Thursday, June 7, 2007

Need Comes in Different Shapes and Sizes

This post is something that I've been pondering lately. It seems to me that it has become very trendy to talk about caring for the poor. (watch the pendulum swing.....) All of the sudden, Christians have taken up this cause, and especially in rich Christian America everyone has begun talking about what we can do. Please don't misunderstand, I think this is fantastic and necessary. It's very cool whenever we are stirred to love God's creation a little better. It's a wonderful thing to force ourselves outside of our comfort zones and think a little harder about how we live. I'm a huge fan of it. I love the idea that we might actually be able to make a difference in the lives of others.
The answer we usually come up with is a way to make some money to give to the people who know what they are doing. We send our money off to faraway places and feel better about not buying that new electronic so someone else's kid can eat. The job is on its way to being done.

I sponsor some children through a great organization called Compassion International. It couldn't be easier. They automatically take my money every month. If I wanted to, I would never have to think about these children again, but my money would still be going to them. Fortunately, that is not Compassion's goal. Do you know why? Because more than the money, it is the relationship that is paramount in the sponsorship. Compassion asks me to pray for these children. They ask me to write them letters. They have the children write letters to me. They even encourage me to go visit them. In essence, they want me to invite these children to be a real part of my life, to take a chunk of my heart. This is where the change takes place. This is where the cycle of poverty is broken. This is love.

I venture to say, to an American, money is not the most precious commodity to give, it is time. In a fantastic book I read recently (fiction!), Quaker Summer,author Lisa Samson called it "a ministry of presence."

So, the thing that got me thinking about all of this was the book The Nanny Diaries. I knew it had been made into a movie and I was looking for the release date. I read a review that said the only good thing about the movie was the relationship between the nanny and her charge. And I thought, well yes, that was the best part of the book as well. In fact, that book, which could be written off as mindless chick lit, tugged at my heart a lot when I read it. Because in so many ways it was the story of a boy who had every possible physical comfort, but lacked the thing he needed the most...the love of his parents.

Need, my dear friends, exists everywhere around us. In America, it is sometimes veiled. We don't always see it so clearly. But it is here, with us, growing bigger the more we try to quiet it with all the wrong things. If we really want to make a difference, we probably have to look no further than our neighbor. I think we often look to the big projects of missions or world aid and ignore the ministry of presence that is asking for us right in our own backyard.

Again, don't misunderstand. I think it's our responsibility to care for the poor. To feed the hungry. To love the unloved. All over the world. Every inch of it.


ldperez said...

Well said, Amy. I'm convicted. I too easily get annoyed at my neighbor instead of loving him/her the way I should. You should consider writing for a magazine!

Amy said...

I don't think I could meet the word count. I'm too shortwinded. It was always a problem in school for me too....but thanks!!!!

kathryn said...

Amy, you're so right. . thank you for writing that.

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