Sometimes God tries to talk to us, and we ignore Him. So He tries harder to get our attention, and we continue to turn a blind eye. And then He gets ticked with us and makes it so glaringly obvious that we CAN’T ignore it anymore. That has happened to me. Over the past several months I’ve become convicted about something, and I wanted to share it with you in case you have been feeling the same way. If you are, then maybe my challenge at the end of this post is coming at just the right time.
It started back in September when Amy @ Permission to Peruse got a notion to start the Blood:Water Belt campaign to raise awareness and money for a charity organization which provides clean water for citizens of Africa. I immediately signed up and donated my $28 which enables 28 Africans to have clean water for a year. In return I took a picture of CootieGirl wearing the belt that started the project in the first place, and then passed along the belt to the next woman.
But the satisfaction with that donation was brief. Yes, I was happy to have done something that provided clean water for people in need, but I still felt like I could have done more. But I wasn’t sure what my next step should be. God was whispering to me, but I tried to stuff it down because I just didn’t want to address the nagging feeling I had.
A couple of weeks ago I started reading “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision, the organization which seeks to provide sponsorship for children in troubled, hurting nations. The first third of the book presents horrific fact after horrific fact about the suffering in the world. It’s just so tragic, and yet most of us choose to ignore it. Sure, we give to charities after disasters, or we donate food to a food bank at Thanksgiving, and toys to children at Christmas. But the day to day suffering – that’s what most of us ignore.
Well, it was upon finishing that first 1/3rd of the book when I went to the Compassion International website and promptly signed up to sponsor a child for the next year. It felt strange to sift through pictures and profiles of children, trying to decide which one to support. But I knew I’d know the child when I saw him/her. In the end, I felt led to choose a little girl in Uganda who is very close in age to CootieGirl. And before you ask, the reason I went to the Compassion website instead of World Vision is because I couldn’t access WV the day I felt called to sign up, and I wanted to sign up RIGHT THEN.
I felt such excitement at knowing I was finally answering that niggling heaviness in my heart. And yet…and yet…
Then last week I went to church and heard my pastor talk briefly about the trip he took to Burundi with 18 other church members (see the “Generous” sermon series). He spoke on the church’s need – no, the requirement – to help those who can’t help otherwise themselves. He spoke on how blessed we in America are (duh) and how most of the world is not (double duh). And so it was the following day that I went back to the World Vision website and sponsored ANOTHER child – this time a little boy in Burundi who was born the day after CootieBoy.
My grand total per month for sponsoring these two precious children will be less than $80. $80 a month to help two children who otherwise would go without. Even as I signed up I thought, “How am I going to come up with $80 every month?” Almost every dollar of our budget is spoken for. However, I know that God will bless every single one of those dollars to do good things for those kids, and that’s worth any minor financial hardship to sponsor them (and truly – whatever hardship we experience is minor compared to what those children are living with).
So, two children! A donation to Blood:Water Belt! Surely that was enough! I’ve given – I’ve done my part! But no. It still wasn’t enough.
And THEN I started listening to the audiobook for my book club called “Same Kind of Different As Me,” and dagnabit – the book was about helping those who can’t help themselves. Helping those who just need a helping hand to stand up, to move forward, to break free. Okay, God, seriously – I GET IT.
And so, after much prompting, and the realization that 2011 needs to be HUGE – I’ve decided to make all of 2011 the year of My Giving Campaign.
I live in a nice house, with nice clothes, a good car, and and a refrigerator full of food. I can buy toys for my children and spurge on going to the movies with my family from time to time. Why shouldn’t I give more? do more? As such, I’ve decided that in 2011, 50% of all money I earn from my freelancing work will go to charity – whether it’s buying shoes that I can donate to Samaritan’s Feet or buying groceries to donate to our local food bank. I don’t earn a lot of money doing freelance (maybe $2K or $3K a year), but I’ve challenged myself to give away half of whatever I DO earn from now through December 31, 2011.
I’m committing to fasting at least twice a month for a 24-hour period to remind myself of what people go through EVERY DAY, EVERY HOUR, EVERY MINUTE in countries like Haiti, Ghana and Burundi. Heck, even here in America our poorest citizens go hungry on a daily basis. Surely I can go a day without food in remembrance of those people, to continually remind myself that I have plenty, and others don’t, and that it’s not acceptable. That it’s time to end world hunger, that it’s time to say “enough is enough!” It’s a continuing reminder to be grateful for my blessings, and to pay them forward.
I’m also committing to be more conscious about the food I eat, while others are hungry. It’s so easy to head to my company’s cafeteria to get some hot chocolate in the morning. I’m not saying I’ll be perfect all the time in this goal, but I’m going to attempt to check myself in that regard. There’s no reason to spend $1.19 on hot chocolate 2-3x a week. And so whenever I feel tempted to have a snack, I’m going to put money in a jar. If I crave hot chocolate at work, on the days I skip temptation I’m putting that $1.20 I would have spent in a bank I’ll keep on my desk. And every now and again I’ll empty out that bank and buy groceries to take to the food bank here in town.
I also hope to donate my TIME in some way in 2011. I’ve contacted someone at my office who listed on my company’s Volunteering listserv a volunteer position here in my town. I don’t know if I’m qualified, but if I am, I’m up for it. It would only take up 8-12 hours a month, and I think it could be very rewarding in it’s own small way. I have also been feeling a burden over the past several months for an area near Rock Hill, SC that is severely challenged both economically and environmentally. The people there have NOTHING (not even running water). Those folks live a mere 30 minutes from my house and are in a completely different world. I’m hoping in 2011 that I can figure out a way to do something about it – even if it’s something small like cleaning up their streets of trash and taking it to the dump, or trying to organize a book donation drive to take books directly to the children in that area.
And so there it is. My mission for 2011. To stop being selfish, and help others. To stop ignoring the obvious desire God has for me – to get out there and DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. I’m feeling more and more convicted that being generous is a lot more important than getting out of debt by December 2011 (which has been an obsession of mine for the past couple of years). So what if it takes until June 2012 to get out of debt? Because in the next 12 months (well, 14 if you count Nov & Dec 2010) I hope to have an impact on a local, national and international level. And I’m hoping that I can challenge others to do the same.
And that’s where you come in. Have you gotten the feeling lately that a new chapter is destined to begin? That 2011 is gearing up to be an amazing year? Have you been seeing little signs that you need to do more, act more, give more? Then you, too, can be part of history! Even if you help just one person, you’ve helped the world. After giving to Blood:Water Mission, reading “Hole in the Gospel,” hearing my pastor speak, and listening to “Same Kind of Different As Me,” I firmly believe that. Help one person, help the world.
That’s my personal challenge for 2011. It’s the year of my own personal Giving Campaign. Who’s with me?
Coming up next: more about the children I’ve sponsored in Uganda and Burundi.