There are so many amazing causes out there, so much justice to be done, so many poor and downtrodden that need to be served, so many lost that need to know God’s grace. I can think of, oh, about 100 things I could spend $100 on for myself. But to be honest, when a friend asked me that question the other day – if I was freely given $100, not earned, not budgeted for, not having to talk to A to decide how to spend it, but given free and clear what would I do? – the only thing I wanted to do was give it away.
Now before you think I’m tooting my own philanthropic horn, I’m not. I grew up with the concept of giving back. My father, though he had no boundaries and often gave to the point of endangering our family, did teach me to hold onto things loosely, and to give with an open hand and open heart. As I’ve grown in my faith, I can’t help but feel that we who are so richly blessed have a responsibility to give back and not only support our church, but to help further the cause of justice world-wide. We have more access to more need than any other generation before us, thanks to a little thing we call the internet. Need is literally staring us in the face, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and shut down in the face of so much hurt. But it’s just as easy to give. Every little bit counts, and I believe that every little bit given freely is honored by God. So I give, not for self-aggrandisement, but because I, who have been so richly blessed, am compelled to give back that which I’ve been put in charge of.
So here are five organizations, in order of those that tug on my heart the most, that I would gladly give an unplanned-for $100 to in a heartbeat:
International Justice Mission is, in my opinion, one of the most important organizations out there today. IJM is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems – police, courts and laws – effectively protect the poor.
From their website:
Through individual casework, IJM confronts aggressive human violence: violence that strips widows and orphans of their property and livelihoods, violence that steals dignity and health from children trafficked into forced prostitution, violence that denies freedom and security to families trapped in slavery.
Violence against the poor is not driven by the overwhelming power of the perpetrators – it is driven by the vulnerability of the victims. This violence can be stopped when the power of the law is brought to bear on behalf of those who need it, and when people of good will contribute their financial and professional resources to insisting it stop. IJM’s casework model combats victimization and violence on the level of the individual, and supports functioning public justice systems where the poor urgently need an advocate.
In the tradition of heroic Christian leaders like abolitionist William Wilberforce and transformational leaders like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., IJM’s staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible’s call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. As a feminist and human rights advocate, IJM is everything I care about, and is directly fighting the oppression that I believe greaves God’s heart.
I came across this organization years ago, and many of my high school students have taken it upon themselves over the years to host fundraisers to contribute to TWLOHA’s mission. They deal with the broken, the hurting, the ones so wracked with pain that they turn on their own bodies, which makes this non-profit is very dear to my heart.
From their website:
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The vision is that we actually believe these things…
You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.
Made in the streets is an orginization my church has supported for longer than I’ve been attending. Charles & Darlene Coulston, former members of our church, went to Kenya on a short missions trip and were so moved by the plight of the street kids in Nairobi that they came back to the US only to raise funds so they could go back and get to work. They started with a small facility, rescuing kids who want a life off of the streets and out of the slums. Many street kids in Nairobi are addicted to glue-sniffing, and almost all of the girls have been victims of sexual assault. MITS offers them a new life, and offers a safe place, biblical study, and training in real-world skills.
From their website:
Our ministry begins in the streets of Eastleigh. We go to the streets to find kids just as they are, and offer them a new life. Our team is trained to take first aid, friendship, Bible study, food, sports, counseling, and the opportunity to go to a skills training school – all the things needed by children who are sleeping on the streets. On the streets, we are looking for boys and girls who are 13-14 years old and ready for a new life free from glue, drugs, stealing and hunger. We also look for young girls who are pregnant or have babies.
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt, rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash, and seats them among the honored guests, a place of honor among the brightest and best. Psalm 113:7-8
MITS has been going on so long that some of their early street kids have ‘graduated’ from the program and are working as staff members. Our church has personally committed to providing the monthly salary for two former street kid staff members. Other kids have moved on, taking the real-life trade skills they gained while at MITS and gotten jobs or started their own business. Others have started families that are forging a new path of health and prosperity in their family tree.
When Jesus went out and met people with real needs, He didn’t start by preaching a sermon at them. He met their needs first, showed them that He understood them and loved them, and by doing so He changed their lives forever. Living Water International has a vision to bring the gospel to underdeveloped nations, and they start by meeting one of humanities most basic needs: the need for water.
From their website:
Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.
Nearly 21 years ago, we set out to help the church in North America be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the poorest of the poor. More than a billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day. 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water. For all practical purposes, these statistics refer to the same people; around the world, communities are trapped in debilitating poverty because they constantly suffer from water-related diseases and parasites, and/or because they spend long stretches of their time carrying water over long distances.
In response to this need, we implement participatory, community-based water solutions in developing countries. Since we started, we’ve completed more than 10,000 water projects (and counting!) for communities in 26 countries.
I don’t know what it’s like to not have access to clean water. The closest I’ve ever come was having my water heater break a few weeks ago, or the time we had a pipe burst when I was a kid and we had to shut our water off. I can’t imagine walking with my kids dozens of miles to get to a dirty water source, just so I could fill a jug with brown water and carry it back home. I heard a comedian once say that “it’s no wonder other countries hate America. Most countries don’t have access to clean water, and here we have whole parks dedicated to playing in it.” I said as much to my high school kids on a group trip to Water World – jokingly, because I have a morbid sense of humor – and my justice minded, soft-hearted kids decided to host a charity lunch and raised enough money to build a well. I was humbled by their passion, and LWI remains one of my favorite charities. My mom makes a donation in my name for Christmas each year, and it’s the best present I could ask for.
I’ve listened to this humble call-in talk show since 2003. I’ve been to counseling, I’ve received mentoring, I’ve experienced healing, and I can say unequivocally that this talk show has been a major force in shaping me into the person I am today. It helped me through my family falling apart and having to carry a burden that no teenager should have to bear. It helped me learn to communicate in a healthy way, when my family of origin’s style of communicating was screaming at each other until someone left the room. It helped me identify the areas in my life where I was broken, and needed healing.
From their website:
To transform lives through God’s truth by reaching out compassionately to those who seek healing and restoration.
Connection, Truth, Transformation
Statement of Faith:
As a professional organization, we set forth the following beliefs which have been agreed to by the professional and support staff of New Life Ministries. These beliefs are essential to our treatment philosophy and ministry.
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has revealed Himself in creation, history, and in Jesus Christ.
- We believe in God’s creation of the world and humankind and in humanity’s rebellion and subsequent depravity.
- We believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His deity, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His true humanity, His miracles, His substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father, and in His coming personal return in power and in glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of the lost, sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. We believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ as one’s Savior.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life and to grow in the knowledge of God and Christian obedience.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost—the saved unto the resurrection of life and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ and in the importance of the church for worship, service and missions.
- We believe all human life is a sacred gift from God and is to be protected and defended from conception to natural death. We will uphold the sanctity of life and bring the grace and compassion of Christ to those who face the realities of previous abortion, unwanted pregnancy, and end-of-life illness.
- We believe in the importance of marriage. Specifically, that marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24), and that a person’s sex (male or female) is determined by God in the womb (Psalm 139:13) and revealed at birth.
- We further believe that marriage is a covenant relationship that is mirrored in the relationship between Christ and His Church (Revelation 19:7, 21:2, 21:9). And although the Bible states that divorce is permissible in two unusual circumstances (adultery as described in Matthew 5:31, and abandonment of a Christian by a non-Christian as described in I Corinthians 7:15), we will do all we can to preserve marriage.
- We believe that all psychological principles should be thoroughly evaluated through the grid of Scripture, and that Scripture always holds the final authority.
The wisdom you receive through listening to this show every day is priceless. I can never listen when it’s live, but I subscribe to their podcast and listen on my commute. Around my birthday I often ask friends and family to donate to New Life in lieu of giving me a gift, because in my life, New Life is truly a gift that keep giving.
Do you have any organizations you love to support? Give them a plug in the comment section below; I’d love to check them out!