My husband wears a bracelet that says One by One. He’s worn it on his left wrist for two years now.
One by one is a ministry in Kenya and Sri Lanka whose mission statement is simply to “Stop for the one”. They have seen an overwhelming amount of poverty and devastation, but God has allowed them to bring hope to countless orphans, widows, and sex trafficking victims because he called them to make a difference in the life of just one individual at a time.
I know this isn’t some new ground breaking revelation, but it’s easy to forget. With the political climate of our nation right now the hate, the brokenness, and darkness can definitely be overwhelming. My heart has ached with grief for all that I see in the news to the point that I have struggled with being depressed and frozen with fear over many issues. I have cried out to God wondering what in the world can I do to make a difference.
I think so many of us are in the same boat. We see politicians touting statistics about all the different people groups that they are trying to win over. We see statistics about guns, the disabled, the transgendered, african americans, and women. People argue about how to help or who is right and in the midst of all this mass media I have felt Christ calling me to stop for the one. People are more than statistics. It’s time to get offline and seek out the lost art of having heart to heart connections with individuals.
When I wrote about “How to Never Offend Anyone” I said
One time I considered writing about
“What to say when you see a child with a disability” because my
daughter is deaf and has cochlear implants. I can tell that some people feel awkward around us at times. The problem with my list is that I would encourage people to talk with me openly about their thoughts
and curiosities. I love answering questions and educating people on what the cochlear implant is all about! However, I have lots of friends who are parents of deaf children and some of them do not like talking about it.
Or sometimes it depends on the day! So there is no list of do’s and don’ts because there aren’t just “Parents of Deaf Children”-period. It’s more complex than that.
Similarly there aren’t just pregnant ladies, or women who have had c-sections, or biracial couples, or introverts,
or working moms. There are just people! Individual people.
Having a daughter who is considered a minority because she can’t hear has really opened my eyes to what that looks like and how diverse and personal living with this disability is. There is no one size fits all bandaid ESPECIALLY in the deaf community. There are not just “Deaf People”. There are lots of individuals who have various degrees of hearing loss and need customized help in getting whatever form of treatment they subscribe to.
Let me give another eye opening experience. Because of what we walked through in the midst of our unemployment we have had exposure to another minority group. Families living in poverty.
My son has been a part of the Back Pack Program and Free Lunch Program. When we were on food stamps we automatically qualified for these opportunities. Which also meant we were offered the chance to have free non-perishable food items discreetly put in my son’s backpack so that he could eat at home. We weren’t in a situation that we needed to participate in that program or the free summer lunches, but the fact is they were made available. The thing that struck me is how many children still go hungry in our community!
When we were unemployed we had access to more food than we ever had in our lives! How is it that people are still going without!? Then it hit me that there are a lot of kids whose parents probably don’t sift through all the papers that come in their child’s backpack so they don’t even know about the programs (or are too drunk or high to care in some cases). Or maybe they don’t have a ride to get to the location where free food is served in the summer time. My heart is broken to the point of tears when I think about it. No amount of programs will stop hunger, but getting to know individuals in impoverished communities and forming relationships would give us a shot at reaching more.
In all of this I am not saying that we shouldn’t label culture groups or races. There is beauty in having these commonalities! I am also not saying we shouldn’t fight for changes in laws or have programs to help minorities. It’s kind of like Christ says in Matthew 5:17- I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. When we look at Jesus’ example he spoke to the masses, but more than that he stopped for the one lost sheep, or the children that wanted to be near him, or the woman who touched his garment.
So when I get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues our society faces I feel God calling me to be like Him and stop for the one. Whether it’s a neighbor who is in an abusive marriage, or a kid at school that is being bullied, or a woman in front of you in line who needs help paying for groceries. I don’t want to give real life examples because I want to respect the privacy of the people God has brought into my life, but even in a situation where we are still not quite out of the welfare hole ourselves I have had so many opportunities to help serve individuals shoulder to shoulder and to create change.
No matter what happens with any politician there is really only so much they can do with their claims to help immigrants or minorities etc. because they are going to use that one size fits all bandaid approach. We have the power to do more though just by stopping for one lost individual.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa
The last photo is from One by One ministries, a team of people who are seeing change by reaching the world’s poorest one life at a time. Check out onebyone.net to hear the heart of what my friends are doing over seas.