I don’t usually read through the Parade magazine that comes in our Sunday paper, but I picked it up this morning to read about Angelina Jolie. She’s always intrigued me for some reason, and although her lifestyle isn’t something I’d choose, she said something interesting in the article.
“A refugee woman, living nowhere, raising five kids with no food, does not need me to cry. She needs me to go find some solutions for her.”
This simple statement was a moment of conviction for me as I thought about how many times I’ve railed against the injustices in today’s world and yet I’ve never done anything about them.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
Though by ourselves we can’t solve all the world’s problems, neither should we ignore them. We should not simply console ourselves with our thoughts of pity and then wipe our tears and get on with our lives. Our works do not save us, but actions of kindness to others should overflow out of our thankfulness to God for His love and provision for us.
Whether we have much to give monetarily or not, we can find ways to “visit” (care for) others in their distress, including, but not limited to, orphans and widows. Getting our children involved in service is important too and gives them a tangible way to show Christ’s love through their own actions and look outside of themselves.
Here are some examples of ways we can physically give to those in need:
*Go on a mission trip that provides an opportunity to tangibly help others by providing for their physical needs, like building a home, educating children, growing crops or getting fresh water to a village. Samaritan’s Purse Volunteer Network provides opportunities to help in places such as Haiti and New Orleans. The church body we are a part of has a student missions team that goes to places such as Uganda and Ecuador.
*Volunteer at a local food pantry one day a month with your children and help collect, pack and distribute food items to those who come. Serve at a local church that provides a complimentary Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to the community.
*Look for outreach opportunities in your church or community that involve working with disadvantaged youth or young adults.
*Volunteer at a local woman’s pregnancy center, men’s or woman’s shelter or halfway house. Your presence and kind words can be an encouragement to many.
*Join the World Medical Mission or the Christian Veterinary Mission if you have the professional training to help one of these missions as they provide care for those at home and abroad who are sick and unable to afford care. These organizations also train doctors oversees and provide care for animals who are the livelihood of their owners who cannot afford to treat them.
There are so many things that we can do other than donating to a cause that is close to our hearts. Monetary support is important, but being a physical part of a project or mission changes our lives, grows our character and teaches us that it’s not “all about me”.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'”
*Quotation taken from Parade Magazine in an article by Dotson Rader, July 11, 2010