International Ministries

Sand Castles

August 5, 2012 Journal
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Dear Friends,

Little landslides of sand crumbled into the swirling water.  I remembered exuberant days as a child, building sandcastles  at the beach.  How long would the “castle” be able to resist the onslaught of the waves?  I watched with a mix of delight and a tinge of sadness as my little creation was absorbed back into the endless expanse of ocean and sand.  But on this day, no delight lifted the heaviness of my heart, as I watched the sand tumble into the water.  There was no anticipation of making another castle when the tide went out.  I was watching the Old Brahmaputra River gnaw at the land and homes of very poor people on the edge of Jamalpur, where Jeanine and I had begun to raise our family years ago.

Jesus said, “The wise man built his house upon the rock.”  But what if there are no rocks?  Bangladesh is the world’s largest delta region.  And what if you cannot afford to feed your children, let alone buy land on high, safe ground away from the river?  What if you have put a school out among those people, so that their children could escape the endless downward spiral, and that school has already been consumed by the fickle appetite of the river?  Sometimes, the natural forces that work against people are overwhelming.  One woman took a loan from a village cooperative for only $55 to stock her shop, but now the river has erased her shop from the landscape.  It will be very hard for her to pay back money.  

International Ministries some years ago committed to empowering people living on these sand bars and in others ways on the edges of society to break the endless cycle of poverty to which they were condemned.  We have taught them the simple skills of reading and writing, and building on the beautiful interdependence already in Bengali culture, taught them how to save and pool their own money and make low interest loans to each other.  In eight years, these people who are among the poorest in Bangladesh have been able to save together over $5,000!!!  

As a result they have been able to buy build their own businesses and then their own homes.  Some sell bracelets and ornaments to other women, some sell firewood, and some run little shops.  Others have purchased cows, sewing machines, or rickshaws for their husbands.  They have been able to supply the wedding costs for girls with no chance of a proper wedding otherwise.  They have worked together to make repairs on community assets like roads and paths.  Most importantly, their children are in schools.

Thank you for your commitment to the ongoing empowerment of these people, with occasional emergency disaster recovery help, through your giving to International Ministries, One Great Hour of Sharing, and my own support that makes this kind of involvement in people’s lives possible.

With deepest gratitude,

Walt White

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