My mind races back to exactly a year ago when my face met the unyielding brick wall of God’s heart. Last December, many thoughts and promptings had been swirling around in my heart and mind, and on a Saturday morning they all came to fruition in a puddle of tears on my pillow. I like to think God allowed me to shed just a few of the tears He sheds every day. Tears for the lost. Tears for the broken. Tears for the needy. I’ll never forget the tears that soaked my pillow that morning. God had done something in me. God had broken my heart for Africa.
Before we go there, let me jump into your world for a second and then we’ll make our way back. So, whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us have bought into the philosophy that what we need to finally make us happy is just more of what we already possess. More stuff, more success, more whatever. Let me prove it to you this way. Those of you reading this on an Apple computer know exactly what I’m talking about. Yes, I have a macbook. In annual fashion, Apple will unleash a new line of sleeker, cooler, savvier gadgets that will wow the masses. Mouths will salivate, eyes will sparkle, and wallets will become lighter. It’s just understood that the gadget you bought last year is now archaic, inefficient, and lame. This attitude pervades our culture. And it’s absolute madness. I believe it’s why Christmas has become so commercialized. Acquisition pumps through our veins. Over the next week we will make our way through stores buying things to give to people, all the while knowing we’ll get something back in return. There will be something under the tree with OUR name on it. Something NEWER. Something BIGGER. Something BETTER than the thing we had before. “Maybe THIS will make me happy,” our hearts say. This makes me very sad. There are tremendous and staggering needs in Africa (thousands of children dying every day) while we observe the wonderful Christmas traditions of trading iPods for TV’s in our comfortable, padded lives. Some would respond to that by saying, “That’s just the way the world is.” And I’d say, “You’re right. But it doesn’t have to be!” Somewhere along the way, we decided to close our fists tight and began to hoard. Now I don’t say these things to make us all feel guilty. Guilt is a terrible motivator. What I am offering is a reality check on the way we live our lives. I believe we need open hands, that are willing to give to those in need even if they can do nothing for us in return. Jesus once said to His disciples, “Freely you have received. Freely give.” Those are simple, yet powerful words. What if we took those words and ran with them this Christmas? What if we held onto less and gave away more?
A huge need in Africa right now is CLEAN WATER. Every 15 seconds someone dies from a water related disease. 90 % of these deaths are under the age of 5. As I type these words, children are dying. By the end of this day, thousands will have died. All from lack of clean water. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the sheer numbers. But just think of a child you know. Maybe your son or daughter whom you love very much. Maybe a niece or nephew whom you cherish like they were your own. Think of her sweet little smile. Think of his adorable laugh. If you could save their life by giving them clean water, wouldn’t you do it in a heart beat? There are children right now waiting. Sons and daughters. Nieces and nephews. Just waiting for someone to love them that much. I had the opportunity this fall to raise money and dig a well in an impoverished community in Uganda. I can’t put into words how incredible of an experience it was. Working hand in hand with a Ugandan man who was so excited about receiving clean water he could hardly contain himself. Kicking around a guava fruit like a soccer ball with children who no longer had to fear death because of unsafe water. Looking back, all I can tell you is I’ll never forget the gratitude I saw in their eyes, and being overwhelmed by the heart of God because of it. “This is it,” God whispered in my ear. “This is what it’s all about. GIVING YOUR LIFE AWAY.” Sharing the Gospel not only in our words, but by our deeds. THAT is what it’s all about. The Gospel. Psalm 72: 12-14 says: “For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”
I want to ask you a question. How precious are the poor and needy in your sight? Especially during this Holiday Season. Are we just trading iPods for TV’s this Christmas? Or are we reaching out to those in need with the love of Jesus? Isn’t HE the reason for the whole thing in the first place? There are a host of ways we can help others, even those who are thousands of miles away. Check out some of the links below and see how you can have an impact on the lives of the impoverished this Christmas.
Freely we have received. Freely we should give. I think this could be the best Christmas we’ve ever had.