The first time I met Jeff, his face was behind a Nikon. He had just turned 17, he had long hair, converse high-tops, thrift store pants and a fedora (think Indiana Jones before he existed). Back then, he developed his photos at home in his mom's guest bathroom - black and white only. When I went away to college, he would send me 'postcards' which were letters written on the back of one of his black and whites with a stamp up in the corner.
Fast forward 38 years. (What? Wait a minute. We're not even that old!)
The other day he had the opportunity to sit behind a video camera and film the founder of a really big and successful sporting goods company tell about how that company got started. This man has it made in the world's eyes. Jeff said it felt pretty amazing to even be in the same room listening to him talk about the beginnings of an empire.
Now go back about four weeks. Jeff was behind the camera again - this time in a little town in Ethiopia just east of the Sudanese border.
Here he was taking pictures of destitute families for our newest ministry called Adoption Ministry 1:27 - after James 1:27 which says "Care for orphans and widows in their distress." Not one of these families included both a mom and a dad. All had children on the verge of being orphaned or who were at risk.
Their faces spoke volumes.
We hope to match each of these 60 families with a family here in the United States who will sponsor them. It was another sort of surreal moment when you stop and think about where he was and who he was with.
And the great contrast hit me. In the world's economy pyramid, Jeff was photographing those at the very top and those at the absolute bottom. A bazillionaire and those with n-o-t-h-i-n-g.
In God's eyes, they are exactly the same. But He does give us pretty specific instructions on how we're to treat and prioritize people.
Whoever is the least among you is the greatest. Luke 9:48
I tell you the truth - when you did it to one of the least of these you did it to Me. Matt. 25:40
I think by saying 'the least,' Jesus might have meant those who have nothing to offer me, nothing to make me feel important or honored. He said that these are really the greatest. And the real proof of my faith in Christ? Serving them. Meeting their needs.
So although it was a thrill to be a part of filming a very wealthy businessman telling how he'd risen to the top (Jeff said he seemed like a nice guy too), the real honor was to try to help the blind grandmother who was somehow raising her orphaned grandson. Or the desitute widow with four hungry children.
So why do I get bothered by the guy standing at the intersection with a cardboard sign and a dog? Do I think I'm better than he is??
It depends on where I'm standing.