Today is going to be a little more rambling, but in my defence, this topic is rather broad. Also, I would like to, once again, remind you that this blog is made up of my personal opinions, and do not reflect those of my school or any organizations I may be affiliated with. Also, discussions on faith and religion can become extremely ugly very quickly, so please remember to think before you post, and try to respect everyone’s differences. I am all for discussion and opposing views being brought up, just stay friendly!
First, faith and religion – personally, I think that these can overlap, but are two different concepts. Faith is the belief and trust in things unseen and unknown, while religion is the trappings that we dress faith up in –this may be shown in the way individuals act, speak, and present themselves. To me, faith is knowing that there is a greater purpose to life than simply pleasing myself, and religion is requiring weekly church attendance or daily prayer times. I’m not saying those aspects of religious culture are bad, simply emphasizing that, humans are wont to categorize and label, and this is one of the ways in which we often ‘decide’ whether people are ‘real’ in their faith. The saying “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian (insert any religion here) any more than standing in a garage makes you a car” is one that calls attention to this difference.
I profess to be a Christian, and in saying that, I mean that I believe that there is one God who is three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who created everything and desires to have real and individual relationships with each of us. That’s the short version.
The longer version goes like this: God created us to reflect His glory, and gave us free will as part of the reflection. We messed up and because God is perfect and righteous, He has to judge sinners, meaning that we would never be able to be as close to Him as Adam and Eve were in the garden (they got to go on evening walks with Him every day!). To fix this, God sent the Son to earth as a human to carry the punishment of all humankind on himself and die on a cross. This means that we CAN have a close relationship with God – if we acknowledge our sinfulness and His righteousness, ask for forgiveness, and work to build that relationship with Him throughout our life. Now, by work, I don’t mean that we have to be perfect; I mean that, just like any human relationship, we need to take time to talk to, listen to, and learn about each other. That is why, as a Christian, I take time to pray, read the Bible, listen to teachings, worship Him, and, in trying to learn about and do things that God likes, I serve others, enjoy nature, and hang out with other Christians.
Now, admittedly, to people who don’t believe in a God, or in my God, this may seem kooky, crazy, and just plain weird. But if I was talking about a person I wanted to get to know, I would do most of the above things in trying to learn more about them (though the listening to teachings and worshipping part would maybe be a little odd, so let’s just call those a part of the reverence that goes along with serving a hero or ruler).
So, now that I’ve explained my beliefs a little, how do they relate to development?
Well, both well-meant and misguided efforts by Christians over the past few centuries have led to a lot of development and aid workers feeling that religion is best left out of it all. However, there was much good done as well that seems to be overshadowed and forgotten about. In fact, certain exemplary Christian development and aid workers have inspired me to enter this field of study and hopefully, future career.
There are many who have become rather famous – such as Jim & Elisabeth Elliot, George Mueller, and Hudson Taylor. However, the one missionary that stands out in my mind as the biggest influence is a lady who grew up on the Ontario Peninsula – and for the life of me, I cannot remember her name. But her name is not the most important part of her story. The important part is this: she felt called to Africa, went to a Christian school and eventually, after struggling through school, family issues, and illnesses, she arrived. She made the community her home and stayed there until she died – influencing the local people by living among them, learning their language and culture, helping them when they got sick, ensuring children got to go to school, and essentially, loving the people around her. As she grew older and became ill, her village friends told her to go back to North America to get better medical attention or die with her family, but she refused, telling them that they were her family and she would remain with them.
That kind of love is what inspires me to help others. That kind of love is how I want to spend my life – having been given so many opportunities simply because of the family I was born into; I want to spread my knowledge and skills to others, so that more people can break the cycle of poverty.
Anyhow – back to faith and development – faith is an integral part of me, and inspires my desire to work in development. If you have managed to follow along with my rambling through this long post, would you mind sharing your inspiration? What do you think about religion and faith? What has led you to your current goals and aspirations? Do you feel that your faith or religion (if you have one) has contributed to forming these desires?
Oh, and by the way – just because I believe in a God doesn’t mean that I have all the answers or fit into those oh-so-cute boxes of Christian stereotypes – try me, you might be surprised at some of my points of view!
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.