“Seize the passion of young people”

The Springfield Republican has an article about my new book, Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century.

Zink worked in a community called Itipini—the means “at the dump”–a shantytown community built on the site of a garbage dump. “It was built there so people could scavenge off the refuse and live in shacks they built themselves out of whatever is available,” he said. “As you can imagine, the socio-economic indicators here at not great—a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, for instance, high unemployment, high rates of poverty. So it is one of the poorest communities in one of the poorest parts of South Africa.”

At first, the experience was overwhelming to him because of the different culture, different language, different people. “I had shown up with such enthusiasm to ‘save the world’ and quickly realized I wasn’t much help at all,” he said. “It was a frustrating, difficult, challenging and completely humbling experience. Here were people in such great need, people I wanted so desperately to be of some use to, and I could barely say hello to them or ask them their name.”

Over time—and this was the advantage of staying two years—he learned their language, Xhosa. He learned how he could fit in and be of use to people, and he learned that the experience wasn’t so much about what he could do for others but about what they could learn from one another and how they could change in light of their meeting.

“I don’t think I’m alone in having my desire to see change in the world,” said Zink, 29. “I think people of my generation are eager to serve others.”

Read the whole article, read the first two chapters of the book for free online, and then tell your friends and order a copy of the book for yourself—from your favourite book retailer or (for the cheapest price) directly from the publisher.

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