I hear the news stories, and my heart breaks. I struggle with the desire to just tune it out, because the crisis seems so large, the distance is so far, my abilities seem so small, and the need is so great. What can someone like me to to make a difference in what is happening halfway around the world?
I've found that my apathy and my inability to engage hurts me. I get num. I tune it out. I know that I look a little less like Jesus too when I can't see people; when I have lost my empathy.
I just haven't known how to get started. What should my plan be? There are so many needs, how do you even choose?
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Q Idea's annual conference in Boston. If you are unfamiliar with Q Ideas, it is a little like TED talks, but with a lens of faith. I'm looking forward to writing more about all of the things I am thinking about from this time.
This couldn't have been better scheduled for me. I had the opportunity to hear from leaders and experts who were grappling with hard ideas, and hear what action steps they had come up with.
After listening to Lynne Hybels, Richard Sterns, President of World Vision, Jeremy Courtney, Romanita Harrison, Michael Gerson, and others speaking about how do we respond to a world in crisis as believers here are the action steps I've come up with.
Choose a issue.Pick something that breaks your heart. Be brave, through Jesus in your life you can offer hope to the situations that seem hopeless. Don't just pick the low hanging fruit, but be brave and have faith that God can do the extraordinary. Be a peacemaker, because you were once an enemy of God, and through Jesus's sacrifice you were brought into his family. Don't feel badly if choosing one issue means that you don't take action on others that need investment too. There needs to be a natural narrowing, so that you can fully invest. Pray that God will lead you to an issue, a region, a country, or even a specific organization.
LearnLearn all that you can about this issue. Read any books you can find. Read news articles, reports and blogs. Go beyond the surface. Find groups that are addressing this issue. Tools like Relief Web can be really helpful too.
PRAYCommit to praying, not just a quick mention or a one time prayer. Pray about and all around your issue. Learn the art of Lamentation. This is a prayerful practice of calling out to God. It is acknowledging the brokenness, asking God to do something and finding hope that He will.
Take ActionThis doesn't have to be a grand action, but just a small action helps you feel like you are getting started. Maybe there is a group that you can join, an expert you can learn from, or an organization you can make a donation to.
ShareShare what you are learning with people you know will be interested. Have a dinner party, or invite people over for coffee and share what you have learned about this issue.
AdvocateWe underestimate the power we have as Americans. Contact your government officials to let you know that you support taking action on this topic. See if there are petitions you can sign.
GiveWe have resource that can really make a difference. I know that we all are susceptible to giver fatigue, but we just don't realize how much of an impact our donations can make.
Sometimes we struggle with this deep conviction to do something, and yet here we are not necessarily in that location. It is tempting to want to be brave and pack up your life and go. In some cases, this is what God is calling you to do. I know that I will carry with me what Jeremy Courtney shared. He told us that he understands that desire to go, and join the fight on the front line. He knew that nobody would ever laugh him out of the room, because people see what he is doing as brave and noble, but he thinks sometimes the braver thing is to stay. To live your life, day to day glorifying God in the small things, to bring awareness to your issue, and to continue your job as a plumber, or mom, or teacher, or doctor making contributions to allow others to do the work. Organizations like his couldn't do their work without people back home being ardent supporters. We really all are in this together. Wouldn't we all want to live with the conviction that our work here matters so much and makes an impact on the whole world?