Or, at least, thats what Duane Shank at God's Politics says happened.
I love the fact that we can get unwanted or "unsellable" goods from America to other countries around the world that definitely NEED perfectly good (and well constructed!) clothing. This is of course, nothing new. Captitalism has been doing a great job shuffling our unwanted stuff out to other countries.
When I went on a mission trip with the Auburn Wesley Foundation to Tanzania, Africa we built houses for Habitat for Humanity. While we were there we tried our best to engage the local culture through spending time with locals and eating/drinking the local fare. In Tanzania - you'll find coca-cola manufacturers have re-used the old glass bottle factories to distribute their products. One such product is Tangawizi (well, Tanzanians call it that, Kenyans call it "a stoney" - anyway - it only comes in glass bottles because somehow all the equipment for large scale distribution of glass bottles ended up in Tanzania. Very smart move, Coca-Cola.*
Another interesting thing about Tanzania is while out and about we saw a LOT of Eminem t-shirts! They said all kinds of crazy things. Now, I could have tracked every Tanzanian down and asked if they were a big Eminem fan, but I didn't. Instead, we were told that clothing manufacturers will take unwanted merchandise, vacuum pack it, ship it off to Africa, and make a small return on it rather than storing it in warehouses or destroying it. One can only assume it was either a cost-saving venture or a tax break.* Our team also found one unfortunate Tanzanian wearing an Auburn shirt - to which we all yelled "War Eagle!" and scared the day-lights out of him. Let it be known, if you find your team/artist/company well represented in a third world country - thats a bad sign as far as capitalism is concerned.
While I think its a great thing, like I said at the beginning of the post, that people who need clothes are receiving clothes, I would also like to point out that for Christians, giving to God is not an afterthought to avoid costs. It is instead our first fruits God asks from us. We do it out of love for God and love of neighbor.
If I can prime you a bit for Lent, think of it this way... there are many Christians who will give up sweets for Lent. If you ask them why, the'll mumble something about its what you are supposed to do for lent AND (they'll perk up at this point) "I'll lose weight too!" What if I gave up something that didn't benefit me in any other way other than bring me closer to Jesus?
Giving at all is good. Giving because your heart is right with God is even better. You can, with our God, have your cake and eat it too. Thats one of the amazing things about our God - when you give the best, you discover you also receive the best. (which, by itself, is not exactly the best reason for giving either.)
* This is, after all, only speculation. I don't have any evidence to support such a theory, help a brother out?
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