We’ve all been there, right? We have a needy child or spouse [well, I don’t, but you might], a needy boss or neighbor [ok, I might be the needy neighbor]. We feel needy when we think we’re neglected. We need new technology, just the right outfit, a long overdue manicure, the bigger house that suits our idea of success.
We are needy, needy people.
Except, we’re not. Even in this economy, most people reading this have a roof over their head, food in their fridge and clothes on their backs. At the very least, you’re in a place that has a computer and internet access. Which means we are spoiled rotten rich.
This isn’t one of those “guilt you into appreciating your life” posts. I swear. It’s just a reality check post.
Tonight on Twitter @machroi posted this: “The poor aren’t on earth for us to think, ‘Phew, how blessed am I that it’s not me.’” I’ve got to tell you, it hit me in the gut. I am the first to tell you I realize how blessed I am. I have everything I could possibly need and then some, despite my health and disability status. There are so many who struggle more than me.
Phew. How blessed I am it’s not me.
Ugh. Instead of making that statement, I should be asking a question. What am I doing about all those who aren’t me? Those who don’t have family and friends and disability payments. It’s not enough to be grateful and go about my business…
This coming Sunday, my friend Matthew is going to be traveling to Uganda for World Vision. I love his heart and we are so lucky that we can take this trip with him… read his stories, see his pictures, get a real view of the need and what we can do to help. You’ll notice on the left-hand side of my blog there are two buttons you can put on your site to help promote his trip and open more eyes to the needs of these kids. Just copy the code in the box and paste it onto your own sidebars… they will connect people to his blog posts about the trip. It will be life changing for him, for us who read, and for so many kids who need us to listen, and then speak out.
I’m including a post of Matthew’s below so you can get more of a feel for what he’ll be doing.
There was a time when it was easy for me to look at pictures of children in need and become numb. Honestly, just writing that sentence makes me want to vomit. But for me, that's often been the case. Perhaps I'm the only one who's sometimes guilty of letting his "spiritual gift for cynicism" break into areas where cynicism is unwelcomed or incorrect or unhelpful.
But I doubt I'm alone.
We're inundated with pictures of little faces similar to that of Janet's. And because we've seen so many pictures and seen the commercials on television and heard everybody from Third Day to Bebo Norman to Margaret Becker to Amy Grant to many others stand on stages and speak about organizations like World Vision and Compassion International, maybe our numbness to the pictures is understandable.
But when the organization is reputable and good, which I know firsthand World Vision and Compassion International to be, every one of those pictures that we are numb to aren't simply ads or ways to generate collateral or cute/sad/curious/emotionless faces hoping to win our good graces...
Each of those little faces are souls.
Like you and me.
Souls like Elias who I love and call my own.
Souls like my wife, pastor, and friends who I'd do anything in the world for.
The picture above is Janet, one of the needy souls from Uganda.
Jessica and I sponsor three souls: Carlos (from Nicaragua who's struggling through those awkward middle school years. I've had the pleasure of meeting Carlos, and actually wrote a little about that experience in Relearning Jesus), Shilpi (from Bangladesh who is almost 11 and has grown like a foot since we first began sponsoring her. She also shares a birthday with Jessica.), and Maya (from India who is 8 and has sent us many beautiful pictures that she has colored for us).
And because of Carlos, Shilpi, and Maya, I no longer look at the photographs on the cover of World Vision packets the same as I once did.
When Jessica and I got married in 2004, one of our goals as a couple was to live simply and to use what we have to serve other people in various capacities. Some months/years we have done that well; other times we've failed miserably. But so far, by the grace of God, we've managed to always somehow find our way back to that original goal.
While Carlos, Shilpi, and Maya don't in anyway represent "fulfillment" of that goal to us, they are a part of it--and a very significant part. Why? Because it's often their faces and letters and stories and the coloring pictures they send us that remind us of our prayer for simplicity and service.
Pursuing that prayer isn't always easy.
As some of you know, 2008 and much of 2009 were financially difficult years for Jessica and me. No threat of homelessness or somebody coming and taking our car away; however we experienced several months in that time frame when we wondered how on earth we were going to pay our mortgage or electric bill or for another can of Elias's formula.
While Jessica and I never mentioned this aloud to each other, I'd be lying if I didn't say that, on occasion, I wondered if we should de-sponsor Carlos or Shilpi or Maya. Selfish, I know. But thankfully, we didn't do that. Instead, we started thinking of ways we wasted money: so we dropped cable (haven't had it since), stopped eating out (and only rarely do it now), stopped daily trips to Starbucks (I might go once a week now), and we decided to keep Elias home a day or two a week to save on daycare. Also, Jessica began clipping coupons and began reading bargain blogs to learn new/better ways to save money; she also started using things like Swagbucks. It was still hard some months. But somehow it worked...
And I can't help but believe that once again God used the faces, stories, letters, and coloring pictures of Carlos, Shilpi, and Maya to help Jessica and I experience a more profound (harder perhaps) answer to our prayer to live even simpler...
Jessica and I know that our financial support helps Carlos, Shilpi, and Maya.
But it also helps Jessica and me.
Though I would never suggest that this is true for everybody, I do believe that, as much as Carlos, Shilpi, and Maya need us... we also need them.
Because like Janet, I am a needy soul...
And perhaps you are, too...
The little faces from Uganda that you will see when you click on the link below are all souls who need help on some level. And you're a needy soul who needs to help them...
Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision wrote these words in his book The Hole in Our Gospel:
“Proclaiming the whole gospel, then, means much more than evangelism in the hopes that people will hear and respond to the good news of salvation by faith in Christ. It also encompasses tangible compassion for the sick and the poor as well as biblical justice, efforts to right the wrongs that are so prevalent in our world…The whole gospel is truly good news for the poor, and it is the foundation for a social revolution that has the power to change the world.”
Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read about this… if you want to follow Matthew’s journey next week, click on the button below, or the buttons on my sidebar anytime.