I have always been somewhat ignorant. Not necessarily on purpose.
If you know me, I’m the type of person who looks away… the type who never watches a sad movie or the type who refuses to look at the site of a car accident… The type that would simply rather not know the hard stuff because it would be beyond what I could bear. “I can’t handle it”, is often my excuse
It all started about a month ago. I travelled up to northern California to see my friend Moriah, who had just gotten back from a 2-year long missions trip in Africa serving on a hospital ship. And while I always knew where she was and the gist of what she was doing, I never really understood the depth of the poverty amidst the community she was serving.
The day of her “Welcome Home” party, I learned many new things. I saw photos of people and places that I couldn’t have imagined. It spurred me on to learn more about the third world countries we so often forget are there… I began reading articles and books. I needed to know how real this stuff is.
I learned that there is an insane amount of people with tumors the size of basketballs on their faces that threaten to suffocate them. There are children with dangerous & painful facial deformities that doom them to marginalization, even as little kiddos. There are men and women with severe malnourishment that causes a terminal shutdown of all bodily organs.
I learned that, in Africa specifically, 1 in 12 women dies of childbirth. Around the world 30,000 children die every single day for lack of food. AIDS and HIV infest entire populations due to lack of sanitization and education… Villages on the outskirts of Uganda are filled with toddlers who are literally fending for themselves and have no one to take care of them.
Why, in 2014, are people dying from completely preventable causes like benign tumors… polluted water… starvation?
I think about my baby boy, who is only six months old right now. He has such a sweet and precious soul… his world is so joyful and innocent… he is kissed, hugged, smiled at & snuggled with all day long. As a new mother, my heart truly aches when I think about all the other children in the world, just like Joshua, who do not have anyone to love them… to fight for them. These statistics are not just statistics… they are real people; people just like you and I, with hopes and dreams. People who God loves and calls beautiful. I look at their precious faces and think, “that’s someone’s child… that’s God’s child.”
Image: UN Radio
Why is it that we can sit in the comfort of our air-conditioned living rooms while men, women and children all over the world are scraping through trash and dirt for food and water?
Why is it that we can consume every material option that comes our way while an orphan is stripped of life’s basic dignities?
Why is it that I can enjoy pristine tap water whenever I want while millions of others are suffering through disease because the only water they have access to is filthy and polluted?
Why was I merely born into comfortable circumstances that granted me family, health, and an education, while another little girl is born into poverty, prostitution, and displacement?
It’s not difficult to see how horrifically imbalanced our world is. You take one look at it and know with all certainty, “this is NOT how God intended it to be.”
And this is how we know God wants to change it through us:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48
God did not promise that the world’s resources would be evenly divided… what he did say is that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. What we have been given is not our own. It belongs to God. And from God’s perspective, those who are given material riches are supposed to share with the poor… everywhere I have looked in the bible, people who follow God are instructed (not asked) to give what they have to those in need.
How have I lived so long without truly living this out?
Recently, God has been placing it on my heart to start acting. Not just talk about change, but really start to walk in it.
My husband and I are discussing ways to serve within our own community here and, furthermore, head oversees at some point for a solid chunk of time. We haven’t figured out the nitty gritty of it and how it’ll work with a child, but we know that if God wills it, we will see it through.
It may be overwhelming to think about these things or to know where to start in terms of serving. To make it easier for myself (& hopefully even for you), here’s a personal list I’ve come up with for ways to start moving:
- Pray– Keep a list of tangible people and places to pray for.
- Support Financially– Stay informed about what’s happening and choose wisely about places to give.
- Raise Awareness– share with others what you’ve learned & how they can actively participate (this is, afterall, how I began my journey).
- Short-Term OR Long-Term Missions
- Poverty in our backyard- Keep your eyes open to the poverty and pain of people right here in our very own communities. You do not need to go oversees to bless those in need and bring Jesus to the lost and/or materially poor.
“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”- Katie Davis