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.

Help women and girls. Females often suffer more from poverty than males do, since they’re more likely to be oppressed. Also, helping women and girls often creates a ripple effect of positive change, such as decreasing disease and infant mortality rates and increasing gross domestic product and civic participation rates in nations where they live. So do whatever you can to help empower women and girls who are living in poverty.

Help people who need access to clean water. Clean water is vital to a healthy life. When poor people lack access to it, they become sick and often die. Not only do people need clean water for drinking, but they also need it for such important activities as bathing, growing crops for food, generating electricity, and maintaining ecosystems where they live. When you help poor people get the clean water they need, you show them love in action that points them to Jesus – living water for their souls.

Fight injustice. Speak up and stand up for poor people who are being oppressed and mistreated. Do whatever you can to help them get the freedom, protection, and justice God wants them to have. Ask God to help you be outraged, loud, and bold as you help the poor, so others will pay attention to your efforts and hopefully join you.

Focus on both bodies and souls. While evangelism is valuable, people in need won’t really pay much attention to the spiritual help you give them unless you help them with their pressing physical needs first. Keep in mind that they won’t care how much you know until you they know how much you care. But when you minister to poor people holistically – both body and soul – you can give them real hope.

Be willing to keep taking risks. You can’t stay safe and still play a significant part in helping poor people; you have to be willing to take whatever risks God calls you to take. Don’t let two factors that commonly stop people from helping others – time pressures and fear – hold you back from doing what God wants you to do to help the poor. Take action whenever you sense God calling you to do so, even when you’re busy or afraid, and rely on the power that God will give you to overcome those obstacles.

Adapted from Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time,copyright 2012 by Noel Brewer Yeatts. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.

Noel Brewer Yeatts is the vice president of World Help (http://www.worldhelp.net/), a faith-based humanitarian organization that serves the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world. She also directs an initiative of World Help called causelife (http://causelife.org/), a movement of people dedicated to providing the most essential need to human life: clean water. Her work has taken her around the world to document the gripping stories of those affected by HIV/AIDS, hunger, poverty, and disease. The coauthor of two books and a noted speaker, Yeatts challenges thousands across the nation at universities, churches, conferences, and special events. She lives in Virginia.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.

Publication date: June 11, 2012