I remember being at an African orphanage years ago; after we came back from playing with the children one afternoon, we discovered that some of our belongings were missing. I remember that we were not so upset about the discovery of the loss as by the realization that we had failed to consider their basic needs.
Here we were, many kilometers deep into Africa with the best intentions – – – bags full of Christmas gifts and a truck full of construction material we’d hauled all the way there to build some kind of playground structure. However, we had lost sight of the reality of their situation, that they had a greater need for underwear and toiletries, especially for the girls.
In a country where a girl has no say and an orphan has no mother to ask for deodorant, it is wiser to forget your assumptions and just ask her how you might help, what she might need, and what she might want mentally, physically, or emotionally.
In general, our most basic needs are fundamentally the same. Others probably need the same things you purchase for yourself on a routine basis. But when you get down to the real basics, they need love, acceptance, and opportunities to see their dreams come true.
“Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
However, I have to admit that I often have the willingness to help but lack the wisdom to know where and how to start. As I read the statistics compiled about refugees, orphans, and human trafficking in the world today, I am paralyzed by the overwhelming problems and accept the lie that there is nothing I can do to help, resulting in inaction on my part. I am like Israel in the presence of Goliath – – – weak, limited, and afraid to go to battle.
Instead of trying to change the statistics or focusing on the size of the problem, perhaps we just need to look around ourselves and deal with the things we can do today where we are to make a change. If we simply show up with the little we have and willing hearts and minds to help with the needs around us, we can become part of the story of change.
I see a story being played out every day in the lives and actions of those who still choose to love, to care, to give and to share….no matter how small the deed may seem.
And it may not feel like we’re changing the world, but we will know that we are slowly being changed and evoking change in those around us. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive, and the harder we try to help others solve their problems, the better our perspective will be on our own daily struggles. I want to encourage you today to simply open your eyes to the simple needs around you…. and be creative.
What do you have of great value that others lack? Do not be fooled into thinking that money is the solution to all problems, because there are problems in the world that money cannot fix. There is an overwhelming need for compassion. Our bank accounts may be overflowing while our hearts are bankrupt of love and compassion, which the world is crying out for. We need to reach out to others with the things that satisfy…the things that speak love, hope, and forgiveness…the things that are eternal….the things that we receive from God and God alone.
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus told us everything we need to know today to please God: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I pray that we all seek wisdom from God to be obedient to the law of love written on the tablets of our hearts.
If you still feel like you do not know where to start I’ll give you a few ideas:
Get locally involved at the orphanage, old age home, shelter or public hospital down the street. Ask yourself if it were your child, mother, brother, or sister, what would they need?
Or even better – go and ask them.
Get globally involved by empowering those who are already reaching out. The options are endless and the idea is not to promote a specific organization but to challenge you to find the people who are already making a difference in something you are passionate about.
How can you get involved or encourage others in their ministries?
Find ways to involve those you love. Even your children are never too young to learn how to care about others, and it is so much better if they can learn from you.
But above all, receive God’s perfect love and His Spirit to empower you to share His love with others. Once you receive Jesus as your Lord, you have received the One who supplies every need for the spirit first, then for the body.
“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ….”