Alyssa Esparaz is an Advocacy Associate at Compassion Canada. She is joining us at GIRL365 to share her experience of what it means to live with greater compassion. Thanks, Alyssa!
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It is a messy world out there. It just takes a quick scroll through the news to see all the poverty, suffering, injustice and conflict in the world. It can get really overwhelming! Is there anything we as young women in Canada can really do about it? The short answer is yes—with God’s help, of course!
There are no easy answers or quick solutions to the tough things that are going on in the world. But there are small steps we can all take in our everyday lives to respond with compassion and spread Jesus’ hope, light, and love in the world!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Poverty and injustice are big issues that we won’t be able to tackle without prayer. Start by praying specifically for the needs you see in the world. Then pray and ask God how you can respond. Ask him for courage, wisdom and strength as you take action!
2. Change the Way You Shop
I love a new sweater or a warm cup of coffee as much as the next girl, but when I started learning about the direct impact my purchases can have on people living in poverty, I decided that I needed to rethink the way I shop. Many consumer items are made by people who aren’t paid fairly or work in unsafe conditions. Other times, the environmental impacts of our purchases can hurt the homes and communities of people living in poverty. I decided that I needed to start asking tougher questions of the companies I buy things from, supporting companies and organizations that are committed to producing their products fairly. I also decided to buy less overall so my impact is less. Here are a few good places to start in rethinking the way you shop: www.madeinafreeworld.com, www.goodguide.com, www.betterworldshopper.com.
3. Give Time & Talents
God has gifted you with incredible skills and talents that He delights in seeing you use to bless others! Perhaps you love to cook and could give some time to cook for a local homeless shelter. Perhaps you have the gift of administration and could help organize a way for your youth group to serve at a local ministry. Maybe you have the gift of teaching and want to tutor a struggling student in an at-risk community. Maybe you knit and want to make hats and scarfs for a local shelter. Whatever it is, keep this in mind: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)
4. Give or Raise Funds
A woman I look up to once told me that if you don’t start giving as a young person—even if it’s one dollar or 25 cents per month—it will be really hard to start a habit of giving when you’re older and are making money at a job. Whether it’s 25 cents from your allowance or $10 from your birthday money or $50 from your part-time job, start by giving what you can. Is there an urgent need or a crisis overseas? Maybe there’s a local organization you volunteer at that you’d like to give to. Is there an issue such as human trafficking, girls’ education, or safe housing that you’re particularly passionate about?
One of the ways I started giving as a teenager was by sponsoring a Compassion child, Happyness from Tanzania. It’s not just about the money: I love being able to connect personally with Happyness through letters, praying for her, and journeying alongside her as she grows physically, socially and in her faith.
If you want to take it a step further, you might consider organizing a fundraiser for an organization you love or an issue you’re really passionate about. (Hint: "How to Organize a Fundraiser" article coming soon!)
5. Don't Give Up!
It can get discouraging when we don’t see results right away or when it seems like our efforts are only making a small dent in big problems. But the Bible encourages us to keep going. Jesus tells his followers in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us that it will be tough, but not to worry, because it’s not any one of our jobs to save the world—Jesus has already done that. All He asks is that we give of ourselves “to loose the chains of injustice, ... to set the oppressed free, ... to share our food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when we see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from our own flesh and blood.” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Be encouraged! God is in the business of redeeming and restoring all that is broken—that is the good news of following Him. And we get to be a part of that story in big and small ways as we live out our everyday lives.
How are you taking steps to live a more compassionate life? We would love to hear your stories! Connect with us and let us know.
*To check out an excellent, free curriculum about poverty, its spiritual roots, and what young people in the Church can do about it, go here. It’s called True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty and it is totally free for youth groups and small groups to download and use! (Bonus: the videos are hosted by the lovely Alyssa!)
*For more info about Compassion Canada, and how to sponsor a child, click here!