Compassion In Action
Compassion In Action
It's not enough to have a soft heart towards the hurting. We must put our compassion into action. But how? This question has been on my mind for years. Here's where I'm at so far:
Some people are in such distress because of war, famine, natural disaster and the like, that they need emergency help. They cannot help themselves, so someone has to intervene in a massive way. Organizations such as Gleaning for the World, Samaritan's Purse, and our own EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response provide this kind of rapid response, emergency aid. You and I can contribute funds to these groups and they will send aid. There are times when emergency aid is exactly the right way to put our compassion into action.
Some people are in long-term difficulty leading to intractable poverty. Perhaps they are farmers and they have no access to capital to buy seeds or fertilizer or livestock or equipment. In these sorts of situations, emergency aid is not the solution. Nor is long-term aid. Both tend to leave the situation exactly as it was or worse. Over time, aid breeds dependence and actually prevents growth and development. Reading the excellent book, When Helping Hurts, helped me understand why I needed to look beyond this dysfunctional model.
There is a better way to help people out of long-term poverty. It's built on investment and empowerment. This excerpt from the HOPE International website describes how investment and empowerment work:
"We believe all men and women are created in the image of God, with unique abilities, creativity, and dreams. But around the world, many lack access to basic financial services that could help them invest their talents and save for the future. Trapped in feelings of hopelessness, many begin to believe they have nothing in their hands. HOPE comes alongside these men and women, providing discipleship, biblically based training, a safe place to save, and small loans that empower them to provide for their families and give back to their communities."
That is exactly what compassion in action should look like. Given opportunity, people will work themselves into a decent standard of living that is sustainable. Then, they will be able to send their kids to school, pay for medical care, build or buy good housing, find clean water, fund their small businesses, and so on.
I put some of my compassion into action by investing in Kiva. Kiva works through micro-lending to help men and women around the world fund their small businesses. I enjoy every time I scroll through Kiva's website looking for a business in which to invest. I've invested mostly in women, mostly in Africa, mostly in farming.
Compassion must lead to action. Take a look at Hope International or Kiva for some ideas.
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