Chris Marlow | June 06, 2014
In 2007, I met a starving orphan at an abandoned gas station in Harare, Zimbabwe. For the first time, extreme poverty was far more than facts. It became personal.
In the last decade, we have seen the church rise up and lean into what it means to love and serve the poor. From slavery and orphans, to clean water, foster care, homelessness, job creation and more -- God's people are on the move and they are trying to solve some of the worlds greatest problems.
Yet, it is so easy to get sidetracked, confused or carry the burden of the entire world’s problems on your shoulders (something I obviously don’t recommend). After over 20 trips to Haiti in the two years following the earthquake in 2010, I realized I had to create some framework for doing good so I would not get weary. Instead, I could run and finish the race, serve the poor, and glorify Jesus in the process.
Here are my five steps for doing good:
1) Pray Deeply
Transformation starts from within. When the burden for the materially poor grips your heart, the best action step you can do is to pray. Pray for light to shine and darkness to be destroyed. Pray that God would give you wisdom and use your gifts to make a difference and pray that God will comfort those who are suffering. We simply cannot forget that the battle is not flesh and blood.
2) Seek Wisdom
As I travel the globe, my heart breaks often. I see so many people who love God and love people do work that actually may damage the people they are trying to love. Why? Because we have not sought wisdom. We do not understand the depth of culture or the complexity of living in a developing country. Sometimes our passion to "go" is what ruins our ability to see communities transformed. Passion can often get in the way of wisdom! Seek wisdom from key leaders on how to love and serve well.
3) Dig Deep
A shotgun approach to extreme poverty is a sure fire way to not get much done. Ask yourself: what area am I passionate about? Is it orphans, water, anti-trafficking, or job creation? Who is doing that kind of work and how can I help them? There are a few ways to engage with groups that you care about:
Give: Money moves the mission forward. Be generous!
Human Capital: You have gifts, passions and talents. How can you leverage those to make an impact? Do it.
Longevity: Find a few organizations you love and stick with them long term.
4) Activate Your Tribe
Become a storyteller to your family, friends, co-workers and network. Ask them to be involved. Folks have a desire to make a difference. We asked our tribe to tell the simple story of Garage Sale for Orphans. (https://www.helponenow.org/catalyst/) We've raised $300,000 in the last two years and we hope to raise another 1 million in the next two.
We need 1000 people to say "yes" to throwing a garage sale party. 40 kids have been rescued from trafficking, orphans have clean water, and homeless Haitians now have homes and jobs--all through this initiative. Can you join us as well, and become a part of the 1000? You see how simple that was? We would have never been able to make that kind of impact, had our tribe not told our story — it makes a huge difference!
5) Run The Race And Do Not Quit
It is not a sprint. True change takes a long time. I have seen so many passionate "do gooders" burn out quickly as they get frustrated with the reality that changing the world is a slow and steady approach. Pace yourself, keep your main focus on your relationship with God, surround yourself with people of wisdom, find an organization or two and dig deep, activate your tribe and prepare for a marathon, and, little by little, you will see the beauty of transformation.