Done Changing the World

So back in September I was at a conference in New York when one of the speakers made the comment that if churches were absolutely successful with the things they are doing, it wouldn’t have much of an impact in the world anyway. That made me almost stop dead on my tracts. I am a church guy, I am busy, I run some great programs and I have great plans for the future. But are all or any of these things really making a difference?

He just might be and if he is it is indeed a disturbing thought…

This year I led a couple of teams to Asia, where people from our church have helped rescued many children from poverty, abandonment, even sexual abuse and slavery. But until one or more of these children rises up to change the culture or lead a movement, we won’t know the impact we’ve had. Of course I am not computing the spiritual impact in the lives of these children, but should we desire more? This thought keeps me awake at night: for every child we rescue, there are thousands more who are being left behind.

I was at a village in northern Thailand last year when a local pastor brought a folder filled with names and bios of children he personally knew who, unless they were rescued, they could end up at a brothel somewhere in Chiang Mai or Bangkok. The task is daunting and we are only scratching the surface.

I lead an effort every month to go into our community and meet people’s needs in tangible ways. We try to cheer up older folks in a nursing home, do small home repairs, rake leaves, or sometimes just randomly go to a gas station and distribute free gas cards. But even though it is always a fun thing to do, the effort to get people there every month is Don Quixote-esque.  How can I know if I we are really having a lasting impact? Maybe if we stopped the program and people still kept doing it on their own because they understand that they cannot call them themselves “Christians” and neglect helping those less fortunate??

I meet with a couple of guys every week for the purpose of encouragement and personal accountability. We want to be the best fathers and spouses we can possibly be, but I frankly don’t know if what we do on Monday mornings is actually helping us to achieve these lofty goals, though I hope it is…

I counseled one couple this year for several months and they are now seeking divorce. No, I didn’t encourage them to do that, but in the end, after one or the other kept walking out of our counseling sessions, they decided to go their separate  ways. I guess that may not bode well for the couples I am currently meeting with… This year I became more convinced than ever that you cannot change people. People will do what they want to, unless their mind is completely transformed. And there is no lasting transformation unless it originates with a personal encounter with the living God.

So I am done trying to change the world. I just want to find the next hurting and lonely person and see if I can help them to find hope once again. I too was once lost and now am found.

Ivanildo C. Trindade