Niger, ranked as the second-poorest nation on Earth, is experiencing its worst famine in more than 20 years, as a brutal drought last year was followed by a plague of crop-destroying locusts. An estimated 3.5 million of Niger's 12 million people are currently at risk of starvation.
"That's why it was so important for this mission to happen right now," said Clarkson. "So many people here are suffering. Disease, starvation, and lack of shelter are day-to-day realities in Niger. But once they hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior—once they really take Him into their hearts—then they will see what poor comforts are the things of this world."
Though "spiritually gratified" by their work, many of the missionaries spoke about the difficulties of working in an impoverished country."It can be so hard being away from the comfort of our homes and our loving families," Clarkson confided. "I will admit, there have been times when I prayed, 'Lord, just help me get through this mission and get me back to Texas!' But when we rolled into town and people started running after the truck with those big smiles on their faces, I couldn't help but smile back."
Clarkson added: "And when we opened up the back of the truck and they saw that it was full of Bibles... Grown men and women wept in front of their children. That's how moved they were by the Holy Spirit. That's how I know it's all been worth it." Clarkson said her mission will succeed in bringing the people of Niger "the spiritual sustenance they've been deprived of," despite such obstacles as the nation's 18 percent literacy rate. "You say you're suffering. I say, let the good Lord do the suffering for you," she said. "You say you're exhibiting the deleterious effects of severe dehydration and chronic malnutrition. And I say that no matter what ails you, the Holy Bible is the best medicine there is."
As I read this article, I started getting upset and annoyed that my intelligent friend had been duped into believing there were actually people like this in the world. I was on my way to Snopes.com to check the story out when I remembered—the Onion, where this article was published—is a satirical zine. Satire.
According to dictionary.com, satire is “Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity”. Irony, sarcasm, caustic wit—it’s all there, and I love it all. And I am not above laughing at myself, not at all. I am more than a little familiar with the kind of people who are being mocked in this article.
Then there is the second part of the definition of sarcasm: a method used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity. That’s where I began to feel downright insulted. But, you know, to each his own. And yes, if you have an ability to laugh at yourself, the article is humorous. So I laughed. But when I stopped laughing, I started thinking, because there is always a grain (or more) of truth in satire.
And I wondered:
Who among us would deny a father who has lost his young son the humanity of being angry by dismissing that anger with “you just have to trust the Lord”?
Who among us would send a woman who has been broken by her husband’s inability to learn how to manage his anger to a Bible study called “You Can Be The Wife of a Happy Husband”?
Who among us would make feeding the homeless a “once every summer” project for our youth, allowing them to deliver the gospel with peanut butter sandwiches for a week, and then return home with a renewed sense of “how very blessed we are”?
Who among us would tell an addict who has fallen for the umpteenth time, “you’ll never amount to anything”?
Who among us has not resorted to tossing quick and pithy phrases out as wisdom, uttering sound bites like these? –
“Just do it.”—good advice for a person weighed down with depression?
“Get a job.”—the cure for poverty?
“Keep your legs closed.”—helpful for the teenage girl who only wants someone to cherish her?
“Just say no.”—why can’t those darn addicts get the message?
Like I said, I got to thinking.
And I wondered, how many times have I given a stone for bread?
"Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own"--Johathan Swift