Headlines (and social media stories) can be so hard to read that it seems easier to look away from the reality they present. Teen suicides. Drug abuse. Homeless families living in storage sheds. Babies with terminal illness. Kids being abused or neglected. If you pick up the rock and look at the horribly creepy crawly things under it, it is normal just to want to slam the rock back down and walk away.
I know as much as anyone that the amount of need faced in our communities can be overwhelming. In our own part of town, a fairly well-to-do area compared to the national average, our compassion staff personally knows homeless families, hungry kids, teens aging out of foster care with nowhere to go and no one to show them the way, under-resourced people falling through the cracks of society, and people who have lost hope.
It can be overwhelming to know where to start.
There are some resources from our church and some others in the area. Some services are provided by government and non-profit organizations. But the need cannot be met without ordinary people getting involved.
Average families, who have to deal with their own mortgages, jobs, children, carpools, sports lessons, friendships and dreams, are the ones deciding they also have the capacity to carry just a bit of the burden of someone else who has too much to bear. They inspire me! As we continue here together, I hope you will get to meet some of them...at least virtually.
To make a difference, you don't have to change everything. Just do what you can. As told by Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, here is
The Story of the Hummingbird:
One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest - a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, "Don't bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can't put out this fire."
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, "What do you think you are doing?" And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, "I am doing what I can."
If you decide you would like to be a hummingbird and carry your drop of water to a burning fire, there are many places you can start. Let me briefly introduce two national organizations that we have begun to partner with which bring long-lasting transformations.
The first one is called Safe Families for Children. Here is how they explain a bit about their service: "When crisis strikes, many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn't a safety net. Often problems such as drug addiction, domestic abuse, incarceration, or illness can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children...Since 2005, Safe Families for Children has offered sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become Safe Families for their own children." You can help out with Safe Families by being a host family temporarily to children or by serving as a Family Friend who supports hosts. If you have any interest at all, go check out their website!
The Open Table is the name of the other wonderful organization. Their vision is "A movement of servants restoring people in poverty to our communities through relationship and the investment of our own vocational and life experiences and personal networks." Basically, it's this: if you know how to function in life and society because you had anyone care for you along your journey and show you the way, now you can be a member of a Table and pay it forward through sharing of your advice, your network and, most importantly, your friendship. Their tagline is: The Triumph of Relationship Over Poverty. I love that!