Giving in 2012

Let’s get the basics out of the way…I strongly encourage you to check out Compassion’s catalog.  You can purchase gifts and make donations that give life and bring God’s love and light to a dark world.  As you read and think about what giving Biblically means in your life, I encourage you to consider Compassion.  They are a fantastic organization doing great work around the world for “the least of these.”  #itsaboutgiving

Question posed:  What does it look like to give Biblically in today’s culture?

Our culture has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, with the boom of technology and growth of the internet.

When I was younger, to give meant getting a name of the giving tree at the local mall or dropping some coins in the Salvation Army bucket.  I was not exposed to the need beyond my community.  I knew it existed, but I didn’t REALLY know the need.

Now, we are bombarded by awareness of need and tragedy.  My Facebook feed has more requests for donations than status updates.  Every time I open my email, I feel the need that exists.

But then are we desensitized by the overwhelming nature of things?  I remember hearing statistics the first time, the shock and horror that I felt.  Now hearing the number of orphans in the world, doesn’t get to me the way that it once did.  Sure, I feel the burden — the desire to be a part of the solution.  But it is different.

So, getting back to the actual subject — giving Biblically.  What I think is most beautiful is that Biblical giving has never really changed.  It’s the same.  God’s expectation’s of us are the same — how they play out is different, but the basis is the same.  And it’s the same for me and you.  God expects us to give sacrificially.  (Check out my post on sacrifice for more thoughts on that.)

We are so blessed.  Abundantly blessed.  Check out this for a great reminder of just how blessed we really are.

In America, we have resources at our fingertips that millions and millions of people around the world, do not have any access to.  Water for instance.  Can you imagine getting through the day, cooking, cleaning, drinking, laundry, dishes, everything — on a couple of gallons of {dirty} water?  That you spent hours hauling for miles?  We think that we have busy lives.  Imagine what you would have to give up if you had to walk a few miles each time you needed some water.  And that using that water could cause your family to become ill, even die.

Question:  When you think of giving, do you feel joy or obligation?  Does handing over that money make you happy?  Or do you give just enough to not really feel the sting?  That you don’t really need it, so it’s ok to share?  What if God asked you to dig a little deeper…to give a little bit or a lot more?  Would you feel joy then?  Is giving money harder to give than purchasing a gift for a needy person?

Think about what God has said about His expectations of your giving (my emphasis):

  • Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~ Deuteronomy 15:10
  • There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. ~ Proverbs 11: 24-25
  • He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. ~ Proverbs 28:27
  • And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” ~ Mark 12:41-44
  • And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” ~ Luke 3:11
  • In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35
  • Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
  • If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? ~ James 2:15-16

Reading God’s Word about giving is refreshing and convicting.  This is truth, no matter our outward circumstances.  We are to meet the needs of others.  Even in our own poverty.  We should give until it hurts (Francis Chan).

I will leave you with these quotes about giving…they are pretty powerful.

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” ~ Richard Braunstein

“Remember this—you can’t serve God and Money, but you can serve God with money.” ~ Selwyn Hughes

“As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Give this Christmas and throughout the year.  I challenge you to follow Francis Chan’s words about Biblical giving and give until it hurts.

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Adoption. God’s Heart for the Fatherless.

National Adoption Day.

So, I can’t remember if I shared this before on here, but I am adopted.  You can imagine then, I think adoption is pretty amazing.  It completely changed my life and rewrote my story.  Someday maybe I’ll share more of my story or if you would like to know more, send me a message…I love to talk about the miracle of my adoption.

And someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), I want to adopt.  I think that my family would not be complete without an adopted child, I believe that God has pressed upon my heart that somewhere out there is a child that was meant to call me “Mommy.”  A child who needs love and family and I can’t wait to meet them.

I have been studying the theology of adoption.  It’s been life changing.  In the adoption world, there is a lot of heated debate on both sides.  The concern of baby-selling, coercion, and exploitation.  The other side concerned about institutionalization, neglect, and an unloved/unwanted child.  And I think both sides are concerned with all of the above…it really comes down to what’s more important and those answers vary.

I think all sides have good points.  Important points.  But I believe that God’s heart is for the Fatherless.  And that He specifically equipped His church to look out for them.  I personally think government has a lot of roles (more on this another day) but that some roles that the government has taken on would be better left to the Church.  But the Church needs to stand up and take back what was given to us by God…a calling to protect the Fatherless, to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress.

Church, we need to stand up.  We cannot sit idle while children go to bed hungry and feeling unloved.  We cannot rest until there is no child uncared for in the world.  Get involved, do SOMETHING.  You can do something wherever you are, with however many (or few) resources you have.

Let’s make National Adoption Day 2013 even bigger!  You have 365 days.  Use them wisely.

Tangible Ways.

There are a lot of ways to serve these kids.  Some are bigger and require a huge commitment, others are smaller.  It’s important to remember that not everyone is called to adopt or work in the developing world, there is so much that you can do right now, right where you are.

Of course, there are the basics that we think of when we think of orphan care.  And these are very important.

  • Adopt a child.
  • Become a foster parent or an emergency foster parent.
  • Volunteer or go on a mission trip to an orphanage overseas.
  • Donate to a reputable ministry or agency who works with orphans.
  • Pray for them.

However, if those are not a possibility in your life right now, there are a lot of creative ways to serve.

To serve local children in foster care:

  • Bring a foster family a meal (or two).
  • Offer to help a foster family with house cleaning, yard work, or shoveling their walk when it snows.
  • Pray for them.
  • Hold a food and necessities drive for the families in your area.
  • If there is a group home, find out if you can hold a game night.
  • Hold a play date for foster families to get together with you and some of your friends.
  • Become a mentor, informally or formally.
  • Become a CASA volunteer.
  • Regularly encourage families who are fostering – send them a card, give them a call, let them know that you are there for them.
  • Become a tutor for a foster child.

To serve in the Church:

  • Coordinate an event for Orphan Sunday (November 3, 2013).
  • Start an orphan care ministry at your church.
  • Plan an event to educate and encourage your church (Faultless is a great movie to show.)
  • Organize a prayer summit for members of your church and community.  Get serious about praying for orphans.

Educate yourself and your community:

  • Learn some of their stories.  Talk to foster or adoptive families about their children’s past.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of orphan care.
  • Host an event and show the movie Faultless.
  • Read Reclaiming Adoption, Kisses From Katie, The Hole in Our Gospel, Crazy Love, just to name a few.
  • Network through social media.
  • Check out great organizations and get involved with them.  (Some great ones are: Lifesong for Orphans, Christian Alliance for Orphans, Together for Adoption.)

Support those who are adopting:

  • Throw them a shower, even if the child is an older child.
  • Offer to babysit so the pa.rents can enjoy some down time.
  • Pray for them

Other good ideas:

  • Reach out to a child who has “aged” out of the system and become a mentor and a friend.
  • Connect with grandparents raising their grandchildren.
  • Let those who are working on the “front lines” of orphan care know that you are thinking of them and keeping them in prayer.

Faultless.

I can’t wait to see this documentary.  I haven’t focused very much on American children waiting to be adopted or even orphans from countries outside of Africa.  I am putting together a list of tangible ways that we can serve orphans together, where ever you happen to be.

I strongly encourage you to check out the documentary Faultless, Christian Alliance for Orphans, and BeUnthinkable.  All great resources!

Out with the Old, In with the New

Lately, I have been doing A LOT of reading and research, along with praying and seeking God’s direction.

I have read literally hundreds of articles about starting a non-profit and running a nonprofit.  They all say about the same thing.  A lot of articles out there are simply saying that you shouldn’t even try.  That is probably true for some.  There are so many small nonprofits who are not sustainable and who struggle every single day, even though they are doing great work.

How will we be any different?  In fact, in some ways, our goal is even more challenging (speaking from a donor standpoint).  And our goal is WAAAY bigger…so big that a lot of people don’t think it’s possible.  (Let’s keep in mind that during history, I am sure a lot of people didn’t think we would send people into space either.)

First off, we are going to choose to ignore about half of the “rules.”  These are great rules for small, incremental change.  We are going big and fast.  No time to waste on slowly building.  We will be single minded (but broad enough to actually address some underlying issues) in our focus.  Serve orphans and their communities.

Sustainability is something I believe in completely.  It isn’t fair to staff or those we serve for an organization to not have a sustainability plan.  But at first, it’s going to be a little rough and perhaps a bit hairy.  Appropriate partnerships and collaboration are going to be one of the keys for our mutual success.  There are other organizations out there who want the same thing that we want, their approach might be different but it also might work.

I think that in life sometimes it’s important to just do it…  I realize the population that we have chosen to serve is vulnerable.  I feel that we must do our due diligence to make sure that we are serving them carefully, prayerfully, and with best practices.  Fast does not have to mean sloppy.  It means moving quickly and seizing opportunities.  Trying new things.  Being pro-active in change.  There are some amazing models out there and I am anxious to get started.

Moving quickly doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind.  It means intense planning.  Studying models that work and then doing them.  Not spending years developing and testing.  It means getting your hands dirty while you study and develop.  These kiddos need families now…the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes.

You only get one chance in this life…and you are not getting out of here alive.

Tears of love and heartache

As I write this, tears keep coming…

I have just received the e-mail from the current director of the orphanage with the photos and stories of the children.  How my heart breaks…I just want to be through with red tape and fundraising and move on to serving and loving these children!  Their beautiful smiles and precious faces…  So many of them have been affected in some way by HIV/AIDS, others from war.  One precious boy is a victim of torture, a story too common in Uganda.  Uganda is home to the longest running war in Africa, it’s not hard to believe that most of these children have been affected by that some way.  Some found, abandoned on the road or in the streets.  Stories of rape.  Stories of death.  Suffering.  Malnutrition.  Walking over a mile to school and back and they consider themselves LUCKY to go to school!

I find it so frustrating that we here in America complain about the littlest things.  Minor inconveniences.  A red light, slow internet, slow service at a restaurant.  We should count it all joy!  Sometimes it seems impossible to motivate others to care.  To open their wallet for the sake of another.  To give a bit of time.  To sacrifice a meal and donate the money.  These children eat once a day…and that consists of maize porridge.  When will we start putting the least of us ahead of ourselves?  I do not find very many Christians any more willing than non-Christians.  That breaks my heart.

I challenge you today.  Inconvenience yourself for another.   It doesn’t matter if it’s for American orphans or Ugandan orphans or the homeless or the elderly.  Just give of yourself, for the glory of God.  Count it all joy when you are persecuted!  Bless someone because you, dear one, have been mightily blessed and are highly favored by the King of Kings.