Twelve hours into my bus ride home, the time spent at the Faith and International Development Conference seems like a long time ago. However, no matter how far I go, there are some lessons that I want to hold close to my heart. The last day had two such moments:
Dr. Michael Woolcock is a researcher at the World Bank who spends his spare time lecturing at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As far as development goes, that’s pretty much the pinnacle of success. Standing in the college chapel, he confessed, in his soft spoken Australian accent, the honour it was to be invited to a conference themed “Healthy Humility”, as the institutions he represented didn’t particularly epitomise that virtue. Michael went on to share the incredible series of circumstances that took him from being a physical education major to working at the Bank. He cited the example of a boy recorded in the book of John– this boy gave his lunch to Jesus, and Jesus multiplied the food to feed over five thousand people. Michael confessed that all along, the task was simple; give everything to God, and let him do the miracles. He continued by talking about his own Dad, a university professor whose body is now wracked with disease. With tears in his eyes, this extremely important man told us: “Unable to speak or move, what is my Father’s task? It is the same, to give everything to God, and let him do as he wishes”.
The room was silent as we took in the magnitude of what he was saying. True humility comes from giving up power and privilege; this is where God works.
An hour later, Ravi Jayakaran ended the conference by telling us his own story: going from a nationally renowned expert in animal husbandry to an international advocate for the expertise of the poor themselves. He used to be so important that the poor wouldn’t dare talk to him, until one day someone did. A man approached Ravi and told him that all his work was useless. The truth of this man’s words cut Ravi so much that from that day onwards he became a leaner, not a teacher.
The gentle humility of these two extremely accomplished men inspiring and challenging. They both cited the example of Jesus, who was God’s but became a human, as the driving force behind their attitude.
As much as I wish I could return from this conference bursting with new ideas and strategies, instead I find myself humbled, quieted. I am reminded mostly of my powerlessness, the futility of trying to affect my own change.
This strikes chord with me. The last months have been spent worrying about the future, scared that I wouldn’t ever amount to anything. But humility is ultimately comforting; I don’t need to amount to anything. All I can do is give what I have, and let God do the miracles.
Such a privilege to have spent the weekend in Michigan. I would love for you to be a part of the conversation as I process all that I’ve learned! What piqued your curiosity? Anyone you want to hear more about? You can even check the conference schedule and ask about the speakers I haven’t mentioned!