Day 94: 26 February – Let’s Make a Movie!!!!

February 26, 2009

I know I have been quiet for a while, and I am sorry for that! Things have just been busy! But a good kind of busy. I am trying to get the word out, in as many ways as possible, that it is child abuse to allow children to live on the streets. A while back I wrote a book called Life Under the Table about my experiences (from the first few years of living in Cape Town) in working with the kids. I have posted it as a blog, for those of you that would like to read it just click on the title. While writing that book I was struck with a harsh conclusion: many stories I would like to tell would not fully be “understood” unless the reader has walked a long road with the individual. So if I told stories of hectic crime or drug abuse that the children partake in, I fear the reader might tend to feel negative feelings about the children, without truly understanding the fullness of the situation and reality with which they live. To remedy that, I decided to write a fictional series, based on a mixture of real experiences of real children, combined with my own imagination and story telling liberties.

The idea for the series is to focus on one “character”, tell the story from his point of view (taking him from his community to the streets to wherever his path takes him), and allow the reader to build a relationship with him, so that when he begins to participate in “questionable” behavior of street life, the reader is on “his side”. I have finished the first book of the series (though I have not approached publishers yet) and am working on the second. As I was writing the first book, which I titled Out of Manenberg, I often pictured it as a movie and dreamed about seeing it one day manifest itself in “film” form. I want to make a proper, great quality, feature length film of Out of Manenberg, and though I realize this is extremely ambitious, I know that dreams have to start somewhere. So I have decided to pursue this dream with a little more aggression and I am trying to raise funds to actually MAKE the movie! I have a very talented director friend who is excited and willing to work on the project. All we need is money.

I am trying to raise 1 Million Dollars, which sounds like tons of money but for a feature length film it is merely a drop in the bucket. I started a group on face book “I hope to find 1 million people willing to give 1 dollar each, to make a movie” and I opened a Pay Pal account so that people can give. If you are interested in giving you can click on the “donate” button on the right hand side of your screen or click here. If you want to give but do not wish to use Pay Pal feel free to contact me at capetownbrown@gmail.com. It only takes 1 dollar to become an executive producer of this film! Please help spread the word, even if you can’t give 1 dollar you can help by telling all your friends! As a little incentive, here is the first chapter of the book:

OUT OF MANENBERG – Chapter 1: Learning To Survive

I can’t sleep. Its nights like these where I lay and think. All of my shattered dreams, aspirations, and hopes, of what I could have done, of what I could have been, swirl around in my head like a raging storm. I lay here on this thin mattress with nothing to drown out my loud thoughts except for deafening silence and the sound of rats scratching around the prison floor. Yeah, I have had a rough life, but I truly have no one to blame but myself for the place I am in now. I had an opportunity to make it out of my life, that was destined to go nowhere, and then because of one stupid choice, I threw it all away. I will spend the rest of my life behind these walls, encaged within these bars. How did I get here? There’s no simple answer, but the best place to start is the beginning.

I was born in 1987 in Manenberg, a suburb of Cape Town that has a reputation for violence and gangsterism. I never knew my father, but from what I hear about him, I don’t really care to ever meet him. He lives far away or is dead by now. I don’t really care. I have three brothers and two sisters, all except for two are from different men. I am the oldest. My mom was as loving as she knew how to be. She also didn’t know her father. That’s because her mom was raped by a white police officer. She grew up during a hard time and the white people made it difficult for her to succeed. She had no education and she would try and drink away her problems with alcohol. She didn’t have a job but we never seemed to struggle too much for our basic needs. Well, that is if you consider water, sometimes food and shelter basic needs. Our neighbors would always give us rice and bread when we needed it.

I have always been a natural leader. I am small, but I learned how to use my mouth at a young age. I got into my fare share of trouble because of my mouth, but I also learned how to use it as a deadly weapon, when need be. I have also been in my fair share of fights, and though I am small, I am pretty tough. I remember my first fight. I was seven, and my brother, the second oldest, Andre was four. He came home one day screaming and blood was streaming down his face. Mom had sent him to the store to buy her a cigarette and on the way Melvin, one of the known troublemakers of our area, tried to take his money. Melvin was a thirteen-year-old bully and he got away with it because his older brother was one of the big shots in one of the prominent gangs in our area, the Hard Livings. When Melvin tried to take the money from Andre, my brother knew that the beating he would get from Melvin would not be nearly as bad as the one he would get from my mom if he returned home with no cigarette and no money, so he stood up to him. Melvin hit Andre so hard that he fell and busted his head open on the ground. Then Melvin sat on Andre and took the money from him.

I listened, as Andre stood there crying and bleeding all over the floor. After I had gotten the facts straight, I decided to go settle things with Melvin. No one messes with my little brother. I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I ran to confront Melvin. By the time I got to the shop, Melvin was standing there, smoking the cigarette that was supposed to be my mom’s and he was laughing and telling the story of how he had gotten it, to a group of about five of his friends. I felt a warm sensation all over my body and it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. Melvin was twice my size and known for his fighting abilities.

I picked up a brick that was lying on the ground and started for him. Before he knew it, I had jumped up onto him and I hit him on the forehead with the brick. As he fell to the ground, I landed on top of him. The brick fell out of my hands and bounced as it hit the ground. My arms went numb as I punched him in the face over and over again. I could feel my knuckles being shredded by his teeth but I could not stop myself. I had never felt that kind of rage before. His friends stood there in shock, not really knowing what to do. When I saw that he was unconscious, I stopped. There I sat, on top of bloody, unconscious Melvin, with a group of kids standing there in absolute shock. I slowly stood up and picked the brick back up, in case some of his friends got any bright ideas. I looked at them and I could tell that I had a wild look in my eyes that scared them; a look of a wild animal on the prowl, ready to devour his next prey. They all just stood there like statues. I announced, “You tell Melvin, when he wakes up, that if he EVER touches my brother again, I will finish what I started.” Pretty big words for a seven year old! But I had heard the older gangsters in our block of flats say things like that before.

Then I remembered my mom’s cigarette and I searched Melvin’s pocket and found a whole rand. I went into the shop and bought the cigarette for my mom and two sweets, one for me and one for Andre. I walked proudly back to my house. I felt a sense of power that I had never felt before. I felt like I ruled the neighborhood. I felt like I could take on a whole army if I had to. When I got back to my house, I gave my mom her cigarette and I gave Andre his sweet and I sat down and told him the whole story.

Fighting was a necessity in my neighborhood. Those who couldn’t fight for themselves, had to walk around with those who could both fight for them and for themselves. The gangs ruled the area and they preyed on the young boys. They recruited from a very young age. If you didn’t join a gang, you were in danger. At least if you were in a gang, you would only have the threat of the rival gang and the protection of your own along with it. If you were not in one, you would have to watch your back all the time for all of them. I hated them. I decided from a young age that I was never going to join a gang.

Andre’s dad was a gangster. He lived with us around that same time. The hatred that I had for that man is not describable with words. Every night, he would sit with his friends, in our kitchen, and smoke buttons until he could barely talk right. I hated him even more when he was in that state. He was an evil man most of the time, but when he was dik geroek , he would put the devil himself to shame. Sometimes he would even pass out right there on the floor. I preferred it when he would just kap om , which was only every now and then, because the other times, which was basically every night, he would end up beating my mom and then he would turn his attention on Andre. He hated Andre and always talked about how he was a “mistake”. He beat every bit of dignity and self-respect that was left in my mom, right out of her.

I remember her from a real young age. Even though it seems I was too young to remember things like that, I can still picture her beautiful face in my mind! I thought she was the most beautiful lady that had ever walked on the face of this earth. She was young, at the ripe age of 19, when I was born. When I was three she got with Andre’s dad and then everything went down hill from there. Their relationship was never that good but he only started really beating her like that when he found out she was pregnant with Andre. He blamed her for getting pregnant and some nights he would make her drink and drink to a dangerous point, to try and abort the baby. Some nights he would beat her and even hit and kick her on her stomach. I was young, and I would just sit there on the floor crying, but those pictures are still engraved in my mind.

When Andre was born, it got even worse. He beat my mom on a nightly basis. By the time Andre was three and I was six, my mom looked like a totally different person to the beautiful young lady that I once remembered. The beatings had added years onto her and she looked like a forty-year-old lady. She had also lost sight in her left eye from one of the more vicious beatings. Her eye was white and cloudy. Her skin was worn and looked like leather and her lips were always swollen. It broke my heart to even look at her because I loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. When I was eight years old, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I came in from playing with friends one night and I found my mom, bleeding and unconscious, on the floor. Then I heard Andre screaming in the back room and I could hear his dad beating him and telling him to shut his mouth. His words slurred together, as they often did when he was dik geroek.

I felt that same feeling that I did in that first fight with Melvin. By then I had gotten used to it because I had been in many more fights over the years. I picked up a screwdriver that was laying in the kitchen and I ran back to the back room. I stopped in the doorway and saw the bastard standing over Andre with his belt in his hands. Andre was curled up on the floor and was crying and pleading for him to stop. “Jou ma se poes kind! Jy’s net soos jou ma!” He continued to hit Andre, with the buckle part of the belt. I could not take it anymore. I felt a rush of rage and then everything turned black. I jumped on his back and stuck the screwdriver into the back of his neck and he immediately fell to the ground. He fell on top of my leg and I had to pull it out from under him to stand up. I went over to Andre and helped him sit up.

His eyes were swollen shut from the beatings and he was bleeding all over. I held him and told him that everything was going to be alright. My heart felt like it was ripped into a hundred pieces. I loved my brother more than anything or anyone else in the world, apart from my mom, and it killed me to see him like that. I started to cry and I sobbed like never before. We just sat there on the floor and I held Andre until he fell asleep in my arms. I was in shock and I just sat there, shaking, crying and I held Andre tight until I eventually fell asleep. I was awoken by a loud blood-curdling scream the next morning. My mom had woken up and came into the room and saw her man laying on the floor in a puddle of dried blood with a screw driver sticking out of the back of his neck. She picked me up and started shaking me, screaming, “What have you done?! What have you done?!” I searched deep within for words, but nothing came out.

She collapsed to the ground and held me tight in her arms and began to sob. I could see that she wasn’t crying because she was sad, but because she was actually relieved. Andre woke up and came over and we all sat there on the floor for hours. Time passed by slowly and we all just sat there and didn’t say a word. Looking back, strangely enough, that was the best time I ever spent with my mom. For the first time ever…maybe the only time…we felt like a real family. We sat there until the night and my mom finally went out to a friend’s house. A little bit later she returned with some men and they took away the body and we never heard anything about it again. The police didn’t get involved and there wasn’t even a funeral. Of course the word got out in the neighborhood, that I had killed a man, which only helped my reputation amongst the kids.

I had killed someone. I felt no remorse, no grief, but that wasn’t the thing that scared me. What really scared me was that I knew if I were put in the same situation again, I would do it over again. I had to protect my mom and my brother. They were all I had.

Advertisements

Take the Challenge!

February 25, 2009

Love Feedback Form

February 21, 2009
A church in Worcester (about an hour or so from Cape Town) has asked me to come on Sunday and speak on Love. They are doing a series on “love in action” type of a thing, and are trying to mobilize their church into being active and involved in seeing change come in their community, with the driving force of God’s love. So in preparation for my “sermon” I have really been meditating and pondering on what love really is, how it is supposed to be lived out, and questioning if we as the church really represent love in the way Jesus did, the way we are supposed to. In all my reading, writing, thinking, praying, scribbling, pondering and so on, I found myself stuck in a very cliché chapter of the Bible: 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

I feel like this chapter could serve as a “feedback form” (like one you would fill out at a restaurant or a shop that asks for your customer feedback) if we allowed it to. You see, as Christians, above all else, we are called to love. Jesus made that clear when He was asked about the most important commandment; to love God and to love others. But do we get caught up in our own agendas, our own programs (even though we are convinced they are “of God”), and our own pride, or are we really living, walking, breathing, LOVING examples of Jesus? As I said, I think 1 Corinthians chapter 13 holds the answer to that. We could read it and judge for ourselves but often we might not have a totally clear picture of who we are and how we represent ourselves and God to others. So better yet, we could create a “service provider feedback form” based on 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

All you have to do is replace the word “love” with your name, print out a bunch of forms, and hand them out to all your friends and family, Christian and Non, asking them to openly and honestly give their opinions and feedback; you might find they will be more honest if they are allowed to remain anonymous. The form could go as follows:

Love Service Provision of Ryan: Feedback form

Instructions: Please read the following statements, think carefully about the best answer and rate the validity in the statement from 1 to 10 (1 being “very much NOT true”, and 10 being “VERY much true”), pertaining to how you view Ryan.

Ryan is patient. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Ryan is kind. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not envious. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not boastful. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not arrogant. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not rude. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan does not insist on his own way. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not irritable. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan is not resentful. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ryan bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, & endures all things. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Please feel free to add additional comments about Ryan:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to fill out this form! Your feedback is important to Ryan!


Day 87: 19 February – FACT

February 19, 2009

No child should ever EVER be allowed to live on the streets for any reason what so ever, exclamation point!


If it Doesn’t Fit…

February 17, 2009

This post may come across as mean, seeing that you won’t be able to hear the loving tone that I am typing it in. So please try and hear my heart in this. I am not trying to be judgmental, or mean, or rude. But this is just something I have thought about for a while and want to get it out. Ok, so now that I have built it up so much, here goes…

It often seems that some Christians have a type of spiritual turrets in the form of a compulsion to throw in comments about God during conversations, even if those comments do not fit. Similar to that jigsaw puzzle piece that you want so badly to fit, but it just won’t, no matter how hard you smash it! Don’t get me wrong, I am all about speaking about God. I think He is great! I am speaking about Him right now. But I do not see the need to force Him into every single conversation I have, most especially when it would just be totally out of place and random.

I myself, being a Christian, have found it frustrating having conversations with people who do this, so I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be for a nonChristian. I asked one of my friends, who does not currently believe in God, what he thinks about it. He said, “I really hate it when Christians feel compelled to interject their conversations with a bunch of garbage, like I am supposed to be impressed.” Though those are strong sentiments, I can’t say that my feelings are far from them. I guess the reason for my detestation of this social habit is because to me it feels fake and forced. When people have a close connection with God, it shows in their lifestyles, it naturally comes up in their conversations, but I have found most of those people do not have to try and bring God up, He is just an every day, yet important, part of their life and therefore He naturally comes up in conversation when He needs to. But when a person makes a random comment about God, one that would be considered “stretching it” as a relevant response to what i had just said, that comment, and in turn person, tends to come off as phony.

I am talking about things like me asking someone how they are doing and they reply with “God is good!” Not only does that not answer my question but it is stating the obvious. If i ask you how you are doing i really want to know how you are doing! In speaking to nonbelievers, and also being one myself for quite large portion of my life, I find they often feel like Christians have ulterior motives in building relationships with them, and these ulterior motives manifest themselves through conversations. According to them, they feel like some Christians look for every opportunity to mention God, in an attempt to “minister” to them, but they see through it and are not impressed by it. My friend I mentioned before went on to say, “Christians seem to always feel like they need to convert me in these conversations. You know what, you interjecting God into conversations isn’t going to convert me. It is just going to annoy me.”

People are very clever! They can see through things pretty easily. Especially in this day and age, when people have such a hunger for reality; every other show on television is a reality show. When they are served anything less than reality, they reject in its lack of authenticity. I know the intentions of these Christians are good in trying to bring up God in every conversation, but we have to realize that the point is not to name drop and bible bash; that our lifestyles should reflect Jesus in a way that we need not mention Him in every other sentence. And then, when people can see that we are genuine and true in our relationship with them and God, conversations revolving around Him and them will probably happen. And if they don’t, we shouldn’t’t feel it is our inherent duty to force God into our conversations. We continue to live, love and let our actions speak louder than our hollow words. So I am asking nicely, if it doesn’t fit, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t force it!


My Daily Wages

February 14, 2009

Whether we like it or not, how we view sin impacts how we interact with the world, others around us living in the world, and even God Himself. But equally so, how we view God affects the way that we view sin, and our reasoning for attempting to stay away from it as much as possible, or indulging in it as we please. Let’s face it, for the most part, sin is fun! For the most part it feels great. And much of the time it is more pleasurable and “easy” to sin, than it is to abstain from it. We are carnal people and there is a carnal desire within us to feed that carnal hunger. The bible tells us that there is not one person, no not one, who is free from sin. It is also very obvious the destruction that sin, especially habitual sin, can bring to the life of an individual, and those around that individual.

I guess the way we view sin goes back to the conversation of our struggle in an attempt to serve a loving, caring, graceful God, and a God that calls us to live a life of holiness and righteous, that is set apart from the world. I often see how Christians go to one side or the other and lead people into lifestyles that are equally undesirable on both sides of the pole. Some Christians scare people into salvation by introducing them to a vengeful God, full of fury and ready to punish His children because of their sin. These people then enter into an impossible life of trying to please a God that calls for perfection in an imperfect world, and often find themselves enslaved in a life of legalism. Other Christians put more emphasis on the loving qualities of God, but do not meet that with His desire for his followers to stay pure. These people often find themselves living carefree lives, with no real boundaries in their lives, and with this relaxed attitude, they potentially move further away from God as time goes on.

I think it is important to have a Godly view of sin, and truly understand the reasoning behind Him creating a set of laws pertaining to it. Many people, especially nonChristians, view Christianity as a rigid way of life, bound by rules and regulations, and no fun what-so-ever. But when I look back to the time when God used Moses to introduce these laws, I do not see a God that wanted to bind His children up with law, but rather a God who saw the destruction that sin caused in their lives, the separation it caused between them and Him, and a loving desire to protect them from that. So these laws were not created to oppress people, but to protect them. However, we often use these very laws to judge, condemn and oppress people. To truly have a Godly view of sin, we first have to ascertain how we view God Himself. I like to compare it to different parenting styles.

A controlling parent who places strict, rigid rules and regulations for their child may feel like they are doing the loving thing by setting these standards of perfection and coming down with an iron fist when the child breaks those rules. It is true in fact children need boundaries. But if those strict boundaries are not met with grace, expressed love and healthy concern, the child will merely see those laws as the parent’s effort to “control” them. Often these children end up rebelling against the parent, or eventually get out in the “real world” where lax rules and regulations exist and struggle to make healthy and mature decisions for themselves. On the other side we see the laissez-faire parent who sets no rules and regulations for their children and allows them to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with the focus of “just trying to be the child’s friend” in mind. This relaxed, nonjudgmental, no boundary approach often also sets the child up for failure in the real world without a basis of basic rules and morals being taught to him. Though these children think their parents are “so cool” when they are young, they often have a deep, inset insecurity with the world and feel unsafe, having no boundaries and moral guidance. They are equally unprepared to go into the real world and, as adults, often end up resenting their parents.

Another form of parenting would be a healthy mixture of laying out expected morals and rules for the child and giving them a loving environment to make mistakes with loving, realistic consequences. It is a healthy combination of the parent expressing to the child, and living out an example, of the morals and lifestyles that they expect, but also knowing that the child will mess up, and being willing to be there to help lovingly pick up the pieces with them, when need be; the mixture of a set and expected standard of morality along with grace. I feel like this is the kind of parent we have in God. He has a set of morals and standards that he expects us to live up to, mostly for our own protection and the protection of those around us. But He is not waiting to come down hard on us for each and every mistake and He doesn’t want us to live a life that is bound up by legalism. He expects a lot out of us, but He is also more aware, more aware than we are, that we are imperfect creatures in an imperfect world, and we will in fact mess up on a daily basis, and He is waiting with open, loving arms when we come to that realization as well.

The problem with how we view God’s response to sin, and how we view sin is it affects how we act towards others, most especially those we perceive to be “living in sin”. If we recognize that we all sin, in one way or another, on a regular and daily basis, and though we should try to live a life of purity we will often fail, we would not get caught up in legalistic lifestyles, holding ourselves and others captive with the law. But equally, if we are aware of the truly destructive ramifications sin can have in the lives of individuals, and those around that individual, we would also not take sin so lightly. I feel that with a Godly view of sin, we are much more empowered to truly “love the sinner and hate the sin”, because our first instinct would not be to judge or condemn a person we see “living in sin”, but it would be to see the pain which that very sin can potentially cause in that individuals life, and act accordingly in love and compassion for that individual. I guess a huge problem is we often have that plank in our eye which warps our view of the tiny little splinter in someone else’s, which I see as even more reason to try and arrive at, and hold on to, a Godly view of sin.


What is the Meaning of Life?

February 11, 2009

I have stacks of facebook friends!! Around 1,111 at the moment. I would say i actually know 70 to 80% of them, and the rest are just random people who added me and I accepted. I try not to be a facebook snob so as long as the picture isn’t some girl in a bikini and soap suds, i pretty much add the person. Anyways, i occasionally have random contact with the 30 to 20% of facebook “friends” that i do not really know. Sometimes it is in the form of a message or a wall post, it is often in the form of an invitation for some weird application or another that i never add, and occasionally some stranger, yet “friend”, will interrupt my facebook session by chatting to me. This happened late one night about two weeks ago.

I don’t remember what time it was but it was late and i couldn’t sleep, so i got on facebook. I was just doing the usual facebook “thing” when all of the sudden a little chat box popped up on my screen. I did not recognize the name of the person chatting and thought it might end up being one of those spam chat messages. I looked at the text and it said, in all caps, “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?” I sat there with a weird “Am i Neo in the Matrix?” type feeling. You know that part in the beginning of the movie when he is on his computer and then his “computer” starts talking back to him? Yeah! I recalled all the things Neo went through after responding to his cryptic message late one night and i pondered whether i was up for such adventure. I decided i was still not very tired and didn’t really have anything better to do, so i responded.

I first wanted to make sure the dude was serious before i responded with some profound statement, so i asked, “Are you serious?”. Seconds later, again in all caps, his response came, “DEAD SERIOUS!”. Ok, now that i had established he was not joking around i had to be extra careful what i said to this guy that is obviously searching and reaching out. I sat there for a moment and really thought about it. What is the meaning of life? Wow! Good question! I responded, “My opinion, everybody’s different, and therefore find different meaning in different things and ways of life. For me it is to serve God and others, and make the biggest dent (of positive change) possible in the people and communities around me before i die.” That seemed to satisfy him and he sent back a very gracious message as to how he was encouraged by the statement and he thanked me.

That experience, mixed with the information in a book i am reading at the moment called UnChristian, really got me thinking about this whole “meaning of life” thing. We live in a world where people are truly looking for something meaningful in their lives: their “place”, their “purpose”, their greater calling, the very reason for their existence. And i do not think that this is a “want” within people, i believe that it is a deeply implanted NEED in each and every human being, and i also believe it was placed their by God. Sadly, I feel that often we as the church fail when it comes to an appropriate response to this need within people. We regularly meet this need with a shallow gospel that does not go beyond “Jesus saves” and rarely sees the person into a true discipleship. We meet this need with quirky phrases and “marketing tools” like tracts, that do not begin to scratch the surface of this deep and profound question within people. We meet their need for meaning by judging and condemning the things that they partake in in order to try and find meaning, and merely offer dead religion in return. We meet their need with a strict set of laws and tell them that there is “freedom in Christ”, but cannot see that we ourselves are bound.

Now, i am not trying to generalize and say that this is every Christian’s response to this question “what is the meaning of life”, but reading UnChristian (a book based on extensive research done about the perceptions of Christians and Christianity) i realise that those responses i just mentioned are the experiences and perceptions of a vast majority of nonChristians in America, and probably around the world. As Christians we should, more than anyone else, hold the answer to this important question, but we often do not know the answer ourselves, and therefore are not capable of answering the question when asked by others. I think it is vital that we all take a deep look within and ask that essential question to ourselves. What is the meaning of life? Is it to acquire as much wealth as possible, is it to serve yourself, is it to live by a rigid set of laws, is it to become the Pharisees of modern times? We have to be aware of the type of meaning that Jesus calls us to, really and truly seek it for ourselves and then we will be in the position to answer that question for others. If we ourselves do not live in a true way, finding the meaning that God intended for us, then any response we offer to a hurting, searching, and questioning world will be hollow and meaningless. We owe it to them to offer them more!