Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let us not grow weary...

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9 (ESV) 

I see them staring out from my computer screen. Faces of children dying of starvation in Somalia; 29,000 of them in the last three months. That is JUST the number for those under the age of five. That would be all but 7,000 of the preschoolers in Washington, DC. Half of the preschoolers in Delaware or South Dakota. 1 out of every 100 in California. I read the news stories and I glance at the comments hoping to see people moved to help. I need to stop reading the comments, because how can people look into the face of suffering like this and be so hateful, so vengeful, so unmoved?


I read the stories from bloggers currently traveling in Bolivia with World Vision. More faces of children, more stories of poverty, of children walking an hour to get to school, of fathers leaving families to find work and never returning. Stories that bring tears to my eyes and rip holes in my heart. And I hear the frustration in the words of the bloggers as they report that their blog stats are down because apparently people don't want to hear about the broken places.

The other week our family participated in the annual Minn-Kota  Festival for World Relief. This sale takes place to help support the relief, development and peace branch of our denomination's ministry, Mennonite Central Committee. Handmade quilts, wooden furnishings and a variety of other items are auctioned off, theme baskets are created for the silent auction, food abounds. But every year the sale is smaller, every year it seems that fewer people attend. People in our age group just don't make the effort.


Indy after a busy day at the sale
What's the deal? Have we grown weary of doing good? Is there too much suffering in the world for us to comprehend and so we close ourselves off because the small difference we could make doesn't seem to be enough? Are we so caught up in our lives that we just don't care enough to make the effort to help?

I wish that I could instantly help every child who needs it. I wish that I could change the world. I wish that I weren't so self-centered sometimes, that I could think more of growing the kingdom of God and less of growing my possessions. I wish that I could find more ways to consume less and give more. I wish that I didn't feel such a pull to live like everyone else around me.

And so I start small, because small is what I do best. I glue a map of Africa to a jar and set it on the kitchen table. I toss in the coins because they are just change and really I won't miss eighty cents, will I? And eighty cents grows into two dollars and then three and I start to look for more ways to make a change. I step on the scale and I'm pretty sure it's broken and I should get a new one...but do I really need something to tell me that I'm still eating too much? Couldn't that $25 feed a family instead?

I clear my closets and bag the excess to take to a thrift store. Double blessings here because maybe someone will have clothes they couldn't afford, and proceeds from this store go for world relief. My children want to know why we don't have a garage sale and all I can say is 'because we don't need to'. And we don't. I am not so poor that I can't afford to give away.

So I keep going with small. A dollar here, a dollar there. I can't change the world, but I can change the way I see it. I can change myself. I can refuse to grow weary of doing good.

3 comments:

  1. sigh. a part of me thinks 'we' are jaded by giving. we want our giving to be sexy. we want Bono to do a video, and then we'll give. we want to go to a convention, and the guy from charity water will make us tweet and give. we want to give out loud, when hurricanes and typhoons strike, not quietly, when a bunch of mennonites make woodwork.

    however, i am all for small giving. my former pastor once told us that his father taught him to NEVER ever pass up a chance to give, even if it was a quarter. that giving was a lifestyle. and that he wanted to die exactly even. not owing, but not really owning either. i thought that was a good philosophy to have.

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  2. Not owing but not owning either. I kind of like that.

    And yes, I think it is easier to give when it is sexy, and maybe when someone tells us exactly what and when to give. When faced with famine and all the different charities to give to its easy to get overwhelmed with just putting off the choice. I think that's why I like MCC and the Great Commission Fund, because they both have established track records and I don't have to decide what place needs my gift the most because they are constantly assessing and prioritizing.

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  3. ps. i like mcc too. i also like mennonite woodworkers :)

    hey! i meant to tell you that my favorite part of minnkota was seeing a former (way former) colleague who told me that he still had some pie charts i made for him to use in a budget presentation 25 years ago. wow!

    it so happens, he has the same last name as you. not sure that is rare, as there seem to be a few ***s in the area :)

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