George served on the mission team in the church I belonged to before I became a pastor. Deeply concerned about world hunger, George wanted to do something that would help people get out of that entrenched poverty which leads to malnutrition. Having studied the issue for years, he decided to become an agent for change. An engineer in the food industry by trade, he started asking, how he could use his knowledge and expertise to export technology to third world countries. I’m pretty sure George was the one who started the conversation with his friends, though he would never take credit for it.
There were some false starts, but eventually he and his friends discovered that grinders would bring about significant change in rural areas of Africa and Central America. Grinders for grains and grinders for peanuts. Women were empowered and became small business owners while, students in engineering classes back home were mentored into caring. When George died a few years ago it was noted that in one project alone he had helped save the lives of 120,000 children. He never took a break from volunteering, either with Bountifield International, the organization he helped found, or in simple neighborly tasks. He was a person who lived his faith.
Not all of us are gifted quite so much, but each of us can make a difference. Our lives are richer when we use the gifts and talents God has given us in service to others. Oh, there will be times we may feel a bit used. We will meet people who could do for themselves without our help. But then one day we will be surprised by the power of a simple gift. What we thought was nothing, meant everything.
A number of years ago, a young man I’d never seen before stopped by my office. He said he needed gas so he could get to a job interview. Fresh out of cash, all I had to give him was an almost used gas card and a prayer. A few days later he stopped by to thank me. He’d gotten the job. He came again to thank me. Then once more. Each time he told me how the gift I had given him had changed his life. I thought of the eight dollars left on that gas card and I knew that it wasn’t I who had given him a gift. It was he who had gifted me. He had reminded me what a blessing it is to make a difference in another person’s life.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
A version of this post was first published January 28, 2015 as Making A Life of Difference