Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sticking, Part II

I have received a few questions regarding my last entry, and I think they are great questions. Mostly, they have to deal with this notion of “The end of the matter” which Solomon referred to when he said “The end of the matter is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride.” The questions go like this, “When is the end of any matter?” “How will you know when the matter is ended in Liberia?” “Does this mean you will be in West Africa forever?” I’ll venture a response.

When Solomon was referring to “the end of the matter,” I think he was speaking generally, not about any particular matter. Some endeavors, like fixing a flat tire or making a really good pizza (O, pizza!) require patience over a relatively short period, maybe a few hours or less. Other endeavors, like being a good husband or becoming spiritually mature, take a lifetime of patience and we never see the end of the matter while here. In between, there are all kinds of projects, tasks, and endeavors we may take up to advance justice and peace.

Regarding peacebuilding in Liberia, the principles are the same. Smaller projects or efforts, like developing curriculum, training others to be people helpers, creating a business development group, or digging a well, can be measured and the “end of the matter” relatively easily determined— albeit anything can be tweaked forever. This is the work Renita and I, and others like our brother-in-law Brian are engaged in during our time in Liberia. There will come a day when we will see “the end of the matter” as it relates to our efforts. We will know our work is completed when Liberians are using what we have brought in order to empower other Liberians. When that time comes, we will leave, knowing others will continue the work. Other efforts in Liberia, like reconciling conflicting factions, or overcoming the culture of corruption in the government are beyond the Reeds, and Liberians may patiently work for decades before seeing the “end of the matter.”

The peacebuilding work in Liberia, the United States, Canada, or anywhere else continues on and on until that Day when the One Who Brought us returns. In the meantime, we work toward “the end of the matter,” on many tasks, whether or not the task will end in our lifetimes. We do them because they are good to do, we do them because of what doing them does to us. So yes, while the Reeds will see the end of our work in Liberia, the work will not end, either for the Reeds or Liberians.

Hope that helps.