Chapter 14 Finally The Good News

StarfishWhat a breath of fresh air. Fresh air and an incredible reminder and challenge that could shake our core. I loved this chapter (again). As harsh and hard as the last few chapters were I am always so thankful for how Rich sets it up and reminds us that “we must not, as Christians, stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the world is doing just fine because we are.”

Our reality is just that, our reality. It’s a good reminder. I loved most the two most basic reminders of actions we can take. We are NOT to sit here just pitying the poor. We must take action. And that action doesn’t need to be big and grandiose in the lives of the world, just of one person – the one we can impact.

It is possible to change the world’s realities, and that is exactly what God has challenged us to do. This is what it means to be “salt and light” in a dark and bleak world (Matthew 5:13-14). It’s what the Great Commission was all about.

Do something. A common running theme. The most impactful theme I’ve ever encountered.

And prayer. This is not just a physical battle, there are spiritual forces at work here. There is a legitimate battle taking place that we often can’t see – only the effects of such. We must pray.

And prayer is not the domain of the United Nations or of the governments of the world. Only the faith community can draw upon the power of God through prayer.

That’s on us. Again, two powerful messages to me in my mind. 1. Do something. 2. Pray. Call upon the most powerful force there is and ever will be. He is there. We must pray and we must act. Together, in tandem.

This is heavy on my heart and mind as I prepare to leave for Haiti. Remember when I said I was going to do it? Well, I am. Saturday as a matter of fact. What God has in store for me I don’t know. I pray I get to make an impact. I pray I can make a difference. And as selfish as it sounds, I look forward to what God has to teach me. My world needs to be rocked a little. I’ve been reading about it and doing what I can from the comfort of my own home – it’s time to get a little dirty, a little uncomfortable, a little real.

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Chapter 13 Spiders Spiders and More Spiders

I wanted to stop turning the pages. This is a chapter where I wanted to turn the channel. Rich has done a great job up until now of presenting facts but keeping things light. I think at some point though he needed to deliver the rest of the facts. The rest of the actual reality that the world faces that we don’t know about and quite frankly don’t want to know about. This was chapter 13. (I did peek ahead and the title of Ch 14 is “Finally, the good news” – I can’ wait!)

Absolute favorite quote that got me through what seemed to be a sea of drowning individuals and circumstances, Bob Pierce

Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.

I loved the additional microfinance stories, incredibly uplifting and a challenge for me personally to find ways to invest in such causes. The issue of gender made my heart hurt. Some parts literally made me nauseous. No, that’s keeping it too PC, some parts made my stomach literally turn, I tasted bile and had to force myself to keep reading instead of running to the restroom to throw up.

  • Little girls growing up in developing countries are more likely to die before turning five – I have a five year old. Prayse. The light of my life.
  • Two -thirds of the world’s eight hundred million illiterate are women
  • More apt to be forced to marry before age 16 and be the victim of sexual and domestic abuse
  • Some two million children, mostly girls as young as five years old are part of the growing commercial sex trade around the world. This is the point where I wanted to run to that restroom I mentioned. Prayse again was so vivid in my mind. And this is many parents’ reality. My heart hurts for them.

As a woman, I got defensive, my pride and my ego were hurt when I read that

Women own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. They also work two-thirds of all the world’s labor hours, but ean just 10 percent of the world’s wages.

I am not really a feminist but I got pissed at this. I am waiting for the information and the specifics on how I can help this piece because it ticks me off. One of my favorite quotes was from the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan

No tool for development is more effective than the empowerment of women.

Nice. Love it.

That was my focus but if someone can please address the story of Margaret, who’s nose, ears and lips were cut off while six months pregnant when the Lord’s Resistance Army came to their village as she was working in the garden. How she ever encountered her attacker later and drew upon the strength of Jesus Christ to forgive him… well, I don’t know. It’s beyond me. I was 100% humbled however as I think back to certain grudges that I am struggling to 100% let go and let our God handle. For 100% true and real forgiveness. It seems so petty now.

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Chapter 12 The Horsemen of the Apocalypse

FOURHORSEMENIf we are willing to take up the fight.

I am holding on to this one statement, this one half of a sentence. In a deep, intense chapter filled with reality of what is wreaking havoc on our world, things we are aware of but choose to tune out because of the enormity of the situation and seemingly hopeless causes that are ruining an entire generation, I choose to hold on to the hope (because there is hope) only IF we are willing to take up the fight.

I asked myself at the end, “Are you willing Tiff?”

Ready to dig in?

Hunger and Thirst and Malaria, TB, and AIDS
The patties in Haiti, made with dirt, mud, oil, and sugar. This is what people are eating. Anything in an attempt to quiet down their stomachs. To fake out their bodies for a short period of time. What I have underlined is the effects of hunger not just on the body,

Hunger also affects the human spirit. Perhaps most destructive of all is the desperation felt by parents who know that there will be no food today, and likely none tomorrow, to satisfy their hungry children. This horror gnaws at the heart…

It would gnaw at mine. The thought of it seems like a lion crouching in the darkness, waiting to attack. To be faced with this nightmare of a reality, not for me but for my children, is what breaks my heart yes for the children in the ads who are clearly emaciated, but for their parents who are watching, wanting to provide and protect and simply cannot.

I am struck over and over again how the effects of these things are literally changing the next generation of this world. For the worse! What are we doing? We are watching the next generation be cut down, be impaired mentally, never having the chance to live up to their full potential and any one of these kiddos could be the one who inspires the world to do something about this, to eradicate it all! And we are letting them be impacted beyond repair (all of the below are quotes directly from the chapter).

  • 350 to 400 million children are hungry, producing a whole generation of adults with compromised mental abilities.
  • Women and children in developing countries invest two hundred million hours a day fetching water (usually infested with diseases that kill many). That’s equal to a full time workforce of twenty-five million people fetching water eight hours a day, seven days a week.
  • One in every thirteen people become sick with malaria. The loss of productivity is debilitating.
  • Each week AIDS takes more than ten times as many lives as the United States lost in the first five years of the war in Iraq.

BUT there is hope, if we are willing to take up the fight

  • The world can and does produce enough food to feed all of its 6.7 inhabitants. The causes for why it’s not reality are many (climate, political corruption, etc.) but the reality is that it can happen. It will take smart people working together and major life change in many but it can happen!
  • In Gbum Gbum the presence of one well increased the schools attendance from 40 to 400. The women in this community were selling shea butter for a profit (even to Bath and Body Works) and the men had improved crop yields. How? Their entire day was not spent getting water.
  • Here is a resource page of other ministries dedicated to drilling wells and providing clean water throughout the world: Water Well Drilling Ministries.
  • One of the most effective interventions for malaria is a $10 insecticide-treated bed nets.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to completely eradicate malaria.
  • Former Uganda president, Yoweri Museveni declared war on AIDS as a threat to Uganda’s future and security. Through those efforts HIV infections decreased from 21% in 1991 to 6% in 2000.

The battle is a winnable war if we are willing to take up the fight.

Are we willing?

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Chapter 11 Caught in the Web

Spider_web_with_dew_drops04This is one of those chapters that has stayed with me throughout this year after reading it for the first time. This chapter to me is a symbol of hope, of how one little thing called hope and it’s cousin, empowerment, can change an entire family, community, town.

This quote by Rich set it all up for me

Perhaps the greatest mistake commonly made by those who strive to help the poor is the failure to see the assets and strengths that are always present in people and communities no matter how poor they are.

The story of Rodrick changed my life. I have been involved in some micro-lending projects before and really didn’t think much about it. But now, now I am wondering if maybe this is one of the main ways I would like to get involved. To give people a chance to not just have a handout, but a small micro-loan to start their own business. To empower them. A small loan to purchase bolts of cloth ended up getting paid back and ELEVEN businesses were formed. Eleven. The entire community was changed.

I am inspired by a man I have never met who lives in Zambia.

Here are a few options in case you are interested in getting involved:

World Vision Microlending.

Hosean International Microlending.

Kiva

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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.

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Chapter 9 One Hundred Crashing Jetliners

three-hundred-dollars1I cried by the end of this chapter. Kids are so personal to me, they grab my heart and don’t let go. The sheer numbers of the people who are dying everyday and ever year (10 million children – preventable) are of course mind blowing. Rich said when discussing why the world is not taking notice, why we have chosen not to help although we could, “Perhaps one reason is that these kids who are dying are not our kids; they’re somebody else’s.” My heart stopped for a moment.

The story of Vikas, a little boy who’s legs had both been amputated after his house fell on him during the earthquake in India in 2001. The story of a desperate mother who rushed toward a car pulling away because she heard an American was in town and hoping he could help. Help her son. It made me want to weep. Rich made is to personal with these two sentences:

Believing that He could help – isn’t that what all grieving parents did when Jesus passed through their village? Like the father who approached Jesus, knelt before Him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son”? (Matthew 17:15)

If that were Prayse or Xavier I’d do anything. Anything and everything. Desperate to give my babies a life they deserve living.

It cost $300.

$300 to allow this little boy another surgery and then prosthetic limbs. Did you get that? Three. Hundred. Dollars. I have more than that budgeted this month to finish up Christmas shopping.

I have read this before and yet I am still stopped in my tracks. Thinking here in the US this would be thousands upon thousands of dollars and there is just no way I could help. Oh but I can. Three hundred dollars.

God can take anything and make it big, he can change a life which will change the world. We just must do something. It’s still that simple message. Do something. Do anything, as long as you I am doing something.

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Chapter 8 The Greatest Challenge of the New Millennium

This chapter is really where the rubber meets the road. It takes away our excuses one by one that generations before us have had and then asks, “Will you do anything about it?” It was the quotes of extremely bright men that really made me stop and think. Such as Albert Einstein:

More and more I come to value charity and love of one’s fellow above everything else… All our lauded technological progress – our very civilization – is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal.

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. Is it that we are doing nothing with the technological progress that we could to shape our world? Is the lack of something equal the crime? Could be. Can we get charged for knowing a child is being abused and doing nothing about it? Is this what is happening? Children, being abused by their circumstances, dying before the age of five because of the zip code they were born into?

Bono, another great. Who would have thought that a rock star could and would be the voice of reason? But he is.

We can be the generation that no longer accepts that an accident of latitude determines whether a child lives or dies – but will we be that generation? Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring softly in our ears? Fifteen thousand people dying needlessly every day from AIDS, TB, and malaria. Mothers, fathers, teachers, farmers, nurses, mechanics, children. This is Africa’s crisis. That it’s not on the nightly news, that we do not treat this as an emergency – that’s our crisis.

Future generations flipping through these pages will know whether we answered the key question. The evidence will be the world around them. History will be our judge, but what’s written is up to us. We can’t say our generation didn’t know how to do it. We can’t say our generation couldn’t afford it. and we can’t say our generation didn’t have reason to do it. It’s up to us.

I am big with this concept of leaving a legacy. It’s a big deal to me. I strive everyday to build that legacy in a variety of forms – my character, integrity, financial security, truth about things, a foundation of faith, etc. I want to build something that generations after me will be positively influenced by. Is it no different than doing this with the world?

We simply can NOT claim ignorance. That excuse was taken away long long ago, before the internet, international flights, CNN, etc. “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was asked. And He answered. Now, what will we do about it?

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