There is something cool about how “small” technology has made our world. A few years back I had the privilege of performing a marriage ceremony for a great couple, but prior to their wedding, they lived in different countries and their pre-marital counseling was going to be a challenge. Thanks to technology we could Skype our weekly sessions while one of them lived in Israel, one lived in Pennsylvania and I was living in Oregon at the time. Technology shrunk the distance instantly. This morning I pulled up global information on my morning news feed. I watched a video from the Middle East, saw pictures from a friend in Amsterdam and read an article from a friend in the Ukraine. 15 years ago, that info was not a mouse click away, but today it’s instantaneous. In a moment we can be caught up in the beauty of this world, in the happenings of friends and family and in the special events that connect our lives.
And in the next instant we can be made aware of the broken world in which we live.
The smallness of our world has also brought to light some of the horrors of the global community. Everyday we read of the spread of terror across the globe. Everyday we read about the plight of people living without healthy food or clean drinking water. Everyday we are bombarded with political scandals, partisan half-truths and stories of the tragic loss of life. Every day we can see the best and the worst this world has to offer.
Prior to the explosion of social media, I honestly think ignorance was welcomed by many of us when it came to matters of global crisis. In one sense, it was just harder to get information. Unless you read about African poverty in a magazine or newspaper article, or saw a news special on TV about deplorable drinking water in Central America, the issue just wasn’t front and center. I remember in the early 90s when “We are the World” was a popular song, trying to bring awareness to some global issues that most of us were happily ignorant about!
Today, the access to knowledge about these problems forces a choice on us: We can choose to respond and do something, or we can choose to actively do nothing. But now we know, and pleading ignorance is no longer an option.
* Our friends Andy and Jodie were so moved by the problem of poor drinking water, they organized their church’s annual Christmas gift-drive to help villages dig fresh water wells. Two (or three?) times Andy led trips to the villages where they helped dig the wells and then celebrate with the villagers who had fresh water in their village for the first time, ever!
* My friend Justin was appalled by the human slavery issue, so he set out to learn more. Not only is it problematic in other countries, it’s disgusting reach is present here in the U.S., too. He reached out to civic leaders, has been invited to meetings and is making a difference.
* Two young ladies in Portland, Oregon, got passionate about helping the homeless in their community. What started as a few gift bags for homeless sign-holders on the corner, turned into a global movement called, “H2O: Help to Others.”
* In my home town, Salem, Oregon, a high school student was so moved by a study that revealed that homeless teenagers perform significantly better in school when they have new clothes they’re not embarrassed to wear, so this teenager decided to launch a campaign to raise awareness. They sold shirts that had a simple motto printed on them: “Give a Shirt”. Following the Tom’s shoe model, for every “Give a Shirt” purchased, a free shirt was given to a homeless teen.
The examples could go on and on, but the point is simple: when you know what could be done, and when your heart has been moved to do something, are you willing to get involved? The book of James reminds us that it’s not enough to be aware and simply do nothing. And while we can’t help in all the problem areas we become aware of, we can certainly get involved in one...or two!
My wife had her heart touched by the issue of sex trafficking, and so in June, she will be taking a 10-day trip to Thailand to help the women, young girls and children that are caught up in this perverse slavery. Learn more about her trip here, where you can also offer to support her in prayer and in finances.
Living the Overboard life requires an active response to the movement of God in our lives. Is there an area of your life where you feel compelled by God to act, but you haven’t taken the first step yet? Are you looking at the massive nature of a problem and unsure of where to start? Let me assure you, most issues can’t be solved by one person taking action, but a big dent can be made when many of us link arms and choose to move the same direction. Take the first step (learn more, attend a meeting, send an email, donate time/money to an organization already doing the work, take an exploration trip, contact a local civic leader, etc...) and see where the adventure ends!
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!