I found this blog entitled Ali’s African Adventure some time ago and love the way this young woman writes. I have a link under “Extra Special” to her blog. She has a way of sharing her experiences as a pediatric nurse volunteering on a Mercy Ship in Africa that makes you feel like you can imagine being there.
Back in February she wrote a post entitled, I Am Blind. In it she talks about how she used to think of the poor. She thought about them as a mass, not individuals. She thought that what she could “do for them” was to bring them things they didn’t have. After living with them and working with them, it changed how she saw them and how she loved them.
It is easy to sit in our comfortable homes in the U.S. and shed a tear when we see those television ads for care organizations that feed and administer medical care to children in Africa or some other impoverished country. (I realize Africa is a continent, but I don’t know specifically which country in Africa those commercials are speaking of so I spoke generally.) We may even send in some money or sponsor a child. But, is that as far as our charity goes?
I know when we were in India I looked around at the poverty and lack of education and wondered what in the world you could do that would make a dent in the problem. A friend told me of watching the documentary Born Into Brothels. This photographer made a difference in eight children’s lives. She gave them cameras, taught them how to use them and marketed their photos which paid for them to go to boarding school, enabling them to change the course of their lives. You can see some of their photos here. There is also a book with some of the photos you can buy here. When I look at the people in these photos I find that I want to know their story. Who are they? What are their hopes and dreams? Do they even have any anymore? What do they NEED? Maybe the question is really, Who do they need?
I think what I am taking from all this is that we can make a difference, one person at a time. We just have to make the effort and not think of ourselves, but someone else. You don’t have to go to another country to find a person or child in need. You just have to be willing to sacrifice something – maybe it is your comfort, time, sensibilities, or money.
Here are some things Jesus said about helping those in need:
Matthew 25:34-40 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who 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 drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Luke 10:25- 37 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
There are a million ways we can “go, and do likewise” aren’t there?