I write often enough about how busy, busy, overly busy I am ... and it's true. I'm bent on simplifying not only my household but also my schedule this year. It's not good to have so many irons in the fire. Years ago, my very dear friend, Ann, who was a surrogate grandmother to me, used to call and ask, "Are you still homeschooling, dear? Still writing? Still teaching women's ministry?" After hearing my "yes" to each of those questions, she'd say, "Well, then, Shannon, we're going to have to pray some of those things out."
Ann is with the Lord now. I can only imagine what she'd say if she knew that I'd added editing and a whole bunch of traveling and speaking to the list. In her absence, I'll say it for her: "We really need to pray some of that out."
So yes, I'm busy. But I still find time to do a lot of thinking. And what I've been thinking for the past several weeks and months is that I'm tired of living in the land of plenty and not being more globally minded.
Many months ago, when my blogging friend, Jimmy Cochran
, was writing his first book
, he sent it to me to preview so I could write an endorsement. While I had it, I habitually began editing it. He didn't mind--in fact, he was kind enough to offer to pay me. I'm not in the habit of taking money from my friends, so I said no. But then I wrote back and said, "If you'd really like to do something, and you really don't mind, would you go to the Gospel For Asia
site and maybe buy a pair of chickens?" I'd only recently learned about the site. You can browse through a large assortment of items and purchase chickens or rabbits ($10 a pair), pigs ($50 a pair), goats ($55 each) lambs ($60 each), cows ($350 each) or a big ol' $430 water buffalo. You can also buy a bicycle or a fully loaded truck for a missionary, Bibles, tracts, sewing machines, fishing boats, or a community well. Whatever you buy on the site is then given to an impoverished family or a missionary.
Just one set of chickens or rabbits can completely change a family's future. As that one pair grows into several, a cottage industry is born--and the family's food supply is multiplied. So even though I felt a little funny making the suggestion to Jimmy, I knew that both he and a needy family would be blessed. When Jimmy wrote back, he told me that he loved the idea and had shared it his men's Bible study group. Everyone got on board. "I think we're going to buy a cow, a couple chickens, blankets, definitely Bibles, and whatever else our Sunday school group wants to add to that."
I cried. And I cried again on Christmas morning, when Dave, who had asked me what I wanted in the way of a gift, proved that he'd been listening. Within the tree, he'd tucked an envelope which contained a single sheet of paper listing all the things he'd purchased from the GFA site: one pair of chickens, one pair of pigs, 500 tracts, and 10 Bibles ... all on their way to India.
As if one bout of puffy eyes wasn't enough for one day, I cried later that afternoon when I caught Oprah and watched her trip to Africa to distribute gifts to 50,000 children. It was heartwarming to see their smiles upon receiving dolls, soccer balls, and jeans--but it was heartbreaking to see the devastation AIDS is causing within that culture. At the end of the show, I found myself praying, "Please send us to Africa."
Maybe He will. Or maybe He'll keep us here, where, for the price of two foregone lattes, we could send someone a pair of rabbits.
Our women's ministry is saving money to buy a community well for a village in India. The cost is $750, but we're inching our way there. I'm planning to ask for another Gospel For Asia purchase in lieu of Valentine chocolates. Mother's Day won't be far after that ... and then our anniversary, and my birthday.
And just today, I found a great site called Free Rice
. By simply playing a word game, you earn grains of rice that are then donated to a third world country. Advertisers on the site provide the rice.
We have been given such an enormous amount of wealth in this country. There's so much we can do, and so little in the way of excuses for not doing so--especially if, as Christians, we believe we are His hands, His feet, and His heart in this world.
So I'd like to ask a favor--would you consider taking one of these ideas to your church or small group?