I’ve spent much time in the last few weeks investigating and researching all sorts of “stuff,” that I think I need to know. In the mornings I turn on the television and do a “quick check” into Facebook which leads me to everything from reading political posts to looking at the vacation pictures of friends. Sometimes my friends Facebook posts direct me to Pinterest. I then get lost in fun things on Pinterest and pretty soon the texting with other friends starts on my phone. In the meantime my TV continues to fill me in on the morning news and before I know it I’ve lost two hours because I’ve been distracted by pretty much–nothing.
Moving on with my day, sometime in mid-morning it’s time to start working on Forever Fed tasks, one of which, was evaluating a new neighborhood to serve meals to on a monthly basis. So a few phone calls and wrong turns later, I find a neighborhood that’s only 2 miles away from my house. I had no idea this neighborhood existed. By the way, I’ve lived in the same home for 13 years.
The living conditions in this neighborhood were horrible and I don’t say this lightly. My daughter and I drove through it and experience something I can only describe as “shock and awe”. As we left she said, “Mom, we live in America, one of the richest nations in the world. How can this happen?” Honestly, I was dumb struck and had no answer for her. I’ve driven hundreds of miles investigating impoverished neighborhoods in Cherokee County Georgia and I’ve been to Africa twice on mission trips and visited third world slums and seen many desperate people in living horrible situations and all this time this small hidden neighborhood has practically been sitting right in my own back yard.
So what’s my next move? My mind is racing, my heart is breaking. What can I do? Where should we start?
I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Susan, you can’t save the world, only God can do that.” Well that’s true, I can’t, but Jesus can.
I have to ponder a few moments to answer my daughter’s question and I ask myself, “How does this happen in America?” and I look in my rear-view mirror, at myself.
It happens because we are really good at hiding our truly impoverished people from the public eye and sometimes we just don’t know they exist. It happens because we believe some problems are too big for us to fix or that it’s the government’s responsibility or someone else’s responsibility to fix them. It happens because we are led to believe we are powerless to affect change because some problems are just too big. And sadly, it happens because people like me are so busy being distracted we just don’t pay attention.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.” Helen Keller
Hunger and poverty lives right in the back of my middle classed backyard, today, right now. I have to act. Where do I start? It’s taken many life lessons for me to grasp this and I’m still working on it today.
- As a Christian, doesn’t Jesus live in me?
- If Jesus lives in me can the Jesus in me bring hope, love, and meals to impoverished neighborhoods?
- Can I instigate change? I’m not really sure. But I know Jesus lives in me and nothing is impossible for Him. This is great news because it takes all of the pressure off of me. I just need to trust Him, pray, and take a step.
Today I will make a stand for the impoverished. I’m going to give myself less opportunity to be distracted by life’s “stuff” and get to work. I’m going to choose to serve my neighbors by empowering both myself and others to bring meals, hope, and a large dose of love to those living on the very fringes of society. While I may miss knowing what my “virtual friends” are doing with their lives, I’ll be meeting and getting to know some new friends face to face.
Because while I’m reading the opinions of my friends on Facebook, researching the politicians in the news, talking about the protesters in front of Chick Fil-a, and wondering if I can make this really neat craft I found on Pinterest, children and their families are going without food, mentally ill individuals are living in filth, and people are suffering. The Jesus in ME has a mighty power to affect change and that change begins with the first step I take, in Jesus’ name, towards a solution. I’m praying some other folks will join me in making a difference.
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.