Tuesday, November 25, 2008

start small

Can we make a difference?

I have been reminded over and over of the story of a boy on the beach who came across hundreds of starfish washed ashore. A man surveyed the beach and saw the boy picking them up one by one throwing them back into the ocean. He asked “Why do you bother, it isn’t going to make a difference?” the boy responded as he threw a starfish back into the water “It makes a difference for this one.”

When I see the poverty, abuse and abundance of HIV here in Africa they all appear to be huge obstacles that are impossible to overcome. But, we can’t just sit around and do nothing…
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve met people who realize that you start by changing the lives of few who intern will make a difference in a few more.

We traveled to Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa with LUO (www.luo-tosetfree.com) to serve at a community center called Ithemba. You must visit the LUO website to see and hear Lindsey’s amazing story of how she heard the Lord telling her to act and she listened by starting an organization to set children free from poverty. LUO’s first partnership is with Ithemba, which is run by an amazing woman named Ria. She started Ithemba 5 years ago to get the children of the township off the streets after school. In the mornings, there are about 30 preschool children who come to play, learn and get some much-needed rest. (I must say until Ithemba I had never seen 30 three year olds lay down and take and nap with out a single fight.) Then in the afternoon there can be anywhere from 30 to 200 children come to hear a bible lesson and learn what their poor public education misses. Ria genuinely treats these children as her own. When there is a child in need she will do what she can to help without making them into a charity case. One morning there was a little girl who fell and hit her head then got sick. We were concerned she may have a concussion, so we phoned Ria. When she arrived she immediately took the little girl and her twin to the doctor. It turned out the little girl was fine, but her twin may have a heart condition. God works in mysterious ways to reveal things to us daily. Ria didn’t have to take either of them to the doctor, but she had the means to take help and she did. She can’t take all 200 children, but she could make a difference in these 2 little girls’ lives by taking them to the doctor. One could look at it as not being fair to all the other children, but is it better to not do anything at all or help the 1 or 2 you are able?