In 2015, shoppers spent over $32 billion in stores on Black Friday, and over $3 billion online on Cyber Monday. The United Nations estimates that it would cost around $30 billion per year to end world hunger forever.
In other words, if everybody who went shopping over Thanksgiving weekend donated the same amount of money that we spent on products, the whole world of people, all 7 billion of us, would be fed every day next year.
Not to over-simplify the problem here--but don't you find this...interesting?
It is the week of Thanksgiving, a week during which most of us will introspect on all of the many ways God has generously blessed us while we feast with our friends and our families.
It is a celebration, indeed, but I also find myself feeling some pressure during this week from year to year. As the overtly materialistic experience of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have slowly but surely crept into the public's notion of what this holiday is about, I feel pressured to do something different--to go against the status-quo that our culture has deemed normal, especially considering that there are millions of people suffering in the world that don't get to feast on this holiday.
I desperately want to wrestle this holiday back from the grips of materialism and encourage my brothers and sisters to remember what Thanksgiving is truly about. Something we have a tendency to forget is that the word "giving" is contained within the title of our holiday. Is it only about giving thanks and eating copious amounts of pumpkin pie, or could there be more to the "giving" component of Thanksgiving?
The Spring months and Fall months are very rainy in the impoverished country of Myanmar.
Each year during these months, the rains fall heavy and hard upon rural farming villages, damaging hundreds of families' homes and nearly destroying their crops. Although it may seem that the rains are easy to predict and prepare for, the resources available to these families are extremely limited. Most of them live in small, one-room houses with thatch-roofs and reed-woven walls--none of which hold up very well against heavy rainfall.
Myanmar is predominantly a Buddhist nation, but some rural families practice Animism and ancestor worship as well. We praise God that IDES has trustworthy local Christian partners in and around these villages that share the Gospel of Christ with these families, especially during their time of great physical need during the flood seasons. It is IDES' ultimate goal to fulfill the Great Commission. That being said, many of the families we serve would not be willing or able to hear the good news if their physical needs were not met first by Jesus-followers.
Many people enjoy fishing as a hobby. Growing up in southern Illinois I had the opportunity to fish in dozens of farm ponds, creeks, old quarry beds, and large lakes.
While I was in high school my church youth group took a float-trip down Missouri’s Current River. There I discovered you can even fish while lying back in an inner-tube, floating lazily down an Ozark stream!
There is however one element common to all the fishing I have done in the Midwest. It always involves the use of a hook and line. Strange as it may sound, experience with the hook and line style of fishing can limit our ability to understand some of what transpires in the Gospels.
According to the UK charity AVERT, "an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses," since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s.
The epidemic is particularly destructive in developing countries with limited access to healthcare and education. Just last year in Sub-Saharan African countries, over 2.1 million new HIV infections were recorded, at least 150,000 of which were in children who were infected during infancy by their HIV-positive mothers.
One of the side-effects of the AIDS virus without treatment is a chronic weakening of the immune system. The virus attacks certain types of blood cells, thus leaving a patient vulnerable to multiple other life-threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and chronic diarrhea. This side effect is the sad reality for one little boy in Zimbabwe named Givens (and many others like him).
It is currently a season of change and division in America.
On all points of the political spectrum, people may be feeling fear and trepidation at who will be elected to top government offices. Is this fear well-grounded? Is this trepidation even Biblical?
Each morning, most of us wake up, take a shower, brush our teeth, wash our hands, cook breakfast, and brew coffee or tea.
All of these activities have one thing in common: water--a basic resource that we all-too-often take for granted. In a country like Ethiopia, water that's clean enough to bath in, to use for cooking, or to drink is very difficult to come by. Most natural water sources carry a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause severe water-borne illnesses such as Cholera, Schistosomiasis, Typhoid, E. coli, and Hepatitis A, just to name a few.
In the most rural villages of Ethiopia, family members must walk many miles to gather clean water and carry it back. Often, families will settle for dirty water merely due to its availability. What can we do to help?