Charity by Faith
by Trish Overby
Remember December 26, 2004! The Tsunami struck Asia (Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and Somalia) that day with deaths of hundreds of thousands and the destruction of homes and businesses. Appeals for money, food, clothing, and help were immediately on the television, radio and in newspapers and magazines. Because we could see the faces of ones who lost everything and hear or read about what they lost, we gave generously. Perhaps the most given for any non combative disaster.
Now it is almost a year on and we don't see it so much on the TV or in newspapers. We might hear of or see the major clear up operation still going on in Sri Lanka or Ace Banda. We might hear about the houses still being built to get families out of tents. It's taken a long time not because of lack of financial resources or even building materials. But it is taking time because of the massive devastation across 13 countries and the logistics of it. The UN said it will take up to 5 years to get things back to normal and cost $9billion. (BBC news report, 25 June 2005)
Of course, we here in the West wonder, "Why is it taking so long?" We gave what we could so why can't they just `fix it' quickly and get on with their daily lives? After all, this is the 21st century; surely we shouldn't have people suffering for so long, should we? Certainly the large sums of money and basic necessities should solve the problem. We don't think how long it takes for governments and aid agencies (charities) to `sift' this help through to the orphan in a temporary refugee camp or the extended family who lost not only their home but their livelihood.
What I was struck with after the Tsunami was the number of individual people who volunteered to help. Some even gave of their time and helped on the scene. An English lady, who was on vacation there in Sri Lanka or Thailand, I can't remember which. She called and emailed home and asked for her friends and family to send clothing. Within a couple of weeks she had organized a plane to bring the donated clothing to help the village where she was staying after her hotel was destroyed.
Another English man (I believe he is Muslim) went over to Indonesia and founded several orphanages to help the little ones come to terms with their grief and provide a loving, structured environment to protect them. This was done again with funds from him and his friends until they could set up a charity here in the UK which has fund raising projects to keep these orphanages going. I believe I even heard he was expanding to Kashmir and Pakistan to set up similar orphanages.
So we can see here that `giving' comes in many ways. We have the opportunity to give our time and money as we feel is right. We can give as we see the appeal on the television or we can find out more about a charity that gives just to orphans or widows. This is our opportunity to make a difference to those people's lives in the best way we can. It really isn't so we feel good about ourselves (although that does develop in our minds). This opportunity is so that their lives are made better (maybe better than they were before in some cases).
Being a philanthropist doesn't mean one needs a lot of money or free time. It means giving out of what you have to help others. It's giving out of our hearts to help people who are less fortunate (even if temporarily) than we are. In a way it is obeying the second "greatest commandment" our Lord gave us, "Love your neighbour as yourself." After all, what sort of help or aid would you like if you were in their shoes?
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