There is a word here in Amharic, the local language Ethiopia, one that has no equal in English. The closest word would be community, but the translation falls far short of explaining just how beautiful this concept is. The word is iggere. It does not even really sound right when written in English, it rolls off the tongue, it sounds beautiful.
Let me tell you what I learned about iggere and why it matters so much that we learn this at home.
An iggere is a neighborhood coming together to help those who are in it, it is the essence of love, the life of a people, who are choosing to work together. A iggere is like you and I would think of a community, but only organized and caring to no end. I don’t even really know how to describe it, when it has been explained to me it takes almost 15 minutes before I know what I am hearing about. Its because we just can’t imagine something like this in our culture, its different. More personal, more love like than anything I have ever heard of.
Almost every neighborhood in Ethiopia has an iggere, they are at times organized and have clear rules, others are more natural and only exist when the need arises. If your mother dies, the iggere will show up at your doorstep with food, and tables, and people to help clean your house. If you are getting married they will be there with chairs, and a tent to celebrate in, and people to help you celebrate this wonderful day in your life.
Each family that we will be putting together in our program will belong to the local iggere, they will be active participants, both giving and taking in this community, and thriving together with it.
I cannot even find words to describe how excited I get about this, it is just another example of the love of God flowing out towards these children and widows who need his love.
A iggere Is real Christian community in action, love like only God could author, moving in right where its needed.
Do you have an iggere in your city? Perhaps you should start one? Its a ministry unto itself, one that just might change everything.
This concept is inspiring to me, it hits dead on with one of the things that we lack in our culture back home. Ethiopia is teaching me so many things about community and what it means to show the love of the Father to another. We may have more money in America, but these people are so much more wealthy in so many other areas, things that really matter.
When you look real close at our culture in America and other developed countries, our money and power might actually be the thing that is dragging us down.
We have a lot to learn.