When we watch the latest uprising on television or read about the toll
of the latest natural disaster on people in another country, we are
often inspired to help. We want to make a difference. We want to change
the world. But doing it is another matter.
We often find ourselves discouraged with the sheer magnitude of the
latest flood, earthquake, or war. Can anything we say or do really help?
The answer is yes, but not in the way you might think. When Mother
Teresa was asked how to change the world, she said it was by meeting the
need in front of you. This is also part of what Jesus had in mind when
he taught to love your neighbor as yourself, defining “neighbor” as the
anyone in need of compassion.
One anti-slavery organization commissioned a study to determine the best
way an American could help end world slavery. The conclusion? If every
American gave a small monthly donation ($10-$20/monthly) to anti-slavery
organizations, the funding would exist to end the global slave trade in
The point is that the little things matter. How you treat the cashier at
your local grocery or the server at your favorite restaurant is how you
and I begin to change the world.
Perhaps my favorite story on this topic comes from the encounter where a
woman brought an expensive jar of perfume as a gift for Jesus. Some
bystanders pointed out that the perfume could have been sold for a high
price and the money given to the poor. But Jesus responded, “She did
what she could.”
When this life is over, I hope God looks at me with the same attitude,
saying, “He did what he could.” I may not cure cancer or end poverty,
but I am determined to help those I meet each day with the love of God.
If enough of us do this, we really will change the world.
BURROUGHS is an author, activist, and co-founder of Activist Faith.
Dillon served in Haiti following the epic 2010 earthquake and has
investigated modern slavery in the US and internationally. His books
include Undefending Christianity, Not in My Town (with Charles J.
Powell), and Thirst No More (October). Discover more at DillonBurroughs.org.