He looked to be around 5 or 6 years old and as I approached he appeared nervous, or shy, I couldn’t quite tell. He was probably unsure as to why these mzungus were coming up to this little shepherd boy. I was able to greet him in Swahili but that was pretty much where the conversation ended. I noticed his torn and dusty clothes had been repaired by hand, he must have a loving caretaker at home- but he was still in need of a good bath. It was his distended stomach that had commanded my attention and gave him away as being malnourished and desperately impoverished. I wish I had something substantial to offer him, a biscuit or piece of fruit to ease his pain, but I knew it would only be temporary and I had no food on me anyway. So I gave him all I had – my smile, my time and a few little toy penguins – small treasures for him to hold onto and squirrel away. You know how little children love their tiny treasures.
For the past few months, I have been considering this concept of “one”. I might not be able to make a difference to the whole world, but I can make a difference to one. I can make a difference to this one.
I belong to a church that focuses on the teaching of Jesus, and how, while ultimately, he impacted an entire world, he was focused on impacting the one. He loved the one, he provided for the one and heard the one.
We tell our Millennials that they can change the world, that they can be the instigators of world wide and cultural change, that they can be all that the world needs and the world has open arms for them and their plans. But we’ve only sold them half the deal, the self-glorifying and feel good part, that eventually leads to personal failure and disappointment anyway. God doesn’t want us to focus on the multitudes, he wants us to focus on the one. And when you focus on the one – you do impact the many.
When faced with the overwhelming needs of those in this world, we can often just lay down and claim that it’s all too hard.
It’s too hard to persevere against the evil dictators who are destroying nations far away from us.
It’s too hard fighting corrupt nations to provide aid to forgotten people where so much money disappears into bureaucracy sinkholes and inefficient processes that suck aid money dry.
It’s too hard trying to change generational cycles of abuse and dysfunction that continue to keep people groups in pain and disadvantage.
But when you are faced with the one. Everything changes.
When you see the one. Everything changes.
You can do something for the one.
Our trip to Tanzania to see the work of Water For Africa drew me back to this concept of one. While providing clean water for an entire village, it helps the one. It prevents “the one” from contracting e-coli from contaminated drinking water from local streams and water sources. It enables “the one” to have time to play and attend school instead of spending hours in the carting of water. It assists “the one” to grow and manage crops for both themselves and for the production of income to better provide for their family. And in impacting this “one”, you ultimately impact a village.
When looking at the worldwide situation with so much need, we can become overwhelmed with how little we have to offer. But if every individual gave a little of themselves, those needs would be met one at a time until our impact can collectively be noticed. We can be world changers by thinking small.
At the same location where this little shepherd boy lived, Water For Africa were doing the final stages of a well installation that had been drilled by hand the previous week using local villagers. It was the only well available in the village servicing 1500 people from the surrounding areas, and we knew it would have an incredible impact on the lives of the many living there. On the side of the manual pump, a small memorial plaque had been attached that a mother in Perth had lovingly worded and planned for.
In the midst of grief after losing her 22-year-old son, she had decided to purchase a well in his honor to bring life and hope to others. Her loss was the catalyst for life in this tiny remote Tanzanian village.
On the side was the inscription – “if love could have saved you” Those words, although perhaps inscribed with grief in the forefront, were being turned into prophetic actions. The love she was giving was perhaps saving the one that otherwise could have been lost. Thank you Mumma from Perth. You saw the one that you could help, even in your grief.
For the rest of my days, my focus will be on the one that I can help – that is all that is asked of us. Being a superhero is easy when you only need to focus on helping the one. WIll you join me in this?
Water for Africa is an Australian based charity that installs, maintains and repairs wells in Tanzania. They are looking to broaden their reach into other countries to meet the desperate need for access to clean water. Please consider supporting them financially as they seek to save the forgotten ones.