When I was teaching, I used my made up idea of The Ethiopia Concept to prompt the students to concentrate on three different questions: Have you been to Ethiopia? Do you know anyone in Ethiopia? Do you know where Ethiopia is?
Then most of my students missed out on the first two questions. None had been to Ethiopia and no one knew anyone in Ethiopia. Then I asked my students where Ethiopia was. Most knew: Africa.
Then I posed this question to them: When you see starving children on television and they are victims of the famine in Ethiopia, do you feel sorry for them? Do you hurt for them?
Of course the answers all across the room are “Yes!”
Next I asked them another question: “Why? None of you have been to Ethiopia. None of you know anyone in Ethiopia, but most of you know where Ethiopia is. Why do you feel sorry for them?”
They give me several answers: Because they are hungry and hurting. Because they are helpless. Because they are little children. After an array of answers, finally one student would answer: “Because they are human beings?”
That was it … the one fact alone, because they are human beings, is reason enough to reach out to them.
Too long there have been those that say: “Well, we can’t feed the world … we need to think about home.” But in reality, would most of those people go out of their way to feed someone in hometown America who needs help? Would they volunteer in a homeless shelter or mission to feed hungry and needy people?
Mother Teresa called this reaching out in Christ’s name The Jericho Principal. She was an expert on this principal. It was on the road to Jericho where the story of the Good Samaritan took place. The Samaritan stopped to help the Jewish man who had been beaten up by robbers and left to die. Two others passed, one even a priest, and refused to stop. But the Samaritan whose ancestors had traditionally been enemies of the Jews, stopped to help the wounded man, took him to town and paid money to have the local innkeeper see after him until he got better.
Mother Teresa said that we all have our Jerichos everywhere. It may be in a schoolroom, someone down the street or a nearby neighbor, an elderly relative, a young family struggling to make ends meet … it may be someone in prison or it may be in some slum-decorated street in the heart of Calcutta. We all have Jerichos in our life. These are areas of need where people must reach out in the name of Jesus.
Mother Teresa often said that we just have to have the eyes to see our own personal Jerichos and she used her actions to back up her words.
The Scriptures read: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40)
Reaching out in Jesus’ name is our go-ahead to act on those words.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: