Glenn took the car to work today, so I had the opportunity to walk to my chiropractor’s office which I’d not done before. It was a lovely, warm, sunny day and the half-hour walk each way gave me lots of time to think and pray. The Alameda Food Bank was on my route and I stopped in to find out about volunteer opportunities, which gave me even more to think about…
Only Jesus can save the world. Issues like global poverty and hunger and the horrifying realities of human trafficking are overwhelming and one person alone, even hundreds of people together, cannot possibly fix those things. For years my “heart would go out” when I’d hear about hardships (and worse) both locally and around the globe, but I did very little. I was too busy trying to survive what I felt was a fairly challenging life. Now, those challenges were real, but in hindsight it would have done me (and my family) a world of good to put some action to the compassion. I suspect the challenges at home might not have seemed quite so overwhelming if had we had helped feed the homeless once a month, or done some community service projects together. No matter what challenges we are or aren’t facing, I think the overwhelm of global issues makes it feel like whatever small contribution we make would only be a drop in the bucket and so it’s easy to allow the tyranny of the urgent to get the better of us. It certainly was for me.
However, last year something shifted in me as I attended the Freedom Summit about 25 miles down the I-880 in Fremont. I heard stories about human trafficking (both locally and around the world) and about global poverty; about how I could make small changes that would make big changes across the globe and locally when joined with small changes made by others. Suddenly I was AWARE (remember the “A” in FAT??) and couldn’t not know what I now knew.
But it IS overwhelming, the needs are so great. What if we all started small, with whatever “FATness” we had, and did SOMETHING…anything…and did it regularly? Each simple act would join with the other simple acts and they would all add up to big changes across our globe as well as at home. Some of us are able to do more than others. I can’t, for numerous reasons, go to India and work to rescue young girls out of brothels. I can, however, donate monthly to the International Justice Mission (IJM), receive their newsletter, and pray for the work being done to stop trafficking locally and abroad; I can’t go to Africa and drill wells to bring villages clean drinking water, but I can stop drinking tea and wine and soda and coffee for periods of time and then donate money to those who CAN do the drilling in Africa. And those are just two examples.
During this Lenten season, I’m asking God to increase my awareness of what the needs are and to show me what I can do. (My encounter with the Food Bank today was definitely an answer to prayer!) It is my fervent belief that each of us is able to do something, we just need to take a little time to figure out what that something is, and then do it.
Need some ideas to prime the pump?
• Get the small-enough-to-fit-in-your-purse/briefcase/pocket Better World Shopping Guide and visit the Better World Shopper website for additional and updated info. This might be the EASIEST thing to do. If we all made a conscious decision about the products we buy and the companies we support, there would be HUGE changes worldwide. After hearing the creator of Better World Shopper speak at the Freedom Summit, I’ve made changes in where I buy groceries, which airlines I fly, what cleaning products to use, even which chocolate to eat (child labor is used in most “big brand” chocolate…did you know that? I didn’t either!) Yes, some of these choices mean spending a bit more money, but I would rather eat pricier chocolate less often and know my money isn’t going to support child labor.
• Between now and Easter, drink only water and then send the money you saved by not buying lattes, or soda, or wine (or whatever) to Living Water International or Blood Water Mission, organizations that work to bring clean water to areas of the world who need it most. (I did this last year…it was easier than I thought! So I’m doing it this year, too.)
• Fast one meal a day (or every other day, or…) until Easter and give the money you save to your local food bank.
• After Lent, perhaps fast one day a week (or a couple of meals a week) and donate the money to your food bank, so it will be an on-going part of your life. I’m wanting to do this…we could join forces!
• Volunteer a few hours a week at the same food bank. They usually need more hands to load up bags and boxes for distribution. Some might even need a person to sit at the front desk for a few hours to answer the phones and welcome people.
• Sign up to sponsor a child through Compassion International. For $38 a month, you’ll be providing a needy child with care for body, soul, heart, mind, and spirit. It’s super easy, and everything can be done online now, including writing letters and sending pictures to your child. (I recently sent my first letter to Elizabeth in Guatemala with pictures of Glenn, Dweezil, and me…I’m super excited about this!)
• Do what Ann Voskamp suggested on her blog today — go HERE to find out. It’s simple, costs $10 one time, and will be a reminder to pray for oppressed females all over the globe. (I ordered mine today…LET’S JOIN FORCES!!) (Credit to Ann for the banner at the top of this post!)
Tonight as I thanked God for my plate of rice and beans and a chicken thigh, I thought about all the people around the globe who don’t get even that amount to eat in a day, let alone a meal. And I prayed that my meager efforts during this season will make a difference in some of their lives, and that I would continue in some way to stay in solidarity with them long after Lent is over.
And if these pixels help any of you make a few changes? Together we’ll change the world.