Saturday, November 28, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is Your Help

I'm 22-years-old this Christmas and there are about a million things I would like to have under my tree this year. Trouble is, I already have about a million things... many are things I don't really need and the vast majority of them are things I really don't need. Most of you know I currently work a few jobs to pay for school and living. Meanwhile, I spend many nights worrying paying rent, student loans, insurance, living expenses, etc. I, like most people, have fallen into the vicious cycle of tricking myself into thinking the more things I possess, the more control I have over my, sometimes, overwhelming feelings of financially related stress.

And yet, as I sit in my bed typing this, it occurs to me that my feelings of distress are nothing in comparison to the mother in Africa who helplessly watches her baby suffer, and eventually die, from parasites his little body was too small to fight off. Or the family who won't eat tonight because their crops died in a drought and have no means of income. Or, here I am worrying about my own student loans, not even taking into account the blessings I've been given to even be able to obtain an education in the first place. Or the feelings of any one of the 27 million slaves in the world, locally and abroad, who are forced to sell their bodies--whether it be for violence, labor, or sex--for the profit of pimps and traffickers.

Once I really sat and took into account the amount of real suffering in the world, suddenly my student loans feel like less of a mountain and more of a molehill. But, to be honest, I felt helpless. That was until I did some research and found that there are ways we can all help. And this year all I want for Christmas is your help.

World Vision is a global organization founded in 1950 and one of the world leaders in providing food, medical supplies, and social change to some of the world's most vulnerable communities. With over 26,000 employs in 95 countries around world, World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Please feel free to visit their website at www.worldvision.org and/or www.worldvisiongifts.org

So, after some consideration I have come up with the following Christmas list. If you would like to give me a check/money for any of these items (it doesn't have to be the whole amount) or buy one of them and let me know, that would make my Christmas complete. :) Click on the links to learn more!

Animals:
2 Ducks: Cost $12
Give ducks to a hungry family today and they’ll benefit from hundreds of large, protein-rich eggs all year long. Extra duck eggs and hatched ducklings can be sold to buy medicine or help send a child to school. Ducks also provide valuable down-feathers and produce fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields!

1 Goat: Cost $75
A widow, single mother, or abandoned family will be overjoyed by your gift of a dairy goat. A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt. And income from the sale of the goat’s offspring and extra dairy products can be used for girls’ school tuition and other needs.

5 Rabbits: Cost $80
Rabbits multiply and multiply their blessings! God created rabbits to be among the most prolific animals on earth, making them a terrific gift for an impoverished family. With a gestation period of just 31 days, a pair of rabbits can easily become 50 rabbits within a single year. These offspring can provide food or be sold at market, producing a steady source of extra income.

Food:
Seeds for 2 families: Cost $34
Impoverished farming families in countries like Thailand, Lesotho, and Zambia struggle to raise enough food for their children. The seeds they use may be of poor quality, or they may not be able to afford seeds at all. These hybrid seeds are both fast growing and drought-resistant providing crops such as maize, rice, cassava, carrots, cabbage, green beans, peas, and onions.

Education:
Education for a Girl: Cost $35
Education is critical in equipping girls and women to overcome poverty. Yet in developing countries, half the girls of primary school age cannot attend classes. Some must work to help their families, or stay home to care for siblings. Others lack money for school fees. Your gift will offer girls the opportunity to learn reading and other valuable skills. You’ll also help them achieve self-esteem, self-confidence, and the chance to realize their full, God-given potential.

Help for Former Slaves:

Sexually exploited girls: Cost $35
Give hope for sexually exploited girls. Your gift will offer girls assistance like medical care, nutritious food, non formal education, vocational training, compassionate counseling, and, where possible, reintegration into a loving family environment.

Safety for an exploited child: Cost $50
In Cambodia, girls from impoverished communities are often taken from their families and forced into slavery as sex workers, street beggars, or laborers. Even those who escape often remain in great danger. Your gift will help build a safe, secure environment for one of these children. You’ll help prevent further exploitation by providing resources like livestock, vocational training, education, counseling, parenting skills, or training to provide income and stability.

Medical Supplies:

Shipping for medical supplies to foreign countries (Africa) : Cost $35
Your gift goes 14 times as far! Every day, thousands of children die because they do not have access to basic medicines that could save their lives. Your gift will multiply 14 times to help ship and distribute essential pharmaceuticals and medical supplies like: antibiotics, antifungals, antiparasitic drugs, deworming medications, disposable syringes, gastrointestinal drugs, painkillers, and surgical supplies.

HIV/AIDS Caregiver Kit: Cost $30
All around the world, local volunteer caregivers are serving those affected by AIDS — but the critical supplies they count on to relieve suffering are running dangerously low. Your gift will help provide and ship one kit containing supplies like latex gloves, antibacterial soap, petroleum jelly, and much more to equip those on the front lines of this crisis.

Clothing/Basic Supplies:
Necessities for impoverished American children: Cost $25
This gift multiplies to provide $350 worth of new clothing, diapers, blankets, and shoes to help American children in poverty. Thanks to corporate product donations, your gift will multiply 14 times in value!

Ministry:
4 Bibles in different languages: Cost $18 x 2
In many countries, poverty starves more than stomachs. The Bibles that feed minds and souls are scarce, especially where growing churches have more new believers than Bibles in their local language. Your gift will provide a Bible for a child or adult who is hungry for God’s Word, and can also provide Bible training or support youth Bible clubs in countries like Guatemala, Swaziland, and Zambia.

Misc.:
Congo Refugee Assistance: Cost $35
World Vision is rushing emergency assistance to displaced civilians, often women and children, in the Congo. Many are hungry, most have lost all their property, as they left it behind when fleeing the fighting.

Mosquito Nets for a Whole Family
: Cost $18
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that kills nearly 1 million children every year. Research has shown that bed nets provide one of the best ways to protect kids from malaria. That's why we want to supply 3 million life-saving bed nets for children in the hard-hit African nations of Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, and Mali. Prevention education will be provided with every bed net distributed. Thanks to our partnership with the Against Malaria Foundation, your gift enables us to purchase bed nets at deeply discounted prices, enabling us to protect many more children!

Grand total: $500
***

So, if you were planning on giving me a gift this year, or if the Christmas spirit so strikes you, I would love your help in reaching my goal--even $5 would be greatly appreciated! However, if you weren't planning on giving me a gift and/or it just isn't in your budget, I completely understand and God bless you for reading this far into my blog! But whatever you choose to do after reading this blog, I want to encourage you to remember that while celebrating the birth of the same Jesus who said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," to remember your global neighbors in need this Christmas season.

Thanks so much and God Bless you,

Nicole White

(If you need my address, just email me at nicolejeannette87@gmail.com and I will give it to you!)

The question of "appropriate" violence

I recently finished Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution and I have to say I loved it. Claiborne writes exceptionally well on the "revolutionary" idea of the true Christian life as it pertains to economics, violence/peace, loving one's neighbor and how those differ from the Americanized Christianity so many of us practice today.

However, his discussion of violence got me thinking. Claiborne argues that God's love and power is stronger and can overcome any unwanted situation--which I wholeheartedly agree with. I think if we all were to love, rather than fight, our neighbors, we would find a world revolutionized. In his thinking, Claiborne suggests that no Christian should ever act or react violently to the evils of the world--which, again, I agreed with... but then I got to thinking... Are we naive to think that the absence of action will always solve an immediate impending conflict and prove to be the most loving/peaceful option?

I noticed in his book, Mr. Claiborne is absolutely silent on the issue of self defense; other than asserting that "an eye for an eye" was meant not revenge, but as a means to prevent the escalation of violence. (An eye for an eye, not an eye for a life.) But it got me thinking, what about self defense? If attacked by a stranger, should I, as a Christian, not defend myself? And what about defending others? If, in the future, a man were about to harm my child and it took a violent act to stop him, would Claiborne suggest I watch my child be harmed? What would Jesus do in this situation and what am I to do?

I agree that peace should be our goal and as Christians our world view should be focused on bringing heaven to earth, but I have to wonder how "loving" it is to watch your neighbor die at the hand of violence when we could have prevented it by standing up to their oppressor.

Case in point: World War II. Claiborne laments over the tragedy of war in Iraq (yes, I agree with him that all violence, especially war, is a tragedy and should be mourned) and he discusses the travesty of our government sending over our soldiers to "kill" the Iraqis. However, I have to wonder if he is equally as opposed to American soldiers killing Nazis in order to free the Jews from their death sentences. Was it wrong, in his mind, in that case, or was it a so called "necessary evil"? Yes, it could be argued that the purpose of the Iraq conflict and that of the Nazis are very different, but it can also be argued that they are the same: protecting a body of people. If I ever meet Mr. Claiborne, I would really like to ask him if he believes if there is ever a point where violence is an "appropriate" response to stopping violence in this fallen world--as a means of defense. As much as I agree with the belief that we resort, as a human race, to violence much too quickly, I'm not completely convinced that stepping into an immediate situation and responding with equal force to save an innocent life is exactly a sin.

There is no easy answer to all of this and I am not going to even pretend like I have an answer. Furthermore, I'm not defending violence or suggesting that it is ever "right." But what I am suggesting is there may be a bigger picture than just the picture of cyclical violence Claiborne paints and pointing out a possible difference between revenge and defense. Two wrongs do not make a right, but what about seemingly necessary evils?

__________________

Thoughts also worth mentioning in his book:
  • He mentions "gentle revolution" and Che Guevera in the same sentence in a positive manor. Che Guevera was a brutal murder and killed all who disagreed with his "love revolution." I felt this was either a gross oversight or very ignorant of Mr. Claiborne.
  • He briefly brushes on the issue of abortion and life lost there, but makes no major effort to discuss the violence against the unborn child and how love can make a difference there. I wonder if this was intentional meaning war is a bigger issue (although he suggests we do not pick issues, but people to focus on) in his mind or if his war/peace discussion was just easier to address/all he wanted to truly address? He discusses humanizing war and putting faces to those people, but I feel he failed to do so on the tragedy of abortion, despite his few pro-life comments.
  • I appreciated his objective look at humanity as it relates to politics. Unlike most authors, he strayed away from "the scary Republicans" or the "bleeding heart liberals" routine. Instead, he pointed out the human condition of depravity on both sides of the struggles.
  • Finally, I appreciated his apparent desire to begin and end all discussions on peace and love in Scripture.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All I want for Christmas is your help

I'm 22-years-old this Christmas and there are about a million things I would like to have under my tree this year. Trouble is, I already have about a million things... many are things I don't really need and the vast majority of them are things I really don't need. Most of you know I currently work a few jobs to pay for school and living. Meanwhile, I spend many nights worrying paying rent, student loans, insurance, living expenses, etc. I, like most people, have fallen into the vicious cycle of tricking myself into thinking the more things I possess, the more control I have over my, sometimes, overwhelming feelings of financially related stress.

And yet, as I sit in my bed typing this, it occurs to me that my feelings of distress are nothing in comparison to the mother in Africa who helplessly watches her baby suffer, and eventually die, from parasites his little body was too small to fight off. Or the family who won't eat tonight because their crops died in a drought and have no means of income. Or, here I am worrying about my own student loans, not even taking into account the blessings I've been given to even be able to obtain an education in the first place. Or the feelings of any one of the 27 million slaves in the world, locally and abroad, who are forced to sell their bodies--whether it be for violence, labor, or sex--for the profit of pimps and traffickers.

Once I really sat and took into account the amount of real suffering in the world, suddenly my student loans feel like less of a mountain and more of a molehill. But, to be honest, I felt helpless. That was until I did some research and found that there are ways we can all help. And this year all I want for Christmas is your help.

World Vision is a global organization founded in 1950 and one of the world leaders in providing food, medical supplies, and social change to some of the world's most vulnerable communities. With over 26,000 employs in 95 countries around world, World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Please feel free to visit their website at www.worldvision.org and/or www.worldvisiongifts.org

So, after some consideration I have come up with the following Christmas list.

Animals:
2 Ducks: Cost $12
Give ducks to a hungry family today and they’ll benefit from hundreds of large, protein-rich eggs all year long. Extra duck eggs and hatched ducklings can be sold to buy medicine or help send a child to school. Ducks also provide valuable down-feathers and produce fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields!

1 Goat: Cost $75
A widow, single mother, or abandoned family will be overjoyed by your gift of a dairy goat. A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt. And income from the sale of the goat’s offspring and extra dairy products can be used for girls’ school tuition and other needs.

5 Rabbits: Cost $80
Rabbits multiply and multiply their blessings! God created rabbits to be among the most prolific animals on earth, making them a terrific gift for an impoverished family. With a gestation period of just 31 days, a pair of rabbits can easily become 50 rabbits within a single year. These offspring can provide food or be sold at market, producing a steady source of extra income.

Food:
Seeds for 2 families: Cost $34
Impoverished farming families in countries like Thailand, Lesotho, and Zambia struggle to raise enough food for their children. The seeds they use may be of poor quality, or they may not be able to afford seeds at all. These hybrid seeds are both fast growing and drought-resistant providing crops such as maize, rice, cassava, carrots, cabbage, green beans, peas, and onions.

Education:
Education for a Girl: Cost $35
Education is critical in equipping girls and women to overcome poverty. Yet in developing countries, half the girls of primary school age cannot attend classes. Some must work to help their families, or stay home to care for siblings. Others lack money for school fees. Your gift will offer girls the opportunity to learn reading and other valuable skills. You’ll also help them achieve self-esteem, self-confidence, and the chance to realize their full, God-given potential.

Help for Former Slaves:

Sexually exploited girls: Cost $35
Give hope for sexually exploited girls. Your gift will offer girls assistance like medical care, nutritious food, non formal education, vocational training, compassionate counseling, and, where possible, reintegration into a loving family environment.

Safety for an exploited child: Cost $50
In Cambodia, girls from impoverished communities are often taken from their families and forced into slavery as sex workers, street beggars, or laborers. Even those who escape often remain in great danger. Your gift will help build a safe, secure environment for one of these children. You’ll help prevent further exploitation by providing resources like livestock, vocational training, education, counseling, parenting skills, or training to provide income and stability.

Medical Supplies:

Shipping for medical supplies to foreign countries (Africa) : Cost $35
Your gift goes 14 times as far! Every day, thousands of children die because they do not have access to basic medicines that could save their lives. Your gift will multiply 14 times to help ship and distribute essential pharmaceuticals and medical supplies like: antibiotics, antifungals, antiparasitic drugs, deworming medications, disposable syringes, gastrointestinal drugs, painkillers, and surgical supplies.

HIV/AIDS Caregiver Kit: Cost $30
All around the world, local volunteer caregivers are serving those affected by AIDS — but the critical supplies they count on to relieve suffering are running dangerously low. Your gift will help provide and ship one kit containing supplies like latex gloves, antibacterial soap, petroleum jelly, and much more to equip those on the front lines of this crisis.

Clothing/Basic Supplies:
Necessities for impoverished American children: Cost $25
This gift multiplies to provide $350 worth of new clothing, diapers, blankets, and shoes to help American children in poverty. Thanks to corporate product donations, your gift will multiply 14 times in value!

Ministry:
4 Bibles in different languages: Cost $18 x 2
In many countries, poverty starves more than stomachs. The Bibles that feed minds and souls are scarce, especially where growing churches have more new believers than Bibles in their local language. Your gift will provide a Bible for a child or adult who is hungry for God’s Word, and can also provide Bible training or support youth Bible clubs in countries like Guatemala, Swaziland, and Zambia.

Misc.:
Congo Refugee Assistance: Cost $35
World Vision is rushing emergency assistance to displaced civilians, often women and children, in the Congo. Many are hungry, most have lost all their property, as they left it behind when fleeing the fighting.

Mosquito Nets for a Whole Family
: Cost $18
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that kills nearly 1 million children every year. Research has shown that bed nets provide one of the best ways to protect kids from malaria. That's why we want to supply 3 million life-saving bed nets for children in the hard-hit African nations of Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, and Mali. Prevention education will be provided with every bed net distributed. Thanks to our partnership with the Against Malaria Foundation, your gift enables us to purchase bed nets at deeply discounted prices, enabling us to protect many more children!

Grand total: $500
***

So, if you were planning on giving me a gift this year, or if the Christmas spirit so strikes you, I would love your help in reaching my goal--even $5 would be greatly appreciated! However, if you weren't planning on giving me a gift and/or it just isn't in your budget, I completely understand and God bless you for reading this far into my blog! But whatever you choose to do after reading this blog, I want to encourage you to remember that while celebrating the birth of the same Jesus who said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," to remember your global neighbors in need this Christmas season.

Thanks so much and God Bless you,

Nicole White

(If you need my address, just email me at nicolejeannette87@gmail.com and I will give it to you!)