I think as humans, we can only handle so much information at once. It is easy to overlook suffering because there are so many people with so many different needs.
We get overloaded if we look at the numbers, like an estimated 153 million orphans worldwide (this number could be less; it is hard to estimate the actual number) or an estimated 146 million children in developing countries are underweight, which is the result of acute or chronic hunger.
My brother and I always rolled our eyes and joked that if the “starving children in Africa” were so hungry, they could have our broccoli and cauliflower, since we didn’t want it.
That was until we met some of those children. Children who had to take care of younger siblings and could not go to school. Children who had to carry wood in bundles on their backs so their family could cook food on a fire that morning. Children who were homeless and without parents, and who had to steal food to survive.
Once you see a child, face to face, who is hungry and who has no hope, the game changes.
It isn’t funny.
And the problem can’t be brushed aside like a bill that can be paid later in the week.
There is an immediate threat when your heart meets the heart of someone who is suffering.
If you let it, that threat can change the very fabric of your being. There is a phenomenon that happens when a person goes on a mission trip for the first time. And each time after the first. It is life changing when you experience poverty and destitution firsthand, and it stays with you. Hopefully forever.
However, you can still be changed even if you never leave your home.
When you learn that young mothers are forced into prostitution because they have no other way to provide for their children, you are changed.
When you learn that 780 million people do not have access to clean water, you are changed.
When you learn that buying even a simple necklace or bracelet can provide a fair wage to a woman who might be on the brink of destitution otherwise, and that the simple necklace or bracelet you wear is providing hope for her and her family, you are changed.
When you learn that a widow isn’t always a wise old lady with gray hair and a slew of grandchildren, but a young woman with no financial prospects because her husband died in a car crash, you are changed.
That is what the ripple effect does; it means you have the power to affect change for someone else. And you are changed, too.
It might just be a cute necklace or a pretty basket to you. It might be $50 you didn’t really need anyway.
To that other person, who is in desperate need, it is clean water.
Enough food on the table.
School uniforms and enrollment for children.
A roof over heads.
Phil and I ate at a wonderful restaurant a few weeks ago. The food was amazing.
But we spent enough money on our meal to sponsor a couple of children that month.
Or to buy several fair trade baskets.
Or to buy several necklaces made by women who are HIV+ and have no other source of income available.
Why not give up something you take for granted to help someone else?
Sponsor a child.
Consider donating money for a micro finance loan.
Something that has changed in Phil and I is that we are using our blessings to provide ways for families to stay together. Our hearts have been twisted and turned inside out.
Adoption always happens because of loss. Adoption is a blessing. It is necessary.
But if you have to power to create change and opportunities for others to stay out of destitution and keep families together, use it!
There are a million ways to use our money, talents, energy, and ideas to empower those who need a helping hand.
We just need to be willing to do something.
When we empower other people, we become God-with-skin-on to them, and we answer prayers we never even heard being uttered. When we help others, we are significant. When we help others, we help them be significant, too.
When we help others, we offer the most powerful thing a ripple effect could emit throughout the entire world: hope.
It is automatically infused into our lives and hearts, and into the lives and hearts of others.
Will you join me in spreading some hope today?
I am so excited to be partnering with Christian Relief Fund on a monthly basis to spread the word about our God, who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42
Let’s rise up as a church, people, and individuals, and do something for the oppressed and the poverty-stricken. We serve a mighty God, who “is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
“Because of the oppression of the weak and because of the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says Yahweh; “I will set him in safety from those who malign him.” Psalm 12:5