The Two Questions Every North American Christian Must Ask Themselves

A friend of mine told me about a group of women, mothers with children, who were living in absolute poverty.

Their babies didn’t have diapers. Their kids didn’t have shoes. Their homes didn’t have furniture. Their pantry didn’t have food.

I’ve met women just like them, stood on their dirt floors and been offered the last plate of food in their house.

But these mothers in this story didn’t live across the ocean, on the other side of the globe.

They live 49 miles from my front door.

They are refugees–removed from Bhutan, their country of birth because of genocide against their race and placed in a refugee camp in Nepal, where they survived for 15 years, until more recently, when the United Nations relocated thousands of people again, to their new home in America.

They are my neighbors.

But many of these refugees have never been more than a mile away from the apartment complex that is now home. Once aid from the US ended after 90 days, they found themselves in a foreign country, unable to communicate, trying to navigate a much different culture, living a minimum-wage existence where diapers and toilet paper, shampoo and soap are a luxury they cannot afford. They didn’t know there was a food bank within walking distance. But how would they manage toddlers and babies without a stroller or cart for food and who would help them fill out the paperwork to take what was needed?

As I listened to the story, I felt moved with compassion. Because this is my heart, my calling: To empower mothers with opportunity– for some it’s an opportunity to give, for others it’s opportunity to receive. I don’t have all the answers, but I know we can help each other.

I couldn’t help but wonder How could I help? I immediately told myself I’m doing enough. What could I possibly do? How much more could I add to my already full plate? We give a lot, how much more can we give?

But then I realized I was asking the wrong questions.

2 Questions Every Christian in America Needs to Ask Themselves

Go ahead. Ask yourself. It’s not an accident. It’s not luck of draw. There is a purpose. You have a purpose for living here and not there. What do you think it is?

I don’t think it’s a mathematical mistake that one-third of the world is rich enough to ease the burden of the other two-thirds who are desperately poor living on less than $1 a day. It’s not a curious coincidence that we are already sitting on the answer.

It’s something we teach our children from the cradle. It’s called sharing. We have more than enough, enough to share.  It sounds like a match made in Heaven, huh? Like maybe it was God’s plan all along to love others and instead of accumulating the American Dream, there’s the chance to give some of it away.

And I believe when God asks us what we did with our talents, our resources, our land of the free-home of the brave opportunity, we will be accountable for our answer.

Yes, we give already. But we have been given so much. We can give more, share more, do more. Not to prove we are good people or need a bigger list of good works. We do it because it’s our purpose to glorify God. We do it because He first loved us and we love others. We do it because we have it to give. We do it because if we were reusing disposable diapers, we would want someone to share with us.

We do it because our houses and cars and pins on Pinterest are temporary.

Our stuff will not last, but people will.

photo

When I asked myself these hard questions, I knew immediately what my answer had to be.

I started sharing this story with my friends and church community, many had the same answer. And with a pile of yeses, answers starting coming in.  Moms started pulling out clothes and shoes, their excess to share. Dads moved furniture into garages to give away. Women began stockpiling diapers. Volunteers are offering ESL classes, a website is being built and a group of moms have started teaching knitting.

Once a week for as long as I’m able, I’ll be spending the day 49 miles from home, with my neighbors. 

Is there a right answer to those hard questions? I don’t know.

But my family is starting by looking at what we have, thanking God for it, and then sharing it with someone else.

I hope you will too.

Neighbors are a great place to start.


Comments

  1. 2

    says

    Oh my. Haven’t I read somewhere that you live in the Houston area? If so, that means these ladies are not far from my doorstep either. What can I do?

    • 3.1

      Kristen says

      We are doing ESL (English as a second language) classes several times a week and “Art Business” classes which are teaching knitting currently, with plans to help them sell what they make. We also do Discovery Bible Study, where they are listening to the Bible on tape in their language since that’s a big barrier. We hope to teach hygiene and health classes too.

  2. 5

    says

    My mother-in-law and some friends from church work with Butanese refugees every Tues. They’re teaching them english & helping prepare them to gain employment and bringing meals. They are a very proud people, and they do not like accepting handouts. It must be very difficult for them. Through fellowship and sharing the love of Christ, there is now a relationship building that makes it easier to accept donations as generosity vs charity. Many good friendships have been made.

  3. 7

    Katrina says

    Have you read “The Invisible Girls” by Sarah Thebarge? Excellent book relating to this very thing. Challenging and eye opening.

  4. 8

    says

    Great post about a wonderful opportunity! I posed a twist to K.P. Yohannan’s first question to one of the African refugees who comes regularly to our door here in Italy selling things: “I often wonder why God allowed me to be born and live in wealthy nations with such abundance.” His answer surprised me. “That is not for us to question,” he answered. “But I know that maybe God wanted me to have to call on him to a greater degree.” He also shared that many poor people are self-centered, selfish, and stingy. He is right; God chooses where to place us. And whether we have little or much, he expects us to hold it by the tips of our fingers, and not clutch it greedily. However, the more we have been given, the more we will have to answer for! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 9

    celina boulanger says

    no excuses left are there….. Africa is far away….but out own city…I know one of the catholic churches here has a group of refugees they provide help to….I’m sure they are not the only ones…This post might have been written for me…THanks

    and you are right..IT IS TERRIFYING ISN’T IT….what if I’m not good enough for the task he puts ahead of me

  6. 12

    Lisa Botts says

    Any idea how I can find out if there are refugees from anywhere located in my state? Would love to get our youth group involved with something like this.

  7. 14

    says

    <3 The two overriding themes my husband and I have been shown by God lately are: "Blessed to be a blessing" and "To whom much is given, much is required."

    The reality is EVERYTHING we have is because God has blessed us with it. I don't know why He's chosen to bless us the way He has sometimes, but we have the responsibility to share that blessing and not hoard it. Sure, we COULD have __________ (fill in your own blank), but if we're not serving others, not sharing our blessings with others, then what's the point? Why sacrifice our temporal gains for someone else's eternity.

    Like Paul wrote in Philippians 4 . . . I know what it is like to be in plenty and in want. I know what it's like to not know where my next meal is coming from. I also know what it's like to stare at a computer screen absolutely awed and humbled by a financial blessing. Paul said the secret to being content in all circumstances is Jesus.

    I don't have the answer to the "why" of question #1, but God is showing me that, while I may not know why, I know what I'm supposed to do about it.

    Now, to get my flesh out of the way when a sale comes up at my favorite stores ;)

  8. 16

    Brittany says

    What a great way to minister to and serve your neighbors! Sometimes we forget that there are many missions that can happen in our own neighborhood. We don’t need to go to another country to serve those in need. Sometimes we need to start at home.

  9. 17

    Kaley says

    I am in public health and have worked in South America developing health education on hygiene and general illnesses for the poor. I would love to help get info together if needed!

  10. 19

    says

    Thank you so much for this, Kristen. We’ve been living and working with refugees here in Columbus, Ohio for just a couple months, and I can’t even tell you how blessed WE’VE been when we’re supposed to be doing the blessing. God’s heart is for the foreigner/refugee/alien. It’s an honor to join him in his work here. So excited about what he’s doing in Houston! xoxoxo

  11. 20

    says

    I was reading the comments and I wasn’t sure if the link that is on facebook was a link to help out by donating. for your readers that don’t live in the Texas area is there a way we can help by donating to your cause so you can get these precious women the supplies they need? Thank you for helping God’s people. You are an inspiration. May God use you and many like you in a big way.

  12. 21

    Stacy says

    Thank you for sharing about huge needs right in our backyard. Many churches don’t even know about this immediate opportunity to share the love of God with people from all parts of the world. You don’t have to go to a foreign country to experience “international missions”.

    To see if there are refugee groups in your area, contact the resettlement agencies. There are many (google “refugee resettlement agencies”). We have served with World Relief http://www.worldrelief.org which has offices all over the US.

  13. 22

    Miriam Fisk says

    Thank you for sharing!! I recently moved (back) to Houston… I’m probably less than 10 miles away from these refugees. I’d love to help if I can. (I just requested to join the FB group.)

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