Blog Action Day: Poverty
Yesterday was a financially stressful day for Bryan and I. We got an unexpected yearly bill from the electric company (long story), we found out that we largely underestimated what we owe on our 2007 taxes (even longer story), and the tenant renting our condo in the states told us he would not be able to finish out the lease as he will be relocating within a month. Honestly, even with our recent job loss and the reduced income we have been living on I hadn’t really felt truly panicky until last night.
Then this morning I remembered that today is Blog Action Day and that the topic for this year is Poverty. As I read the list of 88 Ways to DO Something About Poverty Right Now and glanced through some of the headings for the blogs people are writing about this topic I was humbled. I might not know how I’m going to pay this month’s mortgage, but there are many around the world who don’t even have a roof over their heads. The meals on my table lately might be made up of pretty simple fair with lots of beans and rice and oatmeal, but there are many around the world who don’t have any food on their table and who would give anything for the simple meals my husband and I enjoy. I might have been surprised by an unexpected electricity bill, but there are many around the world who have lived without electricity their whole lives. My worry was suddenly put in sharp perspective.
Thinking about the severe and real poverty all over the world was overwhelming though. It seems sometimes like the problem is so big, what can I do about it? And especially what can I do about it right now in my life when I am currently jobless and watch what little I have in the bank dwindling every day? Well, two things came to mind…
First, I can change my attitude from one of worried hoarding, to one of generosity and trust. I have always tried to act generously and have always felt like I was a fairly generous person, but as finances have gotten tighter it has gotten harder and harder for me to continue to live openhandedly. I have always firmly believed that everything I own isn’t really mine anyway, it is God’s and he has just entrusted it to me for a time. But, now that belief is really being tested and it is much harder to really act on that belief than ever before. I believe that God calls us to be generous people like His Son, Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” The Message describes it this way in John 1, “We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding – all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.” Jesus gave up everything for us and has given everything to us, “gift after gift after gift”. And I believe that he calls us to live that way as well. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2). It made me think of this old hymn from 1897,
O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep in my heart. O to be like Thee! Full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering...
That’s my prayer today. I don’t want to have an attitude of stinginess, and worry. I want to be like Jesus. I want to have an attitude of generosity and openhandedness even at a time in my life when I feel that there is nothing in my hand to give.
The second thing I realized today was that there are a lot of ways to fight poverty that don’t require having money. So, here are a few ideas for you and for me:
1. Go to thehungersite.com and click on the big “Click Here to Give –it’s FREE” button. This site is a store that offers free trade items and donates the proceeds to fighting hunger. But, their sponsors also donate a cup of food for every click of the big button at the top of the page. It doesn’t cost you anything and it takes less than a minute to do. So make a commitment to clicking the button once a day for a week (or longer) and then look around the site and buy something if you want to do even more good.
2. Go to freerice.com and play their vocabulary game for a little while. “For each answer you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to help end hunger.” It doesn’t cost you anything and you can learn some stuff in the process. Make a goal to visit the site ever day and play long enough to fill 5 bowls of rice or more. It won’t take that much of your time, it will improve your vocabulary and it will fight hunger around the world.
3. If you read this before the end of the day today go to the Pink Asparagus Blog and leave a comment. For every comment that she gets by October 15th she will donate $1 to her local food bank (sorry, I wasn’t able to tell you all about this one earlier, but I just found it).
4. Take some time to find out about your local food bank and spend some time volunteering there if they need volunteers.
5. Volunteer your time with any local charity that you care about.
6. Read more ideas Here
EDIT: Also check out Good Search. It's a really neat site - You pick a school or charity that you want to donate to and then they donate to that charity every time you search using their search engine.
There’s lot of other things you can do to fight poverty, but those are a few things I thought of that don’t require spending any money. Since money isn’t something I have to give right now I was interested to find these easy ways to make a difference without money. I encourage you to also check out the Blog Action Day web page and see what other people are saying about Poverty.
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany