Monday, September 26, 2011

Calling All Happy Meal Toys!

Right now, I know of several shipments of rice and beans that are making their way from the U.S. to Mexico to be distributed to poor people (seriously...). Bibles are being distributed in a South American village to people that cannot even read and there is no one there willing or able to teach them how to read (you might as well give them toilet paper). More disposable diapers are being collected and will soon be shipped to Ethiopia in addition to those that are already there waiting to be distributed (yeah...because that is a real need) . And those are just a few of the things I've personally heard about in the last couple of weeks.

This is one of those posts. You know the ones. Where I say the same things I've been saying for years. The only difference is that with each post, I care a little less about who I am going to offend and a little more about those being hurt by these so-called good deeds.

I am far from where I should be on all of this. God knows I have made some serious mistakes along the way and there are bound to be plenty more. I'm back in Guatemala with a team in two weeks and there will no doubt be a time during that trip when I realize we've done something we probably shouldn't and will pray that it won't further damage or divide an already divided community. What I know is so minimal in comparison to many, but here is what I do know...

Mexico doesn't need our shipments of rice and beans. There is plenty of food there for everyone. Some people just can't afford to pay for it. Ethiopia doesn't need our disposable diapers. They aren't used when we aren't there and pollute an already polluted country. People that cannot read do not need Bibles full of words they do not understand. No explanation needed. Guatemala. Haiti. Ghana. Cambodia. Thailand. India. Colombia. Honduras. Uganda. And on and on and on....

The world doesn't need your hand-me-down, worn out shoes. It doesn't need the shirts in your closet that are too big or the pants in your kid's closet that are too small. It doesn't need your once a year food hand out and it doesn't need your child's happy meal toys.

What the world needs is your sacrifice, but not the kind of sacrifice you may think.

The world needs hope...the kind of hope that comes from Jesus alone. If the poorest person in the world had nothing, but hope in eternal life, he would have every thing. But I really don't think Jesus wants us to stop at sharing the Gospel. I believe with every thing in me that He wants to see His people rise up and be free from the injustice and oppression that is caused by poverty. What is needed to break those chains?

The world needs you to sacrifice your need to feel good about doing good through your simple handouts that require no sacrifice at all. If that didn't make sense, I'll make it a little more clear.

Donating your used stuff isn't a sacrifice. It may make you feel good to be doing something for the poor, but it is not a sacrifice. And that something you're doing isn't helping someone in need. It's hurting them. That something good is keeping them oppressed, keeping them in poverty, robbing them of whatever little dignity they may have left. But you keep cleaning out your closets and packing boxes and shipping them all over the world. For what? Just so you can feel good? So you can say you did something?

It's OK if you don't believe me. I'm just speaking from what I've seen first hand and that's just been in the last couple of years. I can only imagine what I will be saying years from now.

You know that old saying, "Something is better than nothing..."? It isn't true in every case.

Here's the question. Would you rather help people step out of poverty, live full lives and have no need for your help at all or would you rather see them stay in poverty so you can continue to send your yearly food basket and toy and blanket to them because that means you're doing something to help your fellow man?

In this case, nothing is so much better than something.

And one more thing, in case I haven't said enough already. Carefully consider the organizations your support. If you are a Christian and the organization(s) you support are not ACTIVELY sharing the Message of Christ, what hope are you really giving? There is nothing that can be given that is as important as the hope of eternal life. Nothing.

Apparently my tangent will never end. And until we all get on the same page...where educating, equipping and empowering those in the developing world is done more often than aid distribution, poverty and this orphan crisis that we find ourselves dealing with never will either.