Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being a Difference Maker

One of the biggest frustrations I have in life is trying to make a difference. There are so many things that are wrong in the world that I am tempted to throw up my hands and surrender at the impossibility of it all. I am just one person, after all, what can I do? There are so many needs, so many causes, so many hurts, so many opportunities that I get overwhelmed.

I am not the first to come to this place of confusion and futility. It is likely that you have had these same thoughts and concerns. You want to change the world, but it is hopeless. The problems are overwhelming. There are thousands (millions?) of people smarter than us, richer than us and with more influence than us who cannot solve these problems. Who do we think that we are?

Unfortunately, many people get to this point in the process and give up. There is no point in continuing when you cannot find and enact solutions. So we decide to do nothing. We sit on our hands and complain about how bad things are and that no one is doing anything about it. Shame on us.

In earlier posts I have encouraged doing "something." The idea is that no one can do everything, but everyone can do one thing. So I want to suggest that everyone do one thing. Find a place where you can make a difference, and then make it.
  • Become a mentor for a younger person.
  • Volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • Teach a Sunday School class.
  • Help out with story time at your local library.
  • Get to know some young people in your community.
  • Volunteer to be a part of your local community association.
  • Sponsor a child in a third world country.
  • Read to an elderly neighbor.
  • Visit your local nursing home.
  • Offer to help your local youth sports leagues.
  • Give time to a charity that you would like to support.
  • Offer to clean or do office work in a free medical clinic.

Here is how I am currently trying to make a difference:


Fred is pastor of the Mutungo United Methodist Church in Kampala, Uganda. His church meets on a rented lot with some poles on it. The wooden poles hold up part of a roof over their dirt-floor sanctuary. The few members of the church cannot afford the rent on this "shed." The $40 monthly is more than they can raise. The ladies of the church make beads that they sell to raise some of the necessary funds, but that is not enough.

I cannot do much, but I can make a difference for Fred and his church. I have brought some of the ladies' beads to the USA and I am selling them for Mutungo. In addition, my congregation has committed to support the rent for this church for two years. It is not a lot of money. In fact, we will likely not even miss it. But it will make a huge difference for Fred and his little church.


Joseph is young man who was born in Rwanda. During the genocide of the 1990's Joseph watched as soldiers cut off his father's arms and legs and then killed him. Later his mother died of HIV/AIDS leaving Joseph to care for his HIV positive twin sisters. Joseph is now going to college. He survives on money he earns from selling second hand blue jeans.

I cannot solve all of Joseph's problems, but I can help him. I regularly encourage him via email. Occasionally I am able to help him with his college and living expenses (one year of college in Rwanda costs about $1000).

You see, you can make a difference too. Just find a place and do it.

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