Sitting in my recliner sipping my ice water and listening to the newscaster talk about South Asia being clobbered with tons of seawater, the ironic need for fresh drinking water began to seep into my consciousness.
As I watched condensation collect on my glass, I found myself wishing for a way that I could at least share my glass of water with one of those victims. How many people, I wondered, would be simply grateful for the drips coming off my glass?
The truth is that I can’t send them my glass of water; but like most of you, I do have the resources to send them something that can buy water and a whole lot more. And chances are that at least half of you are sitting on that resource right now. It’s called your wallet.
Some of you may be thinking, “Uh-oh, the chaplain’s talking money. Time to check the sports page.” But the truth is that talking money puts me in some pretty good spiritual company.
Many a Christian theologian and Bible teacher will tell you that Jesus had more to say about money than any other single topic. He made it a priority because He knew that a person’s heart would always reflect what he or she really treasures. And in that emphasis, Jesus wasn’t alone. Many other faiths teach the need to give as well.
Yet despite this universal truth, I can tell you that during the ten years I spent delivering sermons to Christian congregations, I never got a warm reception to the topic. When asked to give money, most of us react much like the rich young ruler in the Bible who “went away sorrowful” after rejecting Jesus’ suggestion to give his possessions to the poor.
But rarely in history has even the most Scrooge-like heart been presented with such an altruistic reason to give so generously. With the official death toll from the South Asian tsunami now surpassing 150,000, thousands of survivors continue to be threatened by homelessness, hunger and deadly disease. It’s time to give now, give until it hurts, and give again.
Many might ask, “How can one single person make a difference?
Gee, I thought we settled that question with the last two elections. If you don’t believe in the power of one, talk the newly elected governor of Washington State who was recently elected by only 129 votes. Just like there is power in each vote cast, there is power in each dollar given.
I know that most of us don’t have the personal clout of ex-presidents Bush and Clinton who began contributing their time this month on the charity circuit. And it would be rare that any of you are able to draft money from your offshore accounts in the amounts Sandra Bullock and Leonardo DiCaprio gave this past month.
However, I’m guessing that if you withdrew from your bank the same percentage given by some of these celebrities, we might begin to see some real recovery. Soon, small amounts given by the few will collect the energy of the many.
In the end I believe generosity will beget generosity and history will record that the powerful ocean tsunami of 2004 was dwarfed by the tidal wave of generosity that swept the globe in 2005.
Action Against Hunger
All India Movement for Serva
Air Serv International
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.
American Jewish World Service
American Red Cross
ARMDI, Israeli Red Cross
Association for India’s Development
Baptist World Aid
B’nai B’rith International
Brother’s Brother Foundation
Catholic Relief Services
Christian Children’s Fund
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Church World Service
Direct Relief International
Doctors Without Borders
Episcopal Relief and Development
Food for the Hungry, Inc.
Hellen Keller International
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Medical Corps
International Orthodox Christian Charities
International Relief Teams
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Latter-Day Saint Charities
Lutheran World Relief
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Network for Good
Northwest Medical Teams
Operation Blessing International
Project Concern International
SAWSO (Salvation Army World Service Office)
Save the Children USA
Stop Hunger Now
UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
U.N. World Food Programme
World Emergency Relief
World Health Organization