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The Need Is Everywhere

April 30, 2008

My son walked into the room the other night and asked this, “Mom, Dad – aren’t there starving and dying children here in America too?” We’ve just recently sponsored a boy in Uganda with Compassion International. So Kota is thinking about this a lot.

But he brings up a good question. While we support supporting anyone, anywhere as often as we can…it’s important not to neglect what we can do in our own communities as well.

So. Think about your community now. How much do you know about it? Do you know its needs? Its weaknesses? Its strengths?

What is something you can invest in, where you are now, that might make a difference?

How can you reach your community to serve someone else?

19 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 2:45 am

    I am Proud of You!

    ( off to ‘consider’ some more)


  2. lori permalink
    April 30, 2008 5:22 am

    It’s wonderful to hear your son’s heart. I had a similar experience as a young teenager after visiting W. Virginia. I actually called one of the organizations raising money for children in 3rd world countries and asked them point blank what they were doing about children in the U.S. I didn’t get much of a response!

    But your post does stir up a desire to find out more about what I can do within my own community…hafta consider more…

  3. April 30, 2008 5:36 am

    I sat next to a sleeping construction worker (he had hard-hat in his lap) on the train this morning. A woman stopped and wanted to sit in the empty seat across from him but he was slouching and needed to sit up. I nudged him, he woke with a start and sat up abruptly. I said good morning and smiled. The woman needed a seat. Unlike my job, this guy actually works and may well have needed sleep. Should I have gotten up and offered my seat to the woman?

    I had passed two homeless people sharing a bottle of vodka last night on the way home. This morning, I passed a homeless woman walking from union station. I did not offer any change. Did she need food or want drugs? Did I judge her with last night image? Did I follow the spirit’s leading? I don’t know.

    I followed my colleague Tom into the elevator at 800 K St NW. Tom likes to ride the elevator alone. Tom in an introverted computer programmer. Tom is a little disappointed that the door doesn’t close before I get to it. A lady enters the lobby and makes eye contact with me. She wants me to hold the door. I think about Tom as I push and hold the open-door button. Is that showing Tom love or an example of love? What does he need more?

    The 60-something guy in the cubicle next to me lost his 41 year old daughter in a car crash last month. His 2 most important (and only) recommendations to everyone when returning to work were: 1) Always wear you seatbelt and 2) get a Will. Like me, he can use humor to mask his heart. His name is Geoff. He is my friend. He has everything. Yet he keeps working. Is God using his greed to sit him next to me?

    So there’s a list of the hearts and a glimpse of the needs I’ve brushed up against so far today.

    Thanks for this post.

  4. April 30, 2008 5:47 am

    YAY kota.

    didn’t know you & i were chattering up the same topics today…

    drew and i have been talking (a lot) about turning the tide of consumerism in communities with which we’ve had (or will have) influence.
    we’re thinking a lot about (with whatever church we’ll land in) raising awareness, promoting giving, and offering opportunities. i think we have been ROCKED by a global perspective while at seminary. and i think we have been SHAMED by the american ideology of buy buy buy – get get get – have have have.
    so, we wanna do something about it. fight the disease of materialism, and offer the healing salve of giving to the world at large.
    go kota!

  5. April 30, 2008 5:50 am

    BUT. can i also add that i’m afraid (once we get outta seminary and away from our international relatinships) that we’ll forget about this. forget about the rest of the world. forget about how LITTLE we can actually live on.
    and we’ll get sucked back into that world. that mentality. that selfishness.
    then we won’t have any momentum or passion to charge forward for change.

  6. April 30, 2008 7:33 am

    mama and I are struggling with this as well. In fact we are looking for opportunities to serve others right here where we live. You might actually check with your church Tam – maybe there is a family that needs help. Maybe a close neighbor. Like Ric above, they are all around us, we just need to see them a little clearer.

  7. April 30, 2008 7:46 am

    The county in which I reside is in the top 25 counties for youth poverty (out of thousands of counties) in the US, with a loarge homeless teen population. It is very sad, but an earthly reality (Jesus said,” For the poor you have with you always.”) with which the church must consider and alleviate.

  8. April 30, 2008 7:48 am

    Mandy – actually, yours, and many other posts, have been inspiring me to bring up this topic for a long time. I just feel that we’ve neglected, for the most part, the needs here. The starving and dying children here in our back yards. The battered woman here. The abused and the abusive here.

    Our church has adopted an elementary school in our community. It is a school filled with troubled children. Many, nearly a hundred, are actually homeless. A few living in cars. Too many of them live in Meth homes. This is life within walking distance of me.

    Where is this on the news? In our papers? I never knew this until the Principal came to our church and shared it with everyone. I was stunned.

    Please hear me too…I am not against helping anyone, anywhere, as I’ve said already, but let’s not forget the ones within reach too…physical reach. They are there.

    Ric – exactly! You are aware and conscious of your surroundings. The places where you can physically and immediately make a difference…along with making a difference abroad, if you so choose.

    Right Lori – that is my point. It’s up to us to make an awareness of what is happening, or not, locally.

    Again – this is NOT to say anything negative about helping other countries. So I hope no one thinks that or turns this into that. We love our little guy from Uganda. He is a part of our family. He’s beautiful! he is just as important and worthy of love, attention and Jesus as the child 2 blocks away who only gets to eat at school and has a mother addicted to crack.

    Love – Thank you. Looking forward to your comment. 😉

  9. April 30, 2008 7:52 am

    Right Papa! Our church is a very community involved people! I LOVE that about us. We adopted that neighborhood school i mentioned above. Our Food Pantry feeds 1,000’s every month. We’ve partnered with Habitat For Humanity and several other outreaches. It is up to us here.

    Nate – the numbers and statistics are astounding! Right here. It blows me away!

  10. April 30, 2008 9:46 am

    He has such a good point. There is a huge meth problem in my town. Not sure what I can do about that. But I definitely see them when I’m working at Walmart. They shake and just looked so glazed over. Sometimes I pray for them right on the spot.

  11. April 30, 2008 10:03 am

    we are transients in our current community, but am still able to serve at our local church. hopefully one day soon we will really be able to dig our heels in a community and help with change.

  12. April 30, 2008 11:40 am

    Tam, great post. I think that everyone on this thread makes good points. We have been talking about charity and kind works – things that are VERY important. But when it comes to things like poverty and hunger, charity and kind works are reactionary responses to the results of systemic injustice (something that is being discussed on Brent’s blog right now).

    If we are really concerned about starving and impoverished people then we need to look at the reasons that, especially in this wealthy land, that we have this suffering class. What systems are we, as individuals, part of and benefiting from, that are perpetuating this human misery? I’ve got a quote from Jim Wallis on my blog that says; “You can’t just keep pulling bodies out of the river; you’ve got to send somebody upstream to see what or who is throwing them in.”

    It’s wonderful that we have kind hearts and reach out to those who have so much less than us. But we cannot adopt all the orphans, we cannot donate all of our money – and even if we could that would not stop the problem from growing.

    Charity can only go so far. When we are finished volunteering at the soup kitchen we still get to go home to our warm homes.

  13. April 30, 2008 2:42 pm

    We called to be Acts 1:8 kinda Christians; spreading the Good News in Jersalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends odf the earth. This is how it looks practically:

    1) Jersalem = Our homes, families, friends,

    2) Judea = friendly neighbors

    3) Samaria = Not-so-friendly neighbors

    4) Ends of the earth = ends of the earth

    I have heard a gazillion differnt variations, but the ‘theme’ remains the same: no one, no where, at no time is exempt.

    God bless.


    *I’d be honored if you’d add Jesus + Compassion to your blog roll

  14. April 30, 2008 2:42 pm

    No one I know of has found the answer to poverty.

    Volunteer work is the easy kind of work to find. I do the bookkeeping for a local shelter. For some reason they won’t let me near the kitchen. 🙂

    Time and money are always issues when it comes to being able to help other people. The simplest act is to be kind to your neighbor. In the long run that might be the most important.

  15. May 1, 2008 8:59 am

    “reactionary responses” hmmmm. Even with the one’s in our own back yard, even if we are helping them, is it still “help from afar”? Do we take the time to truly know them, and let them know us?
    I’ve had my own experience with poverty first hand. It has certainly given me a heart for those who are still there. Not just to give to them, but to know them also, and let them know me. And yes, especially those right here…next door, in the schools, in my church, maybe sitting right next to me in church every week!
    I know there have been more than one Christmas’ that I sat in church, listening to the plea to give to the local families in need that we were sponsoring that year, while I didn’t have a single penny to buy one Christmas present for my own children, let alone anything for a Christmas dinner. Yet, no one knew. And this is a very small church, under 100 people. And….I am one of the Ministers. Yet no one knew! I think our lives get so caught up in our own “stuff” that we don’t see or know what’s going on in those around us. Or we’ve simply become numb to it, because there is so much.
    I remember a horrible day in 2005, when my dad called me crying so hard I couldn’t even figure out who was on the phone. He had Medicare, because he was 65, which paid for his mountain of medical expenses. He had heart disease, kidney failure, and was on dialysis. He had access to all of the medical care he needed to stay alive.
    My mother was diagnosed with Uterine cancer, and was becoming horribly ill. She was not 65 yet, and had no insurance. They had spent every penny of savings they had because my dad lost his job after 911, and through many hospital stays it slowly dwindled away. Not one doctor would even see my mom without money.
    My dad was so broken hearted that the entire world was coming together to help victims of hurricane Katrina at that time, including paying thousands and thousands of dollars to take care of misplaced dogs and cats, but there was no one who would help one bit with my mom. He was going to just quit going to dialysis completely and stay home with her, because “how was he anymore deserving of life and medical intervention than his own wife, who is a part of him”. He did keep going, but also died 4 months later. She was completely, miraculously healed by God, after being given less than 2 months to live.
    But I will never forget that phone call. I’ve never heard such heart wrenching wailing in my life. It has caused me to take my own walls down around my heart, and start KNOWING people around me, and letting them know me. We are a body. My children who go without…are YOUR children. My mother who is dying…is YOUR mother. Your children who have no food to eat….are MY children. Reaching out becomes truly reaching from within when that becomes our reality.

    I’m sorry this was so long!

    Mother Teresa …”And so here I am talking to you. I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin loving here. Bring that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next door neighbors. Do you know who they are?”

  16. May 1, 2008 10:56 am

    Your son and mine are two of a kind. We recently took my son’s birthday donations he raised for ‘Feed the Children’ which totaled 16.85. You’d thought he’d brought them 1 million dollars. They made him feel so good and sent him a certificate in the mail for it. That money, he asked to be sent to Rwanda, where we also sponsor a child through Compassion Intrn’l. When we left their offices he said, “We’ll be back for the kids who live in Oklahoma. Mommy says kids starve all over the United States, and I want kids to eat in Oklahoma.” My son is out to change the world! I can’t wait to see what he does!

  17. May 1, 2008 11:06 am

    Compassion is Awesome. We adopted our second child through World Vision as well and it’s a good thing.

  18. May 1, 2008 11:20 am

    Blessed1 – I LOVE that story about your son!!! What a heart after God he has at such a young age! He will touch many you know?!

    Kelly – WOW! I am in tears! What a testimony! What a hearts cry too! Your dad was right on! How sad and true it all is.

    Yes, when we can reach within we can know better how to reach out.

    Wow – i need to go digest this for a bit.

    Thanks SO very much for sharing Kelly!

    Sam – Compassion is a first class organization. We are so thrilled to be partnering with them!

  19. November 21, 2008 10:19 am

    Check out this video — it’ll make your day!

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