15: the little things (2)

I saw a family featured on a talk show today. This husband and wife so longed for children to fill their home, yet the children did not come. Coming to terms with the painful reality of infertility, they began the process of seeking out children that were as desperate for a home, as they were for children. Their search took them all the way to Ghana, to three brothers whose eyes peered into their souls through a computer screen.

The adoption process finalized, they traveled to Ghana to pick up their sons. Children desperate for a home. Yet the oldest did not want to leave his best friend to the hopeless life of an orphan in Africa. He begged his new mother to adopt his friend as well... his friend offering the following arrangement...

"if I eat only one meal a day, and clean your house, would you come back and be my mother too?"

Friends, if that does not break your heart... then what will? This beautiful, dark child who was more than happy to work his way into a family. Of course, this couple returned for the boy. He sat on the stage with them in his crisp, striped dress shirt, smiling with white teeth and declaring his hope of becoming a professional soccer player.

But how many more like him are sitting in orphanages in Ghana. Haiti. Ethiopia. Russia. China.

How many children like him are in America, bounced from foster home to foster  home to foster home. Every time hoping and praying that this will be the one. This will be the place that loves.

I cannot stop thinking about yesterday's blog. I cannot stop thinking that I did not take it quite as far as God was asking. That He requires more than that we would recognize our arrogance... that He is seeking people who are actually willing to do something. That when we have postured our hearts to be broken by the things that break His... we would do something about the need we see.

All day He has whispered the verses we find in Ephesians and James...

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no man can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9]

Just as that young boy could not work his way into an American family by sacrificing meals or cleaning the house, neither can we work our way into Heaven simply by sacrificing things or doing good works. It is by grace that we have been saved, grace which is a free gift of God. Grace which brings freedom. Grace which brings life. Our faith in Him opens the portal of grace so that it can flow freely over us... through us. The recipient of grace knows that He has received a gift, and knows that the only boasting that can be done is in the goodness of our beautiful Savior.

But then...
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. [James 2:14-17]

If you have truly received the gift that brings eternal life... what then should your response be? When the awesome realization washes over you that Jesus Christ entered this world as a man, and climbed a tree on Calvary just so you could be reconciled to Him... just so you could know Him... just so you could have life and have life to the fullest... just so you could walk in freedom... just so you could live this life in the light of eternity... what then should be your response? To tell the hungry "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed"?  To see a need, and then wait for someone else to meet it?

But someone will say "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is only one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder. [James 2:18-19]

Faith, belief, relationship is more than just lip service. It's more than saying "I believe". After all, no one knows the reality of a just God more than the demons... they believe in Him, they know there is only one God... and they shudder with the knowledge. Knowing is not enough. The fruit of our faith is born out in our lives. Lives lived set apart. Lives lived differently. Lives that cry out for more of Him and less of ourselves (John 3:30).  Lives that are willing to do something radical, just because He called us to it.

And so tonight, He is asking you (He is asking me)...
Are you willing? Are you willing to pay Him more than just lip service, and instead love His children the way that he does? Are you willing to be His hands and feet in this lost and dying world? Are you willing to open your eyes to a need, and then do something to meet it?

Ezekiel 16:49 reads "And this was the sin of your sister Sodom; She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy" 

Read that scripture again. The sin of Sodom that aroused the anger of God, which required that the city be destroyed... was not the sexual sin of the city (as I had always thought)... it was that they did not help the poor and the needy. When God looked onto that city which is synonymous with gross depravity and sin... He saw a people who were overfed... arrogant.... and unconcerned.

He saw a people who were overfed while others starved... my serving at the Mexican restaurant tonight was literally enough to feed an entire family. Over 33% of Americans are obese. That's over 100 million people that are overfed while 5 million children a year die from malnutrition. Overfed.

He saw a people who were arrogant, seeing only their own selfish desires over the need and hurt of others... today I spent $18 eating out... while over one billion people in the world live on less than $1.25 a day. Someone's two week's salary went toward a couple of meals for just me today... and I threw half of that food out.  Arrogant.

He saw a people who were unconcerned, turning a blind eye to the gross need of others... did you know that American Christians spend $20 billion a year on soft drinks, while $13 billion would feed every hungry person in the world. That's American Christians who value their Diet Coke over a starving child. Unconcerned.

I don't want to be that guy.

And now that our eyes are open to the need, I pray that you don't either. So let's do SOMETHING. 

Here are some organizations that you can support... today. Where the dollars a day you will likely not even miss will have life changing impact. 

Compassion International  One of the most well known and respected child sponsorship organizations. If you want to know the impact child sponsorship has... read Ann Voskamp's blog here. I read this the other day and wept thinking about a sponsor's picture hanging in the lonely bedroom of a boy abandoned to the jungle.

The Water Project One of many organizations working to bring clean water to Africa. Put down that Diet Coke and bring life giving water to the thirsty!

Touch a Life Foundation  The heart's work of Pam and Randy Cope who are working tirelessly to free children who have been enslaved on Lake Volta in Ghana. Sign up to sponsor a child's room and board, or education, or BOTH. You can also support this organization through a local "Find Your Mark" chapter in Shoals, Indiana. Contact Christy Farhar at Uofkwldcatfan@aol.com for information. She would love to hear from you. Or you can click on my tab that goes to Kidz 4 Freedom... you can buy some super cute duct tape hair bows and pens and all the proceeds will go to Touch a Life!

The Mercy House A maternity home in Kenya which offers young pregnant women a safe place to bring their children into the world, all the while teaching them about the grace of Christ, parenting, and job skills. You can shop the Mercy Store or offer monthly donations to this very worthwhile cause.

And the list doesn't end there. Those are just a very few that He has put on my own heart to support or start supporting. There is so much more... so whatever your passion... whatever your heart has broken for... there is a way to get involved. Prayerfully consider opening your home to one of the thousands of children in foster care. Or if you can't do that, consider becoming a CASA so that you can be the voice of a child in the foster care system. [I've linked to Indiana's Child Advocate Network, but if you aren't in Indiana, I am sure there is one in YOUR area. Just see my good friend Google for details.]  Seek out your local crisis pregnancy center. They are always underfunded, undervolunteered, underadvertised. Offer young women in your communities healthy choices when faced with unwanted pregnancies. Find a Bound4Life chapter near you (or START ONE if there aren't any!) and become purposeful in interceding for the lives of unborn children. Donate to the local Meals on Wheels program that bring meals into the home of the aged and disabled. Clean out your closets and donate the excess to a local homeless shelter, or Salvation Army, or Goodwill, or church. Pick up extra the next time you are at the grocery store for your local food pantry.

Whatever it is...
do something.

This Thanksgiving, can we as a Body do more than just give thanks? Instead can we be a people willing to give radically out of our abundance? It's important to give thanks... don't get me wrong... but once we have recognized how blessed we truly are, how can we then turn a blind eye to those in desperate need?

He is asking us to put feet to our faith... are you willing?


Anonymous said...

WOW!! There are soooo many ways that we as a "church" can help others in need. This blog hits close to home on so many levels! I saw the talk show you are referring to here - that family was simply amazing and they were so humble about their decision. From this day forward, I am going to focus my energy on being more Christlike and giving. Thanks, again, my dear friend!!! Love, Amy Scott

Anonymous said...

WOW!! There are soooo many ways that we as a "church" can help others in need. This blog hits close to home on so many levels! I saw the talk show you are referring to here - that family was simply amazing and they were so humble about their decision. From this day forward, I am going to focus my energy on being more Christlike and giving. Thanks, again, my dear friend!!! Love, Amy Scott