Today I’m issuing a challenge. It’s geared specifically towards my college friends, but I think it’s equally applicable for anyone who’s ever been struck by just how fortunate most of us are.
Yesterday, I was extremely touched by the video of a particular organization that sponsors Mayan children in Guatemala. I’ve attached it below. Take a look—it’s really worth watching.
I found it so moving to hear this little girl cry—to hear her desperation for the chance to be a kid. She wanted to be able to play with the non-Mayan kids she saw running around without a care in the world. She wanted to be able to go to school with them. She wanted to learn! Whereas most of us see school as a burden, to her it was an opportunity she could only dream of, and, when she finally got the opportunity to go, she overflowed with gratitude.
At just 8 years old, Claudia was expected to work to help support her struggling family—something most children that age would never even think of—and, though she was forced to continue all of this manual labor in addition to her new schoolwork, she never complained. Even though she was much poorer than all her classmates and put in classes with boys and girls years younger, she was still so grateful. With tears streaming down her face, and grace and maturity greater than that of people even ten times her age, Claudia shared these words: “I don’t have a lot of things, but I couldn’t ask for more.” And she’s only around ten years old.
Wow. That really puts things into perspective. But it also breaks my heart and makes me want so badly to help those who haven’t had the same opportunities as I have growing up.
Unfortunately, however, the action often stops there. I’ll feel bad. I’ll be thankful. I might even share the story or video with friends or family. But these stories are not meant to enflame our hearts just for the sake of enflamed hearts. We cannot be the one who sees and hears but does not react. Our hearts must be moved, but so also our hands and feet.
I really felt those words spoken to my heart last night, and I felt convicted to finally stand up and do something. I know the time for New Year’s resolutions has passed, but I’m going to issue one anyway. For the next eleven months—for the rest of this year—I’m going to commit myself to giving. I’d like to invite you to join me on this journey.
Now, I know we’re just college kids, and we might feel like we don’t have much to give, but that’s okay. Give anyway. I am so blessed, and I have done nothing to merit the blessings I’ve received. That’s why I cannot continue to live in a way that says, “I deserve what I have, and the circumstances of others are not my problem.” My brothers and sisters are starving—both for food and love. They’re thirsty for the knowledge that there’s someone out there who loves them—someone out there who cares about them and sees the great dignity that’s inside them. I cannot ignore their need.
I also cannot continue to be a slave to the fear that I will never have enough. I am a full-time student, with absolutely no source of income, but I am still so much more fortunate than so many others, and I believe that God is the Giver of all things. I believe that He will continue to provide for all my needs. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.
Sympathy does not fix the world’s ills. Kind words do not fill hungry bellies. Empty prayers cannot send children to school. Awareness alone will not break the cycle of poverty. We cannot be blind in the face of injustice, and we cannot be idle in light of what we see.
So here’s the plan:
- Volunteer. If you’re not invested in some form of service already, sign up, sign up, sign up! It could be anything—tutoring kids after school through the Big Brother/Big Sister program, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, working at your local Society of St. Vincent de Paul food pantry… Do some research and see what interests you. Even if you can only commit to volunteering once a month at the local soup kitchen, this will bless your life, and, more importantly, it will bless the lives of many others. This is the opportunity to manifest the Love we’ve been shown and tell people of their worth as radiant daughters and sons of God in a very real way. I can’t encourage it enough.
- Give. Join me in giving, even from our broke-college-student state. Maybe you want to find one charity you believe in and pledge to contribute a certain amount each month. Maybe you want to sponsor a child. Maybe you’d like to give to a different charity each month. Sounds good to me! Whether you wanna donate five dollars or fifty, just give! Every dollar will be a blessing.
- Pray. Pray that your investment makes a difference. Pray for your brothers and sisters on the receiving end of this aid. This is about more than just checking boxes. This is about sharing love and changing lives. Our commitment to prayer could not be any more important.
- Share. Tell all your friends and family. Invite them to join you on this journey. Change your cover photo on Facebook to snapshots of the people whose lives are being changed by your charit(ies)’ work. Get the word out—tell people why you feel so strongly about the investments you’re making and why they should feel the same.
Join me this year in giving back. Let us be men and women of courage instead of just passive subjects of the culture. I have the feeling this resolution might effect great change in us, and who knows—maybe when we look back on the year come January 1st, we’ll have found a new life resolution instead of one that tapered off towards the end of 2014.
Let me know if you’re willing to accept the challenge. Together we can create a network of people ready to answer the call to step outside of ourselves and live with reckless love.
I’ll be praying for you.