Serve

“On my door is a cartoon of two turtles.  One says, ‘Sometimes I would like to ask why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice when He could do something about it.’  The other turtle says, ‘I am afraid that God might ask me the same question.'”           ~Peter Kreeft

An important part of finding my path has been realizing how intertwined it is with the path of others.  Serving is one of my favorite ways to share love with others and feel connected to the bigger community.  It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to start…there is so much need for service in this world.  I take it one small step at a time.  Here are some of my favorite ways to serve and give.

The Great Commission – This is our most important mission of all, START WITH MAKING DISCIPLES.  All of the other things in this list mean nothing if we don’t share the love and truth of Jesus as we go.  You do not have to be a priest to do this.  If you have children, they are your greatest responsibility – guide them to heaven every single day.  Whether you have children or not, simply living a life of love will cause others to ask what makes you so joyful – tell them.  When a friend or stranger is struggling, don’t hesitate to pray with them.  Share your favorite Bible verse on Facebook.  Little steps will build confidence leading to bigger steps.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”      ~Matthew 28:18-20

Tithing – The Lord asks us to give the first of our fruits to His Kingdom.  Not what is left over after I get to have cable and Netflix and dinner out.  Making this shift, and really living it out, has meant a complete lifestyle change.  Before I determine what I can afford for myself, that money is taken out and given away.  I thought it would hurt.  It hasn’t.  Not one bit.  In fact, I feel more blessed than I ever have in my entire life.

“…Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it…”        ~Malachi 3:10

I give to my church, but I also reach out through various organizations.  And not just through money.  My time is even more precious, and giving time through volunteering is often even more rewarding than just sending a check.

Habitat for Humanity – I love this organization because it helps people help themselves.  And there is power in that.  These are people who are striving for a better life and are willing to put in the “sweat equity” to do it.  It’s a hand out and a hand up, fighting homelessness and helplessness. Plus, they taught me that even a wimpy little girl like me can swing a hammer.

charity:water – Everyone should have access to clean water.  This is a simple fact.  I think about it every time I turn on my faucet – how blessed we are to have this necessity as a luxury.  I honestly can’t understand how we in America have multiple cars and televisions per family, but people around the globe still don’t have access to clean water.  It’s just not right.  And charity:water uses 100% of your donation to fund the water projects.  Why does it matter so much?  Watch the video to learn more.

International Justice Mission – How is it possible that we have advanced this far in society, yet we still live in a world filled with slavery and violence?  IJM is working to solve that.  What I love about them is that they are fighting to fix the entire process, from beginning to end.  They start by rescuing victims, but they continue by bringing criminals to justice, restoring the survivors, and strengthening justice systems.  No band-aids here; this is full on healing.

Kiva – This is the gift that keeps on giving.  Donate as little as $25 to help fund a microloan to someone in need around the world.  They pay it back, then you can re-lend the same money to someone else.  Over and over and over.  It’s so easy, so helpful, and so fun.

Skip1.org – Shelene Bryan founded this organization after she made a spontaneous trip to Africa to meet the children she had been sponsoring.  When she learned what a huge difference she could make in their lives for the price of a manicure, she was hooked.  The concept is simple. Skip just one manicure, car wash, latte, movie, pack of gum, etc. Something small that you don’t really need or wouldn’t really miss. Then donate the money.  It’s that easy to change lives.  You don’t even have to leave your couch.

Unbound – This organization works side by side with those in poverty around the world.  You can sponsor a child through Unbound to help them stay in school and provide support for their health.  Writing to your sponsored child establishes a relationship which bridges the gap between cultures.  This has been a great experience to share with my children.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Children shouldn’t have to battle cancer.  And families shouldn’t have to stress about the financial burden of battling cancer while worrying about their children.  It’s just that simple.  There are so many ways to help, too.  You can donate, you can campaign, you can send cards to sick kids, you can buy merchandise that benefits the hospital – there is something for everyone to do.

Voice of the Martyrs – I was honestly shocked to find out that persecution still happens so violently today.  VOM helped me burst out of my bubble into reality and gives me a way to do something about it.  They take Bibles into distant and dangerous places where the Gospel is desperately needed.  They support new churches and train new leaders.  They risk their lives daily to spread His Word.  I listen to their podcasts, letting the stories push me into the uncomfortable question – am I capable of truly suffering for Jesus?

Random Acts of Kindness – This is the organization that helped me get over my excuses – the crutch I used to carry, saying “It’s too hard to change the whole world, so I’m not doing anything at all.”  NOT TRUE!  Kindness is as simple as a smile.  A sweet thank you note.  Noticing a stranger.  They will give you so many ideas, and make it so easy, your excuses will disappear.  This is stuff the kids can help out with, too.  #RAKtivist

Food Pantry –  This one hits me the same as the need for water – it just shouldn’t be an issue. There was a time in my life when we were blindly buying so much food each week that we had to throw most of it away.  The Hunger Games provided an extreme example of this in the portrayal of The Capitol that didn’t seem so extreme anymore.  That really opened my eyes.  I’ve since curbed my spending and wastefulness and redirected my funds to the food pantry.  My favorite part of volunteering here is meeting the people – hearing their stories, and giving them encouragement.

Mission Trips – There is always the question of whether to help locally or abroad.  The answer has to be both.  Doing what we can in our own communities is necessary.  Learning what is happening outside of our bubble is essential.  Forming bonds with communities around the world ties us together.  The argument is that we can’t change the world and that money can be spent more efficiently locally.  Every time I feel that excuse bubbling to the surface I challenge myself to put my money where my mouth is.  If I turn down a $2,000 mission trip overseas for that reason, I need to be ready to put that $2,000 to work here.

If you’re anxious about which charities to trust, try the website give.org.  They have done the research for you.

If music inspires you most, try Matthew West – Do Something.

For more ideas and inspiration, try my Pinterest board Helping Giving Serving.

I would love to hear about your favorite ways to serve!  Please share in the comments below.

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