Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The front of the auditorium was crowed, lines of people backed down every aisle. They waited in anxious anticipation to write their names with colored chalk on a black wall. Some held hands, some had quivering hands… because this act was a life-altering commitment. They waited to write their names as a vow to God that they would leave this country to give their life away for the cause of Christ.

I was floored. I had no idea we would see this kind of response to my challenge: Give your life away to change this world and God will change you.

On one Sunday 240 people at The Grove signed their names to say, I will go and give my life away.


My challenge that day was simple, Respond.  Respond to the desperate.

Jesus illustrated this by telling of a man who was beaten down, robed, and left in a ditch to die. His challenge to Christ-followers was to stop -- stop and love as he loved.

Today a man lies on the side of the road, his name is Africa. He is a continent beaten down by poverty, disease, and injustice.  And if Christ-followers have any ambition of honoring God with our lives, then we must respond. This is true religion.

In my opinion, this generation must respond to three great plights in Africa: (1) Extreme Poverty, (2) Disease (particularly malaria and HIV), (3) Injustice (specifically the injust treatment of women.)

And responding to the pain and problems in Africa begins one person at a time.

Eliminating Extreme Poverty Begins with One Person

The world bank defines extreme poverty as those who live on less than one dollar a day. For the extreme poor every day is a fight for survival.  1.1 billion people live this way, about a fifth of the world’s population.

But here’s the hope, extreme poverty can be ended. Global economic experts like Jeffery Saches says by the year 2025 we can end extreme poverty. Saches, a Harvard Economist and who some have named “The Smartest Man in the Word,” has used his “shock economics” to turn fledging economies around.  He is firmly convinced that if affluent nations and people pool their resources, (and it only takes one percent of our wealth) we can end the plight of the poorest of the poor.3  (Saches 2006)

And we don’t have to give or do enough to make poor countries or poor people rich, we simply have to do enough to help them get their foot on the first rung of the economic ladder. When countries get their foot on the ladder of development they generally are able to climb upwards. But if a country / person is trapped below the ladder, with the first rung too high off the ground, they cant even get started.

And here’s where it begins -- with you and me. It starts with one person putting shoes on one man’s feet.  It starts with one church digging one well in one village.

Eradicating Malaria Begins with One Person

Every thirty seconds a child looses their life to malaria in Africa.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Up until the 1950’s malaria was a problem in Florida, and we eradicated it. Because of US interest in Panama, we eradicated it there. And if we concentrate our efforts and resources we can accomplish the same in Africa. Malaria is preventable and malaria is utterly treatable. You and I can be a part of turning the tide in Africa.

Eradicating malaria starts like this: one person going to one village and hanging one bed net in one dwelling at a time.

Ending Injustice Starts with One Person

An overwhelming mountain of scripture commands God's people to care for the oppressed. Justice is in the heart of God.

Just weeks ago a mob of men stoned a young woman to death in Kismayo, Somalia for the crime of adultery.  The stoning was the true crime.  In my opinion, this was the greatest act of injustice I’ve witnessed in my lifetime – yet the world was silent.  CNN was silent. America was silent. It’s not supposed to be this way.

Can I just say this, We can’t be silent anymore. Ending injustice begins with one person speaking up for those who have no voice; one person defending the weak. 


Some moments last a lifetime. For 240 people who wrote their names on a black wall with colored chalk, that one moment, that one act, that one Sunday will forever change the way they live. 

Changing this world for good starts on one day – that day is today.

Changing this world for good starts one person – that one person is you. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Why is it that on some days my heart feels like it’s a hundred miles from heaven? 

The Bible has a lot to say about the heart, and uses it as a metaphor of the seat of our soul and our spiritual being.  The poet-king David often spoke of his heart for God, “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart.” (Psalm 9:1)  And God said of David, “He is a man after my own heart.”  My great hope is that one day God will say this of me, but on some days my heart feels like it’s a hundred miles from heaven.

If there is a way to a stronger heart for God, what is it?  How do I have it?

The way to a strong physical heart is not to rest it.  Sitting on the couch watching too many episodes of Dancing with the Stars will only atrophy your heart.  Your heart is a giant muscle, the only way to a ferociously strong heart is to work it out, exhaust it, make it beat hard, climb a mountain.  Do something so difficult your heart feels like it’s going to beat right out of your chest.

I think it works the same spiritually.  When you get up and get out and live your life for Christ your spiritual heart beats stronger.  I know this has been true in my life.  The most difficult moments are the moments that have shaped my heart for God.  They are heart aching, heart breaking moments I wish I could take back, but they are the moments that have grown my heart and brought me closer to heaven.

This past week I’ve thought much about what has shaped my heart, a few moments stand out:

-Sitting with a man named Moses when his baby twin daughters died of Malaria – shaped my heart.

-Watching young men play basketball in one shoe, because they only had one shoe – shaped my heart.

-Giving baths to children who’s home is a city dump – shaped my heart.

-Having to tell a beautiful young woman she is HIV positive – shaped my heart.

-Seeing women chained together at the ankles on Arizona Avenue – shaped my heart.

-Watching my closest friend in Malawi die of AIDS – shaped my heart.

-Having people who have less than me share their food and possessions with me – has shaped my heart. 

So when your heart begins to feel like it’s a hundred miles from heaven, give your life away; mentor, serve, give, share, hold, encourage, love… and let God grow your heart.