Chapter 10 What’s Wrong With This Picture

I’m struggling with this one a little bit this morning. In a few ways really. Rich did a fantastic job setting the stage and discussing his love/hate relationship with statistics and how statistics really begins to obscure the humanity, the dignity, and worth of children. Statistics take away their names and stories and cheapens the value of each individual child. He was so right. They do. I don’t know that I can do just a quick review and what I have taken away from this chapter justice. I was convicted on many aspects and to try to summarize them all may seem really disconnected and not get across the point of what we can learn through this amazing chapter. But, I will try.

A research study in 2006 highlighted a fundamental flaw (my opinion, not Rich’s) in us as humans and how we process suffering, how we compartmentalize it and still be able to function with what is seemingly an overwhelming problem. Individuals were divided into three groups. One group was told the story of a little girl in Africa, the second was told about four million people in Africa who were homeless and suffering. The third group was told both. At the end they were asked to donate to the cause.

Who gave more?

The first group. The group who could identify the problem with a person. The third group gave only slightly above the second, who ultimately gave the least amount.

I think, this is why I so believe in child sponsorship. It takes this massive problem, and breaks it down into a soul. A soul I sponsored-kidscan love on and pray for and who’s story is now a part of mine. “They” are no longer a statistic to me. “They” are mine. Not technically, but they are the way I can make a difference. I think the other reason I believe so heavily in it is because it is much like the proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” At a task that seems so overwhelming you feel like walking away, the answer is “One bite at a time.”

How do we even begin to make an impact on the 26,575 children who die each day from preventable causes?? One at a time. And it matters. Do something. It matters. The three over here on the right are “ours”. Our loveys we get the privilege  of praying for, of following through school, of letters and pictures (from the youngest), of meeting one day.

There is much much more I can and want to comment on. But I just come back to having to make it personal. What would I do as a Mom if our circumstances are not what they are now? Living in middle America in a time where my family as a multi-racial family is welcomed and accepted (by most people – by all the ones who matter). With the chance of an education and a chance to do something with it, with water that comes from the tap when I turn it on. What would I do? Anything. Everything. There is no limit to what I would do so that my children would survive, the hope they would one day thrive.

who-lives-on-what The other big take away is actually a stat. But beyond, it is what the stat  means. The average income in America is $38,611 per person. And that’s just the average. But it equates to $105 a day. This is what it means to the rest of the world. This is OUR country and how we compare just on average to the rest of the world.

The biggest take away to me is that as someone who takes my faith seriously. What will I do about this? God did not leave us with the option of doing nothing. Not if we are who we say we are. I really want to quote the entire passage from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 but it’s kind of long. Please go read it. If you allow it to, it will change your perspective and perhaps actions.

My favorite one-liners from the passage:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good word.

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

It’s action. Faith not through works, but accompanied with works. Works that make a difference. This is how the world will stand up and wonder, “Who’s this Jesus guy they speak of?” The talk without the walk will make no difference.

If you are curious about ways to help I did put a few options (just a few out of the many many out there) on my blog. You can access that here.

I think the main point as always is to not feel bad about what we have, our circumstances. We are just where we need to be and should never be made to feel guilty or convicted about what we have accomplished or been given. We do have an opportunity to help someone else however and ultimately we will be asked by the God of the universe what we did with what we were given. I don’t want to be nervous about that conversation.



Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel

2 responses to “Chapter 10 What’s Wrong With This Picture

  1. Allison

    I also really liked Rich’s explanation of his dislike for statistics and how it depersonalizes situations. I’m sure I would have fallen right in the pattern in the study, giving most if I had heard the story of the girl rather than the numbers. I also really appreciated his discussion for the negative stigmas that come along with words like “poverty” and “poor”. I get so frustrated when I hear people lump poor people into catagories like lazy and stupid. I mean, sure, lazy and stupid people exist. They exist amongst all income levels. And I thought he differentiated well between what poverty means in America, where we supposedly have all kinds of opportunity and in less fortunate countries where poverty can be a direct result of lack of resources available. The quote from Bill Clinton really helps to illustrate the frustrations of these individuals “The connection between how hard they work and the result they will get has been broken.” When you look at the list that Rich provided about his own personal life and all the favorable circumstances he happened upon, it helps me to look at my own life and see just how darn good I have had it so far compared to folks who have no access to education, clean water, basic health care…
    Tiffany, I also loved the 2 Corinthians versus. All of them. I may need to go read that book again.
    I think I kind of jumped all over the place, but I really liked this chapter a lot.

    • We must have the same thought patterns b/c I followed your jumps all over the place 🙂 I so appreciated how Rich set up this chapter as well w/ the stats and talking about how complex “poverty” is and that we cannot throw just one thing, money, schools and say, “Jobs done!” b/c that’s not the way it works.

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