Our last day at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, I listened to Mike Grainge give a talk on “Grace.” He said the “greatest act of grace” he’d ever seen was in Milawe, Africa, during a stint in the Peace Corps. (The abject poverty in Milawe is staggering.) Mr. Grainge said a beggar woman with a bowl approached another beggar woman — and gave her some of what she had in her bowl… We then stopped at Habitat for Humanity’s mock Third World Slum Village where we walked through a series of jammed together, tiny dwellings made of old wood and rusty corrugated tin. There was no glass in the windows, no running water, no electricity. The depiction of poverty here is staggering as well (even without the moans of children dying from malnutrition and no medicine). Coming out the Slum Village is a series of model homes that Habitat builds in different countries to help some people get out of these abysmal slums. One of the first I came across, was a nice, two-room, stone home Habitat builds in Milawe. The price: $2,000… We traveled further south to Albany, Georgia, where I gave a talk at St. Therese Church after Mass. The reading during Mass was from the book of Isaiah (58: 1-9). Part of the exhortation was to shelter the oppressed and the homeless. So I tried to connect some 2007 dots for the congregation on this reading. I said we’d just toured the Habitat Slum Village, then saw the new homes being built in Milawe. I then said social justice would demand that so many of us in America sacrifice the new Lexus with all the options for a used Volkswagon (bus pass, or bicyle…) and take the savings to finance homes in Milawe. I mean if you nix, say, the $30,000 car and go with a used $3,000 car (minus repairs, etc.), you’d still have enough money to finance some 10 to 14 homes for families in Milawe, Africa. Note: There is an ongoing debate about reparations to African Americans. My wife Liz just posed to me: “What about reparations to Africa as well?” That is, we stole part of their population, which has had major cultural, emotional and financial repercussions through the generations there. Wouldn’t building these Habitat African homes at least be a step in starting to make financial restitution… We say we are a country rooted in spiritual principle. Wouldn’t this demonstrate the acting out of some of that spiritual principle? I think so.