadly disease.

It was interesting for me to walk through this experience after having spent time in Africa in 2006, to feel a sort of familiarity with what I saw. But for red earth under my feet, and the heavy smoke of burning trash heaps in the air, I could have actually been in a hut in East Africa.

The idea of this experience is to break past the overwhelming statistics and make the reality more personal. 1 million orphans in Kenya alone - these kind of numbers can paralyze you. But to understand Emmanuel's life, to walk in his shoes for half an hour, reminds me that even sponsoring one child will make a positive difference in the world. While there is much to be sad about, there is encouragement to see that something can be done.

Sunday evening, Gary and I will be going back, this time with a few high schoolers from our church. We are going to hear from Princess Kasune Zulu, Dr. Sam Huddleston, and a special choir. Following the service, we will walk through the experience together, then as a group purchase and assemble a few AIDS caregiver kits.

I invite you to join us for the event Sunday evening, or to check out the experience on your own any time through Wednesday.

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