Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clooney and Engle

There is bad blood in Sudan.  For years, stories of abuse and enslavement have come from southern Sudan.  On Sunday a referendum began in southern Sudan, in which the citizens could choose become independent from the rest of the country.  The votes still aren't counted.  The people in the south of Sudan have been abused by the national leaders.  The people in north and south are different from each other.  In the north, they are lighter-skinned and Muslim.  In the south, they are mostly dark-skinned and animist or Christian.  Before the current abusive situation, there was genocide in Sudan, 1983-2005.

George Clooney is trying to change the world in Sudan.  He and other celebrities are working to get a commercial surveillance satellite orbiting the earth over south Sudan.  If the world can watch better, then the militant groups may behave better.  Not a bad idea.  Clooney believes it could prevent another genocide.

Closer to home, Charlie Engle was sentenced yesterday to 21 months in prison, convicted of real estate fraud.  Engle is an ultra-marathoner.  He ran across the entire Sahara Desert, raising awareness of the need for clean water in that region.  He teamed up with H20 Africa to raise money for wells. 

Prosecutors say that Engle obtained mortgages and second mortgages under false pretences and used the money to live on while undertaking his Sahara venture.  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.  He's a likable guy.  But before he was sentenced, he said that he had been "foolish enough to think that I could change the world." 

Is it foolish to think that?  Some of us really want to change the world.  Most of us don't have the power of celebrity or the endurance to run ultra-marathons.  But even ordinary folks can change the world. 

God uses ordinary people -- and sometimes famous people -- to change this world.  And when we let his Spirit empower the work, that's when unbelievable things happen.