Go and Do In Your Backyard

I started responded to Julie’s comment on yesterday’s post and it just kept getting bigger and bigger, so I turned into a post. Here it is:

Laura said yesterday here that in the book Go and Do Jay talks about how he ended up going to northern Thailand instead of doing a summer internship in the U.S. which could be a path for a lucrative career in the U.S. That trip changed his life as he became aware of the needs of children caught in the web of sex trafficking and exploitation in that part of the world.

But no need not rush to the Post Office and apply for a passport yet. There is so much you can do right where you are. For example, my town has some housing for low income families. Every Thursday a group of ladies from my church spend a couple of hours with ladies there, scrap booking, doing little art projects or just trading stories. Some of the ladies have mental or physical issues, but are so appreciative of the time they hang out with our ladies.

My town of 25 thousand people, mostly middle class Americans living their version of the American dream, also has its own “underworld.” A few years back some people occupied a run down area of town and refused to leave. That area is now called “tent city” and a lot of homeless people often find their way there. I know some people who go there frequently to bring used clothes, food, etc. The interaction with the people there is not always pleasant but the people who go there are always thankful they did.

I heard a story once told by Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Michael was driving his big SUV through the streets of Chicago when Charles asked him to turn around and head back. “There’s something I need to do.” They went back, Charles got out of the car, walked right up to a man begging on the street and gave him a one hundred dollar bill.” Michael said, “What did you that for?” Charles: “Didn’t you read his sign?” Michael: “No.” Charles: “It said, “I’m not going t lie to you. I need money for booze.”

Charles concluded, “You gotta appreciate a brother’s honesty.” My guess is that the sign was designed especially for guys like Charles who like to buck the system. But the larger point still remains: we are always looking for a reason to give. Rather, I think we need to look for opportunities that match our talent or our courage.

Today, for example, I watched as a group of about 15 men from my church did over 30 free oil changes in about four hours. They had a system going, but I couldn’t help to think that before they were ready to work this morning, there were some that made phone calls to the recipients, reserved facilities, brought equipment, prepared refreshments, etc., etc. There is always more opportunities than you see represented the day of the event. And you can get into the action at any point.

Some people went into a nursing home and visited elderly folks. A young lady sat outside where the oil change was happening and did beautiful face-painting art. A group went to an elementary school that is closing and brought a care package to every teacher and staff there.

But there is more. Every year we partner with Angel Tree to provide gifts to the children of parents who are in jail and cannot afford to give their kids anything for Christmas.  World Vision is also a great organization. Their gift catalog is rich with ideas for those who want to give sustainable gifts and not waste money on themselves for Birthdays.  How about Oxfam? Their tweets alone, almost every one of them, is an opportunity to go and do.

And if you have a chapter of International Justice Mission close to where you live, by all means, find out how you can get involved. I don’t know of any other organization doing more to help women and girls who are victims of the sex trafficking and economic exploitation the world over.

Okay, after you try one or two of these, and you get the “fever,” then you can start headed to the Post Office. But don’t smile. Smiling pictures on passports don’t is not a good sign in some other countries around the world!

Ivanildo C. Trindade