Friday, 5 April 2013

Will You Make a Difference in the Lives of the Poor?


I have always known that as Christians we are supposed to care for people who are hungry, poor, sick, widowed.... but until recently that knowledge didn't have much effect on my life.  I had this idea that I only had to help if someone crossed my path. I'm not that likely to encounter those struggling with poverty, persecution, untreated illness, hunger, or war - so thinking this way, even subconsciously, was a pretty easy way out.  However, Jesus says:
Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." (Matthew 25:34-36)
Photo from Compassion Intl.
Take in these numbers for a moment.  Try and picture the actual number of people represented by these numbers:
  • 26, 575 children die EVERY DAY of largely preventable causes related to their poverty.
  • 9 MILLION people die each year due to hunger or related causes.
  • Many underdeveloped countries have unemployment rates as high as 75%!
  • Approx 2 million CHILDREN are part of the growing commercial sex trade.
  • In 2010 there were 42 different conflicts being waged around the world.
    (All references from The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, 2010)
Are these numbers upsetting?  They should be!  We should be moved to love and compassion for those involved.  We should be outraged at those who perpetrate crimes that are involved in causing this suffering.  This is a horrendous tragedy and certainly worth more than a passing thought every now and again.   By now you're probably thinking: "I want to help - but how!?". 

First things first - get past the idea that just because you are one person you can't do anything.  One of the best things about the book The Hole in Our Gospel was reading about all the different people who made a difference simply by doing SOMETHING.  Don't let the scope of the problem paralyze you.

Secondly, consider what resources you have to give in these three areas: Time, Talent, and Treasure.  Don't just think of talent as something like "writing" or "singing", but all the life experiences that make up you - where you live, struggles you've gone through in the past, passions you have - those are all things that you can use in the fight against poverty.

Photo from Compassion Intl.
Thirdly,  I'm going to try and get your creative juices flowing by sharing some ideas our friends have implemented, and some we are planning to implement to help others in need and make ourselves and others more aware of the issues.
  • Get the word out in your social circle:
    • Write a blog post about the issues of poverty, health, or injustice. 
    • Share a post someone else has written. (Like this one!)
    • Start a "Simple Club" of friends to encourage and swap ideas about how to cut costs in your own life to help in the lives of others. 
  • Hang a world map up in your living room. 
    • Mark on the map where Christians are imprisoned.  Learn about the countries they are in and the laws which led to their persecution.  Pray for them.
    • When you hear about a natural disaster, look up where the country/city is on the map.  Pray for the people in that area.
    • If you sponsor a child, mark down on the map where they are from. Learn about their country, including the challenges their nation faces.  Write them letters and tell them about what you're doing.
  • Live more simply:
    • Eat rice and beans for a week for dinner.  Talk as a family about what it was like. Donate the money you save to an organization that helps those in poverty.
    • Set aside a certain percentage of your income to give to a charitable organization each month.
    • Sponsor a child through World Vision, Compassion, or another reputable organization.
So how will you use your time, treasure or talent?!  

If you've read this far, it would be great if you shared just one idea in the comments - and that can be your first step to inspiring others to do something too!

If this blog post inspires five people to give of their time, talent or treasure to help in the fight against poverty - and they each in turn inspire five people - and that happens five more times - that would mean over 15,000 people doing something new to help those in need!!

 

15 comments:

  1. I have knit blankets and hats to keep people warm in the cold. I hope they feel the blankets as a warm hug from afar to know that someone cares for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is such a great use of your skills Beth! Fantastic.

      Delete
  2. This is great. Here are some ideas from the Garcia's.We have sold some of our tresures and used the money to buy 2 and a half aids care kits. SOmething else we have been doing is using the envelope system for all of our money. An envelope each for groceries, gas, bills, hair cuts etc. At the end of the month if we have any money left in the envelopes we give it away. This way we really have to think when we are spending as to whether the purchase is needed or not because we know that if there is money left it goes to someone who probably needs it more than we do. Let me keep it real by clarifying that when we started this system of envelopes it was to stop us from OVERspending. :):) Excited to hear others ideas.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Canadians alone donate billions of dollars every year to religious organizations. It would only take $44 billion per year to eradicate world hunger. Just some food for thought (no pun intended).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Andrew and Stephanie,
    We are with you on this! We just received 3 folders on young children we will be corresponding with directly. It was a joy to open the pamphlets Compassion Int'l sent on eachchild and see their smiling face or their sad eyes, but we know loving in the name of Jesus will make a difference. Thank you, and we can pray together that the Lord will open hearts and minds to His service!! Blessings to you and yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so wonderful Jacqueline! Thanks for sharing that. We do need to keep praying - great reminder.

      Delete
  5. One more way you can help the orphaned is through adoption. We know families that have blessed many children with loving stable homes, and have seen their bright eyes as they show us their latest projects or discoveries.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike. You can follow us on Google + for updates (see sidebar).

      Delete
  7. A couple of weeks ago I went through the Voice of the Martyrs website and ordered 50 of the Prisoner Letter Writing Kits for our church. So far only a few have taken them, but this is a great way to get people praying and thinking about our imprisoned family in Christ. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing Sarah. I didn't know you could order those kits - I'll have to look into it!

      Delete
  8. For years my husband and I never gave above our tithe because we "didn't have the money" but our hearts became heavily convicted. God has blessed us in amazing ways after we started giving monetarily to other causes.

    Thank you for the blessing today. I'd love for you to link up with us @ Pin my post Friday. http://www.kmlogan.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, I have a passion for this! There is so much need in this world that is overlooked out of ignorance and busy-ness. Wonderful ideas to put action behind our words!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You say " I had this idea that I only had to help if someone crossed my path. I'm not that likely to encounter those struggling with poverty, persecution, untreated illness, hunger, or war", and you might be surprised how many people in our own community struggle with these! There is great need right here at home, and it could be right next door.

    Some thing that you can do that can make a huge difference in the lives of others, right here...
    Consider donating to a local foodbank, most also accept diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products as these can be very expensive for low income families. Many foodbanks run 'backpack programs' also as another huge need is school supplies. There are many low income families who struggle to provide necessary supplies for their new high school students, who are required to provide their own paper, binders, math sets, calculators, gym uniforms, etc, which will help them be academically successful.
    - consider volunteering your time at a community centre, or a youth drop in centre/shelter. Many of these youth experience extreme poverty or unsafe living conditions and they greatly benefit from positive adult attention and positive role models.
    - consider donating a monthly parking pass to a local hospital (cancer centre or NICU) for a struggling family. often having a chronically or terminally ill spouse or child results in huge expenses, loss of income, and financial stresses.
    - consider getting a voucher or a laundomat, and dropping it off at the closest school for a family who is struggling to eradicate headlice or bedbugs. This can be a very expensive endeavor for a low-income families and often these children experience lost education time and are centred out.
    - consider volunteering at your local YMCA immigration services or settlement offices. There are many new-comers to our country who are isolated and would benefit from being buddied up with a volunteer to help provide extra support and friendship while learning to acclimatize and navigate a new country and culture. There are just some of the needs in our own community that I have encountered lately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Andrea - so many great ideas! Thanks for sharing them here. You're right - there is much need right where we are.

      Stephanie

      Delete