Is there a problem in this world that needs your help? Is it bigger than you can conquer?
I remember when I heard about the great devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast. It made me want to do something. What I wanted to do was pick up and go down for a long time to help people rebuild and recover, but I was only one thirty-year-old woman who didn’t really know anything about disaster relief…at all. So what could I do? Where could I start? I really did not know, so I did nothing.
I sat and did do nothing…until Pastor Ian from my church asked the congregation for volunteers to help out with answering phones to help the Red Cross raise funds for disaster relief for the victims of the hurricane. That was something I could do. It was better than doing nothing, so I signed up for answering calls early in the morning along with Ian and another friend, Shannon, from our fellowship group. We went to the radio station and jotted down payment information for the phone call donations that came in. After our time was over, Pastor Ian, Shannon and I went to McDonalds for a coffee and breakfast, and a talk that would maybe change the course of all of our lives a bit.
We sat and discussed how satisfying it was to help. But I still couldn’t shake the idea that I didn’t do much that day, I wanted to do more. But how? I expressed this nagging thought to my friends, and they thought about that, too.
A month or two passed. Surely it was beyond the time I could be helpful there. Then one day, Pastor Ian announced that they made a connection with churches working down in Mississippi. These churches had been bringing the needed food in to hurricane survivors and were going to be moving on the colossal task of gutting houses and rebuilding. Our church was going to send a team down. I made a deal with God. I would go down if He would work out my schedule to go. In another month or two, I gave my notice at work for a different purpose—to move to another state out West. Before I left, however, I would take a week to fulfill my vow to God to go to Mississippi. A group from our church would soon be going again to help for a week, and I signed up to go. My friend Shannon from our church group had already quit his job to go down indefinitely.
When I went down, we all worked very hard. The devastation was great even several months after the disaster, and the need of people tugged on my heart. I had planned on moving to South Dakota in another couple of weeks for ministry there, but I ended up taking a longer detour to help with the immediate needs on the Gulf Coast. The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind…how could I pass by the desperate need here to go on to another “call of God”?
I spent half a year serving with awesome people, hundreds coming in every week from all over the United States to help, some there for a little longer than others, and all bringing a lot of hope to a largely devastated group of hurricane survivors. We gutted, repaired, painted, dry walled and roofed houses and reminded people of the goodness of God.
Is there a need in this world that is knocking on the door of your heart? Don’t be afraid of its size. Dream big and don’t despise small starts. Just do something toward meeting that need. Answering phones was not how I had envisioned helping, but it planted a seed. That was the beginning toward doing what was on my heart to do, though the problem of how to get there seemed insurmountable.
A little step can lead to another, and another, until you are actually making an impact on the world around you in the way that you had dreamed. And others will follow. The breakthrough you bring will bring others around you who can go beyond that door you’ve pushed through. Pastor Ian’s connection to the disaster relief in Mississippi brought Shannon through that door– he stayed there helping in disaster relief efforts for a long time. Eventually Ian’s efforts brought me through as well, not to mention many, many other members of the church who were able to tangibly help bring healing to a hurting place.
In the book of Zechariah, chapter 4 (of the Bible), the prophet Zechariah has a God-given vision of what was happening in the spiritual realms in Jerusalem. In reality their city was in devastation– they had returned from captivity to rebuild what had been great once and now stood in ruins. Their leader, Zerubbabel, had laid the foundation of the temple in Jerusalem, but people were feeling overwhelmed with the task ahead. Could it even be done? Would what they could do even make a difference in Jerusalem and to the temple? Then an angel asked Zechariah “Who despises the day of small things?” Were they despising the little bit they had begun? Possibly—it is easy to do! God encouraged them; the temple would be rebuilt–even in Zerubabbel’s life time.
How would that happen? “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” And that is for us, too. How will we ever accomplish bringing change for good to this world when so much is against us? Not by might, nor by power. Just by the Mighty Spirit of our Great God. That’s all. Don’t despise the day of small things.