Growing up, there was a constant portrait on the fridge — a picture of a child. I knew that we helped her, somehow, but the ‘how’ was entirely vague. All I knew was that I wrote Christmas and birthday letters to her, but didn’t know what these actions meant. When Christmas rolled around and my family filled shoe boxes with toys and useful trinkets, I thought it was fun, but again, didn’t understand the point behind it. I heard the word “hope” frequently discussed in church in connection with these actions, and still do today. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued many of the giving practices my family did when I was a child, but I’ve realized that there is a disconnect between my actions and my heart.
It can be all too easy to lose sight of what moves you. Of what you want to accomplish, or even where you started. I’ve sometimes found myself wondering what donating really means, and how I as one person can make a difference. Does giving money really produce hope for people? I put this question to Mike Woodard, a staff member with Power to Change’s ministry FamilyLife, who is passionate about spreading hope. He recently took part in the Ride for Refuge, a fundraiser that helps charities like Global Aid Network (GAiN) support their ministry abroad.
“The thing that I find really encouraging is the fact that you have all these people do their little part, and then the sum total is very significant,” Mike says. “Whether they invite someone, ask for support, or participate, all our small pieces fit together to make something quite beautiful.” Though we might not immediately be able to see the entire picture or the outcome on a child’s life, all of the pieces do come together.
According to GAiN, $8.50 alone allows one person to have disease-free water. That’s a small contribution on my part, and life-changing for someone else. It’s certainly a good reason to engage.
“I wanted to participate for a variety of reasons,” Mike says about the Ride. He was just one of the 106 people gathered in six cities across Canada on bikes or on foot. The funds are used by GAiN to raise support and provide access to safe water, the gospel, and community development for displaced, vulnerable, and exploited people in Benin, Togo, and Tanzania. “It’s fun to be part of a group effort, and to be directed towards a cause. I get to spend time with friends and enjoy their company. And it’s so exciting to be part of the overall effort of raising $30,000 in a healthy activity.”
Sometimes it takes hearing other people’s passion to connect to your own, and remember why you began your giving practices in the first place. Maybe it’s taking part in an event where you can gather with other like-minded people. For me, the shift comes when I see the lives that are changed because of all the people and pieces that came together to make that hope possible.
To learn more about how GAiN is helping to reveal hope and restore life through relief and development initiatives for people living in crisis and injustice, click here.