Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 29: Serious questions

I've had to ask myself the difficult question, why should I stop after day 30? Ok, aside from the fact that I'm losing weight at an unhealthy pace, why shouldn't we all be living more simply if others are hungry? I mean, really, that's a tough question, as my stats tell me that ~95% of my readers are in the developed world, and we live in lands of abundance. I could do a separate challenge living on $0 for 30 days, and demonstrate to you how I could live off of samples, freebies, and my kids' leftovers. Seriously. It could be done.

I don't know. I mean, honestly, there is a part of me that wants to extend the challenge, especially if I don't reach my goal. We are getting closer, and miracles are possible, but it will certainly take a miracle to fill the next 17 hearts in one day. This very difficult question is bouncing around in my head tonight: if my voluntary poverty is bringing awareness to the plight of those who go hungry, AND actually putting food on their plates, how can I stop? How would you answer this question, if you were in my shoes?

And, in general, I'm plagued by a question: how do we all deal with this, on a daily basis? Knowing that there are children out there— orphans, child labor victims, and recovering slaves who are struggling, while we go on with our lives almost as if they're not there. Yet, we know, that they're our neighbors on this tiny planet. So, I just don't know what to do.

And to my Christian brothers and sisters, and to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Hare Krishna, Buddhists and other people of faith, I ask: why do we put more money into our churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and ashrams than we do into helping these who have no hope and go hungry? At what point did one of the basic tenets of so many of the world's faiths turn from alms for the poor into alms for our places of worship? Serious question.

Again, for my Christian brothers and sisters, we know that there is a basis in our scriptures for taking a weekly offering in the church gathering. It is found in Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth, chapter 16, verses 1-4, and in other references in Paul's letters to the churches. If you read the passages, you will learn that Paul was not instructing the church to take a weekly collection to benefit church building projects, but for their fellow brothers and sisters back in Jerusalem, where their was a famine and they were suffering from hunger. Thus, the main beneficiaries of a weekly offering as directed in the Christian scriptures are to be, you guessed it, the poor—not a cathedral or fancy church building project—but for the hungry.

So as I wrap up my challenge here and grapple with these difficult questions, I would implore you to do the same, and also ask your pastor, priest, imam, rabi, guru, or other leader in your faith, what are we doing to help the poor?

Ok, one other thing and I'll get off my preachy soap box, but this is kind of huge for my Christian brothers and sisters unaware here: Remember when the apostles gave their blessing to Paul and Barnabas? I'm talking about the apostles, those guys who walked with Jesus for three years.

In Paul's letter to the church at Galatia, second chapter, verses 1-10, he recounts this scene. As the apostles James, Peter, and John give Paul the "right hand of fellowship," blessing his calling, they give him one request. What, of all the things, could these three pillars of our faith be asking Paul to not forget?  

Maybe... "Oh, Paul, we bless you, but please just remember to teach new followers of Jesus to build big shiny churches," or "Paul, you're cool, we bless you in your work, but just make sure of this one thing: keep the believers inside of buildings so they can meet in security and comfort and encourage each another." No. Are you ready for this? The one thing they asked of Paul is that that he remember the poor. And what was Paul's response? "Oh, hmmm, I never thought of that, thanks for the instruction, I will be sure to remember that, apostles of our Lord." No. Paul, automatically replied to them, "This is the one thing I was eager to do!"

Ok, rant over. Just had to get that out there for the record, and for awareness. The original intention of the Christian faith, was that the primary pooling of financial resources should go to assist the poor and hungry.

I'm super happy to report that today we have filled two more hearts toward my goal of 50 "monthly hearts" on the "heart-chart" today! And we only lack $14/mo to fill the $57/mo heart! This puts our heart-chart looking really full tonight! We are making progress!

And tonight I dedicate the next to last day of my challenge to the people of one of my favorite places on the planet, a small Ugandan village near the Kenyan border and the shores of Lake Victoria called Mairinya. They have next to nothing, and have recently been struggling with a food crisis due to severe drought, yet they are resourceful and know how to smile even in the midst of adversity. Peace Gospel operates a humble primary school in this village that serves as the only source of education for the children of the village. Thanks to the effects of the "heart-chart" we are able to serve the 250 children of the school two fresh-cooked meals every school day. These are my photos of the people I've been blessed to meet in this village.

And some scenes from the school...

Charitable goal explanation. For those of you just tuning in, I'll recap what I'm trying to achieve with the "Monthly Donor Heart-Chart" and my goal of finding 50 new sponsors for these "hearts" which I like to think of as representing lives being transformed and, ultimately, saved.

Why am I seeking monthly donors? The orphan care, child labor response, and human trafficking response programs we've pioneered at Peace Gospel and She Has Hope— while sustained in part by small business enterprise— need charitable support to be fully sustained. The budgets of these programs have fixed, monthly expenses. Thus, while one-time donations are deeply appreciated, it's the monthly donations that give us something to count on and plan with. Therefore, long-term, they're the most powerful.

If you're willing to make a small monthly sacrifice of any amount to help ensure that the following merciful actions are fully funded each month, I would be grateful for your partnership with me in this effort. With your help, our monthly budget enables us to…
  • Provide resident care for 290 orphans in 11 homes in Asia and Africa
  • Operate 4 schools and 4 after-school care programs reaching over 1000 children
  • Serve approx. 50,000 fresh meals to children in our programs
  • Train 100s of girls how to avoid the dangers of human trafficking
  • House, rehabilitate and empower 20 girls recovering from human trafficking

On to what I was able to create with just $1 worth of food today.

Click or tap on image to enlarge...




Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Learn more and sign up here!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.

3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!

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