Over the last few months as I have been researching organizations, I have learned a great deal. Most of it has been very encouraging. More than once, I have been moved to tears by stories of people who are living their lives for the gospel. People who do not care about glory. People who do not see the poor, orphaned and widow as projects or causes, but instead, as valuable souls in need of a Savior. People who love because Christ loves them. People who creatively find ways to meet great physical needs with dignity and grace while pointing the ones they are serving to the only One who can meet their spiritual needs.
Some of the research has been discouraging. John Adams once said "Facts are stubborn things." The facts, in this case, show that sometimes aid does more harm than good. Some organizations have short sighted business models that merely put band-aids on gaping wounds. Occasionally people are driven by selfish motives. Sometimes short term trips undo years of work by missionaries because participants come in behaving rudely, ignoring the culture of the ones they are serving or promising far more than they can deliver leaving hurt and pain in their wake.
As an over-thinker and a realist, the negative statistics and research can stir up a kind of paralysis of action or even a cynicism in me that is unhealthy. Those stubborn facts can distract me from seeing what's important.
This week I've been mulling over the following questions, "What's the solution? How can I be sure that what I'm doing is making an eternal difference?"
These are the steps I keep coming to over and over again.
Pray. Listen. Act.
*For those suffering
*For guidance in how to best use our talents and abilities to serve
*Stay in His word
*Be still and quiet
*Love People- whatever that looks like. It may be shopping with a conscience, visiting your neighbor, really engaging with our own family, tutoring school children, working in a homeless shelter, sponsoring a child through Compassion or World Vision, adopting or moving out of the country to serve others. It might be a huge step or it might be small and seemingly insignificant. It is never insignificant.
*Research. Do the companies or organizations I desire to work with have the same values? How will my time and resources best be used? Is Christ at the center?
*Obey- I am convinced our calling is as unique as each of us. Spending time competing with others or desiring their journey, robs us of the joy that comes from living the journey He has for us.
All this research is stretching me. I'm thankful for that. There are so many different ways to love, fight injustice and be His hands and feet. May God grant us the strength and wisdom to embrace the way He has for us.