Wake Up to the World's Needs
- Monday, June 11, 2012
Editor's note: This article is a report on the practical applications of Noel Brewer Yeatts' new book, Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time (Baker Books, 2012).
If you have a home and access to food, clean water, clothing, medical care, and education, you’re better off than the more than one billion people on Earth who live in poverty. Each one within that huge mass of people is a soul who God made and loves. Each poor person is someone whom God is calling the faithful to help.
Yet far too many Christians fail to help the poor because their comfortable lifestyles have insulated them from the suffering of others. Are you one of those who has become numb to the pain that poverty is causing so many people in the world?
If the plight of the poor doesn’t move you to help them, you’re not living the faithful life God wants you to live. God calls all Christians to wake up to the reality of the suffering that so many people endure and take action to help them. Here’s how you can wake up to the world’s needs:
Open your eyes. Notice how much you do or don’t really see the poor people you encounter or learn about on the news. Consider whether or not you truly see yourself in their eyes and in their pain. Ask God to help you see what He wants you to see when you look at poor people. Pray for the ability to feel the spiritual connection that you have to them, and to have compassion for them. Ask God to give you the perspective you need to look beyond your own self-absorption and care about the pain that others are going through. Pray that God would break your heart about what breaks His heart.
Figure out what you can’t stand. Spend some time reflecting on what poverty-related issues in the world bother you the most. What is it that you can’t stand? Whether it’s abandoned children, homelessness, oppression, health problems, or something else, figure out what disturbs you deeply. Then research that specific issue and pray about it, asking God to show you how He wants you to become part of the solution to it.
Start with just one. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the huge magnitude of the problems of poverty in our fallen world. There are so many poor people struggling with so many issues that it can be hard to imagine how you can really help solve the problem through just your own efforts. While it’s true that you can’t help all poor people, you certainly can help one. So ask God to lead you to one poor person to start helping, and from there, you may then help some other people. Even if you end up helping just one poor person, that will still change the world for the better, because all people are connected and one person’s transformation will affect others.
Invest your resources into what matters most. Make decisions about how to use your resources (time, money, energy, etc.) according to what’s most valuable from an eternal perspective. Keep in mind that, eternally, the size of your house and the type of car you drive or clothes you wear won’t matter at all – but what will matter is whether or not you’ve helped poor people. Every day, try to do at least one thing that will outlive you and last for eternity.
Be confident that your efforts can be enough. Even though you’re just one person, your work helping poor people can make a significantly positive difference in the state of the world’s poor. Your individual efforts do matter, and only God knows how far your good work will reach as it multiplies among people whose lives are changed because of you.
Help children. While it’s worthwhile to help all poor people, helping children can have an even greater impact that helping poor adults, because children whose lives are transformed often then powerfully change the future for the better. Poor children are also especially vulnerable, so they especially need help from people who care about them.
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