Every summer when I was little, my parents loaded me down with bug spray, sunscreen and stamps and sent me off to camp. It was there I developed an interest in missions, sign language, foreign countries, saris and helping people.
Time passed and as most kids do, I “outgrew” the fundamental spiritual lessons I learned at camp. I became a hardened twenty-something who thought the world owed her a living (or at least a fun job). It wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered my compassion.
While at Auburn, I attended (hit and miss) the First Baptist Church of Opelika. It was during one of their Sunday morning collegiate worship services, that I learned about human trafficking. For those unfamiliar with the term think the movie “Taken.” Trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings. This may be for the purpose of forced labor, sexual exploitation or reproductive slavery.
Que life changing way of thinking.
I was appalled to learn that slavery still existed. I don’t know why I didn’t categorize prostitution under slavery in my little pea-brain before then, but it suddenly became crystal clear. A grave injustice was being done, and not just abroad. It was here in the States.
It was this revelation and further research that brought me to a crossroad. These people are like me. They are average, poor, black, white, tan, male, female, adult, child… yet, they are just like me. No one deserves their treatment, but many people look down on them because of their current state, a circumstance that is often out of their control.
A total mind change, that’s what I was in for, that small call to action in church one day led me to re-evaluate how I thought of people; stereotypes, racism, class divisions–things that aren’t important when another person is hurting. And so my research expanded…
One day, while researching recent military actions across the pond, I came across Africa Stories. Reading the stories of horrific crime, genocide, rape and starvation, I was convicted. Those people did not choose that life, they were born into it just as I had been born into “white southern privilege” here in the States. Their stories haunted and humbled me. Why are we (I) still bound by color? These people are hurting. What could we do? What could I do? How could I help?
After struggling with this for weeks, I decided to write this post, partially to clear my mind, partially to create awareness. There are people, like us that bleed red, that are suffering. They are mothers, fathers, orphans, grandparents, husbands and wives. They are like us and they are in need.
But maybe you’re like me, maybe your wallet is thin and squeaks when it opens. Maybe you can’t physically help, you’re too far away or in bad health. Maybe you have a myriad of other excuses as to why you can’t be the hands and feet. But you can pray. You can educate yourself on international issues and you can create awareness. Does it have to be for Africa? No, that’s just where my heart lies. Look around you, do you see suffering? If not, look closer. There are people here that are hurting. How can you help them?
Not too long ago, a friend contacted me after an especially bad weekend. I couldn’t physically do anything for her. The damage had already been done. But, I was there for her. I prayed for her. I listened. I brought ice cream. Nothing huge, just gestures to show I cared.
And that is what I am asking of you, dear friends. Show someone you care. Find someone in your little corner of the world that needs help and help them. No, it may not be as fantastic as helping the starving kids in Africa or rescuing those being traded as slaves all round the world, but it means something to someone.
So, I’m challenging you. Go and be sunshine for someone who’s going through a storm. Go and be a smile on a crowded street. Go and be observant, you never know who is hurting. Go and learn. Climb out of your comfortable American existence and learn. You don’t know what continent the country the newscaster is talking about is in? Look it up. You’re confused by your neighbor’s culture and religion? Talk to them with an open mind. You don’t know where our military is? Ask the parent of a soldier or turn on the news. Does your heart feel cold and selfish, as if you’ve lost your compassion? Then help someone. It’s the best way to bring life and a little bit of sunshine back in.
Here are some links to get your started:
Baptist Global Response (you think our drought was bad? Well you should check out this and learn about the 11 MILLION people it affected)
Raise the Village (via Two Generations From the Farm)