My summer reading blitz has begun, and nearly first on the list was Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time. It’s been sitting on my shelf for about 18 months, despite good reviews from the members of my book club. I gave it to my sister-in-law for her birthday, and now that she’s read it, I finally bumped it to the top of my list!
What an amazing story! Back in the 90’s Greg Mortenson, a part-time mountain climber from the US, was rescued by Pakistani villagers after a failed attempt to summit K2. His hasty, gut response to their help and kindness is to promise the village a school building—a near impossibility considering his part-time nurse’s salary, precarious personal finances, and seat-of-the-pants approach to life. Once back in the US, Mortenson makes an unlikely connection with a wealthy benefactor who finances the first school project. Mortenson returns to Pakistan, to enthusiastic communities who are anxious for his help and grateful for his friendship and partnership. He builds that first school, continues working, and, to date, he and his Central Asia Institute have built 78 schools for children (including girls!) in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
While the book shows that it does take a special kind of impulsive/borderline irresponsible person to (almost) climb a mountain, start a school with no money, and marry one’s soulmate after knowing her for 6 days (all of which Mortenson did), it also shows, remarkably, that (with the help of God, I think) things can work out to great results! Mortenson’s not a religious person, but his life bears testimony to the “godly wisdom is foolishness to the world” perspective. How anyone with his meager resources could be successful in this enormous endeavor makes no sense…and yet his work continues, in abundance.
I’m thankful today that there are people like Greg Mortenson whom God has chosen to get the real work of peace-making done. And I’m thankful that his efforts will reap the further benefit of giving otherwise disadvantaged and undereducated children in Pakistan and Afghanistan an alternative to terrorism. I’m thankful that he and his work are blooming in the unlikely place where he was planted—the rest of us should be so inspired.