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How I Lost My Faith

african with water bottleBy Reddit user cn2092

This is a bit long. Sorry.

In '07 I was chosen to be a part of a 7-person group to visit some missionaries we supported in South Africa. I was sixteen, brainwashed, and on fire for this trip. Total cost per person to go? $2,300. As a team, we held fundraisers and we spoke each and every Sunday and Wednesday at church to encourage people to give money toward this great cause and the great work that we were going to do. We basically told people that they were wrong and selfish if they didn't support the missions program.

So we get about a week out and everyone's got their money and we're getting ready to go. We get the final itinerary for our ten-day trip and while looking it over I started to notice something seemed a bit off, although I couldn't put my finger on it. We are meeting every day at this point to rehearse the skits and things we'll be doing while we're over there.

We get to SA and are picked up at the airport by the missionary and her "assistant" or "head pastor" in a big conversion van. We get to her place and let me tell you: it is nice. Not nice as in she's living like a queen or even maybe how we would think of really nice in America, but compared to these other people, her place is a palace. She's got running water, she's got tons of food, she's got extra space and tv and everything. Not too bad, I thought, this will be nice.

Throughout our ten days we did not do anything of any real value. We didn't bring food. We didn't build anything. We didn't provide medical care. We didn't hardly break a sweat. We ate like kings. We were always full. We drove thirty miles one day to go to the MALL. To SHOP. For OURSELVES. We ate burgers and fries and coleslaw from an overpriced restaurant with the extra spending money that we had brought from extra donations.

Let me tell you something about Tzaneen, South Africa, folks. There are poor people there. There are no poor people in America. Yeah, we have homeless, "hungry", etc. But there's always a place for shelter and resources for help. In many of the small villages there is one water well. That one water well gets water let to it from the city two times a week for two hours at a time. The entire village must share and collect as much water as they possibly can during this time for all of their drinking, bathing, etc.

There is no readily available food. Many steal just to provide anything for their families. When the girls are old enough (young teens) they start to prostitute themselves to put food on the table. The living conditions are terrible. Imagine a cubicle at a bank. Double that, throw in some dirt floors, shoddy, weathered wooden walls, thatched roof with holes all over the place, and throw in a family of five: eldest brother (19) who works all week in the city and is never at home. Next four range in age from 5-17. Both sisters prostitute themselves. There is no bed. There is no regular source of food. Both parents have died from AIDS. All of the children have AIDS from their mother.

Now imagine driving by in a van as big as their home, drinking water from a fucking bottle, complaining that it's too hot because the A/C is broken and you just happen to weigh 350 pounds (hellooooo, Pastor). The motherfucking nerve. This is when I really started to notice things were off. Did we stop? Fuck, no. We saw one of the kids at service that night in their village, though. Of course we told them that God was great and provided for all of His children. Fuck that.

Another day we were door-to-door witnessing. My team of four took a small village at the top of a "mountain" (read: big hill). It was about a half an hour walk up to the top. I met a lady in her mid-forties in a tattered green shirt, long skirt cached with dirt, and a leapord-print headdress. She was dirty, smelly, and looked a type of sad that I could never begin to understand. It was my turn to witness.

"Do you know about Jesus, miss? Do you know what a great and wonderful, kind and loving God I have come to tell you about?"... and it hit me like a hulk-fist to the stomach: What God is going to help this woman? What God is going to bring back the son that she hadn't seen or heard from in two weeks, who had been involved in the local gang activity? What God was going to provide her next drink of water? No God was going to do these things for her.

I finished praying with her; I didn't know what else to do. She accepted Christ, Hallelujah! Glory to His name! I felt... numb. We had been here for six days at this point and hadn't done a single real thing for anybody.

"Alright, cn2092, we're headed back down. We should get moving before it gets too hot!"

I couldn't move. Here I was holding two bottles of water for the terribly difficult journey of one mile I had embarked upon. I was wearing my favorite hat to shield my face because God forbid I get sunburnt! As the others were walking away, I turned around and found that lady. I told her in my English, without the translator, to take these bottles and this hat, and to take care and that I would keep her in my prayers. To my shame, this is the only real thing I did the entire ten days I was in Africa. It was the only thing any of us did.

We spent all that money, all that time, all that energy, to go on a fucking church tour and tell some of the poorest, most downtrodden people on Earth what a great God we served. How He was the ultimate provider, healer, and comforter.
Before we left I gave all of the clothes I had taken over except for what I was wearing home. I left the rest of my snacks and I bought as much water as I could with what spending money I had left.

A big part of me died over there. My faith did, for sure. My faith in people, my faith in the church, my faith in Christians, and my faith in God.

My heart still breaks to think of all that money wasted. $16,000. We could have built dozens of homes, schools, etc. We could have built wells. We could have provided so many meals for so many people.

We did fucking nothing. "