As always at international events, some personal conversations between meetings stay with you. At one coffee break, a delegate from Zimbabwe shared with me about the dire situation in his country. Sadly, I have read (like you) the news stories and seen the horrors of economic misery through hyper-inflation and also the violence.
He showed me a brown fifty billion dollar note - the same size as a $10 bill it has 50000000000 dollars stamped on it, with an issue date of May 15th 2008 and a final date: on or before 31st. December 2008. I asked him what it would buy. He replied that when he left Zimbabwe he needed two or three of these notes to buy a single loaf of bread!
I exchanged some US dollars for this one note - he was embarrassedly grateful. Honestly, I was just embarrassed! I had become a billionaire. He said how he and his family are so often hungry and how staying at the hotel for the Baptist meetings, and enjoying the plentiful food, was going to spoil him for his imminent return home. Face-to-face encounters like this hit hard. I promised to keep this banknote in front of me to focus prayer and the need to keep giving. ( I have since learned that the country's Finance Minister has commanded that 10 zeroes be deducted from the currency).
How fortunate are we who live in the West. And how God's commands for justice and compassion should keep hitting home.... if we let them.