Preventing the tragic loss of children’s lives – A perspective on Sandy Hook school shooting

If you knew that you could have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting and saved 20 children’s lives would you have done it?

If you knew that $1,000.00 would have prevented the tragedy and saved 20 kids lives would you have found a way to give?

As my thoughts have been consumed with the CT tragedy and the grief stricken families I have been flooded with different emotions and overwhelmed by global realities.

I have been reminded again about how controlled our responses are by media. And at the same time how stuck in the sand our heads are about the realities of death and tragedy, and the loss of life in our world.

If 20 jumbo jets filled with children crashed today that would make the news and we would be filled with emotion and grief. Our politicians would be talking about airline regulations and prevention strategies. But because this many children didn’t die in a “tragic media worthy” way it goes virtually unnoticed that this many children die EVERY DAY due to something we can prevent… WATER!

We say we care about children and the loss of an innocent life and then we turn our head when the call to action comes and we change the channel… But when the “TRAGIC” happens we watch the horrific news all day.

PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME!

I am in no way minimizing the tragedy, the grief or the real suffering that is associated with the CT shooting. But instead of minimizing it I am trying to bring reality to the real grief of parents every 15 seconds. What makes a grieving non televised mother any different than one that was televised? To me it is a tragedy when a parent watches their child die from a water related illness. And probably the greatest tragedy of all is to know we could have prevented it and done nothing.

Part of what keeps our head in the sand is the magnitude of the tragedy. It is so big I can’t solve it and I feel overwhelmed by it so I ignore it. I’ve seen the pics, I’ve heard the story and honestly those kids are far enough away I don’t have to deal with it… But if those kids were Americans, or my neighbors I might feel more connected.

We react and respond to things that “hit closer to home”. Unfortunately this does not match our words to the value of life. Somehow the value goes up based on geography.

I’m not asking for everyone to solve the problem but for everyone to do something. Every $50 = water for life for a child.

So now let me ask the question again… If you knew you could prevent the tragic loss of 20 children’s lives would you?

What about the gift of life giving water for each member of your family?

What about one less Christmas gift for us and one more Christmas gift for a child who would simply love some water for Christmas.

What about honoring the lives of those children in CT by being a part of preventing the loss of more lives.

Every day I run I am reminded of these precious lives and I run harder for them.

I would love to help 20 more children in honor of the 20 children in CT. Who will help me?

http://support.worldvision.org/goto/darrell

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“All For One and One for All”

Up until my trip to Africa my view of child sponsorship was very limited. I saw a child and failed to see that child’s community. Oh I talked about community and connecting the child, but everything was focused on “all for one.” It was all about that child. What I didn’t realize was how World Vision’s model empowers and maximizes that “one for all.”

Let me explain. When we sponsor a child we promise that “one” an education, food to eat, medical provision, Aids awareness, clean water etc. however when you stop and realize that some of these areas don’t have a school, or clinic, or clean water… Giving a child all the money in the world can’t fulfill the promises. So the genius of the model works like this.

School in World Vision ADP (Area Development Project)

No school… Pool money from each sponsored child in a village and build a school in the village. Outcome… Every sponsored child can now attend school. However so can every unsponsored child in the village…

“All for one” just became “one for all.”

The promise is fulfilled and multiplied to others.

Fresh onions from family farm – because of irrigation project

Lack food... We tend to think that when we sponsor a child money is used to buy that child a bag of rice or a meal. But check this out. We promise that that child will eat as will all the sponsored children in a village. So if we pool resources from each sponsored child we could build irrigation canals and every family can have an onion farm providing resources to feed not just their sponsored child but the whole family.

Hauling water from a WV water source

Gathering water from a WV water source (looks like bad water but all water is boiled from this source)

Lack water… Many children travel many miles a day to collect water. One child in this village cannot attend school because she travels 3 times per day approximately 7 miles per trip to collect water for her family. When water is provided in the village everybody benefits. Children can go to school because their day is not consumed traveling for water.

I think you get the idea… The promises are true… Your sponsored child gets an education, food, clean water, etc but that sponsorship impacts so many more at the same time.

Petro, My sponsored child from Tanzania

WV staff member translating a sponsor’s letter

So what is the difference between my sponsored child and the other children? First and probably most importantly, your sponsored child has a relationship with you. That relationship is personal and the power of that relationship is profound (see previous blog)! The value of this relationship alone is FAR greater than $35 per month. I cannot stress the importance of this relationship enough!

WV staff with file for a sponsored child

The other difference is the relational contact between World Vision staff and your child. Your child receives monthly contact and check ups by staff members in addition to personal visits every time you write your child. These children become ambassadors for their village painting a picture of what is happening in the village with all the children.

WV Core Values on wall at ADP field office

The goal of world vision is to develop a community in such a way that it is self sustaining with all the promises available for ALL the children. Your sponsorship of one impacts all.

We truly are

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL”

If you have not sponsored a child and would like to click here. This is our sponsorship page for our Kilimanjaro Team World Vision climb. When you sponsor a child you can simply put my name as “Athlete” to complete the form.

Bee hives from WV honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Banking


Irrigation Canal from river

Family Onion Farm

Sampling an onion from a family farm

Maasai family Benefitting from child sponsorship

Making a list and checking it only twice… NO WAY!

I am continuing to discover how out of control I am. I have probably checked my luggage for the hundredth time. Guess what, my camera is still where I put it and I still can’t be sure whether I am missing anything or not. However, even as I write this I am thinking, “where exactly did I put my camera”. I am a mess! So why do I continue to look in my bags? Why do I wonder about where things are? Am I just a freak or is it maybe simply nervous energy? I’m going to go with the nervous energy.

As I sit in Los Angeles tonight awaiting our 9:45 departure in the morning, besides checking bags, I am spending time thanking God for all the people in my life who have been a part of this journey. Some have been encourages, some prayer warriorers, some have forever changed a child’s life through sponsorship, some have helped with financial support, and some have picked up the baton and have helped others sponsor children.

My personal goal was 100 children. The final numbers are not in and I won’t know for sure until I return, but if we are not over the goal we are very close. Think about that. There are at least 100 real children’s lives that will be forever changed. They have a new hope and a future that they would not have had had it not been for you! THANK YOU! This is the reason we are climbing this mountain, for the kids.

Put yourself in the position of a parent of one of these children for a moment. How do you feel about those who sponsored your son or daughter? What would you like to say to that sponsor? Now let those word and feelings of gratitude resonate within you because there are mothers and fathers tonight who are filled with gratitude for YOU!

Well, looks like my bags are right where I left them. I wonder if anybody took anything out while I was writing? Maybe I should check? Now where did I put my camera? See you in a couple of weeks.

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Jambo, Jina langu ni Petro

Jambo, Jina langu ni Petro…. (Hello my name is Petro.)

Petro is my 8 year old “son” in Tanzania, who I hope I get to see and hug this next week.

Petro is a “Hope” child. A “hope” child is a child living in a predominately Aids infested area.

World Vision Hope Initiative is an unprecedented campaign to address the needs of children, families and communities that have been devastated by the global HIV and AIDS pandemic.

Orphans and vulnerable children often do not have enough food to eat, have no access to proper medical care and cannot attend school, and face abuse and neglect. In many cases they must care for sick and dying parents as well as younger siblings.

Children like Petro are highly vulnerable.

You can be vulnerable and not be in poverty but you can not be in poverty and not be vulnerable.

When you sponsor a child like Petro you reduce their vulnerability. You connect them with a loving community and give them access to the necessities of life that give them a hope and a future.

Will you join me and our Kilimanjaro team and change a child’s life forever.

 

Simply click here and build a relationship with a child like Petro…

 

Future posts will focus on how you can build a relationship that will change your sponsored child’s life as well as you and your families lives.

Enjoy the journey

Coincidence or divine encounter???

On a flight a couple weeks ago I had probably one of the most significant divine encounters on this Kilimanjaro journey.  It was an encounter filled with unbelievable “coincidences” some would say.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that the man who sat next to me had climbed Kili.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he was a medical dr who had answers to many of my questions about mountain climbing. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he was investigating faith in christ and reading a book given to him by a friend about this.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I know his friend and that he is a Nazarene medical dr.  And that he attends a church nearby where i live.  I don’t believe it is a coincidence that he needed me and I needed him on that flight.  I believe it was a divine encounter.  God brought two lives together for each of our growth.

Out of this encounter children will be sponsored and their lives forever changed.

Out of this encounter I was educated on Kili, climbing, altitude sickness

Out of this encounter he received answers to many of his questions on faith

Out of this encounter he made some connections about human trafficking, and the difference he can make

Out of this encounter passion was stirred to make a difference here in USA as well

As our families have dinner together next week it is my prayer that what God started on a plane will move beyond us to our wives, children and ultimately to the world around us that others lives will be impacted and God will receive honor and praise.

I know this, he is excited about sponsoring some children and impacting his world and deepening his pursuit of God because of an encounter on a plane.

When was the last time you had a divine encounter?

Divine encounters are becoming a regular occurrence in my life.  I think it is because I expect them now and am always watching for them.

Thank you Jesus for showing up on airplanes and for another divine encounter.

Border Wars

But what about all the kids in our own country?

These words ring in my ears and break my heart. Do we have needs in America? Yes. Should we care about the poor, the hurting, the trafficked and homeless and hungry in America? Again a resounding yes.

However, often times the scenario looks something like this.

Me… “Here is an opportunity to change a kids life. http://www.teamworldvision.org/kilimanjaro”

American…”but what about all the kids in America. I am tired of us sending all our money overseas to help their kids when we don’t take care of our own.”

Me… So how much have you been giving and doing for “our kids”?

American… “well, ummm, nobody is really doing much here to work with and give to.”

Me… Oh so the answer is nothing. So what are you going to do about that? What ministry are you going to start for our precious children? What have you proactively looked for to make a difference?

It doesn’t surprise me how quickly this conversation is ended or topic is changed or said American angrily leaves.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the issue if people could honestly say they were involved or if equal opportunity was given that they would act upon it. The problem I have is to say “what about ours” like we somehow care and then continue to do nothing.

However, this is a deeper spiritual Issue for me.

God is not an American! I know that is a shock to some.

God’s heart is for the poor and broken, enslaved and marginalized. God’s heart is for hurting people. These folks are in every country. It is sad how geography makes us identify with a broken person differently.

If we took 100 different kids from 100 different countries, none of them personally known by you. How would you decide which one to help? What criteria would you use? Do you help the American? Which one is the American… The white one? Nobody knows. They all have the same need and they all can be helped the same way. And you have the means… How do you choose?

For us to think a hurting American is somehow more special and more deserving of my help is spiritually sickening to me.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I AM NOT SAYING WE SHOULD NOT HELP AMERICAN CHILDREN! But an American child is no more valuable to God than a Thai, African, chinese … child.  And simply because they live in America doesn’t mean you know them and have a personal relationship or connection to that child any more than the child you don’t know anywhere else in the world.

Does geography matter to God when it comes to helping his hurting children? If not why does it matter so much to us.

I think God simply wants his children to HELP His hurting children!

So if you are doing nothing for the children in America… Please stop using them as an excuse to do nothing for children in Tanzania. And if you are “spending yourself on behalf of the poor” (Isaiah 58) in America, then I thank God for you! Keep up the great work!

It is interesting to note that many of the people who are actively involved here are also actively involved overseas… I think it is because they see the world the way God does… Without borders!

How do you see the world?

If you would like to change a child’s life forever you can do that for $35.00 per month. Click on the link below and sponsor a child.  A team of 10 of us are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in a couple months with a desire to change 500 children’s lives. I have a personal goal of sponsoring 100 children.  I am half way there.  Please put my name (Darrell MacLearn) in the “Athlete name” when you sponsor a child and then treat that child like you adopted him/her.  It will change their life as well as your own.

http://www.teamworldvision.org/Kilimanjaro

WHAT CAN I DO?

What can I do? This is a question I am regularly asked when I teach about human trafficking and poverty in our world? What I am discovering is, many who say this really don’t want the answer?

The issues touch the heart of emotion but often times go no further than feelings of anger or sorrow for those involved.  People with these feeling will say, “I want to get involved and make a difference but what can I do?” it amazes me how many of these folks take no action beyond that conversation.  Even when given simple practical things that could make a real tangible difference.

I wonder what the sticking point is?

Would the response be different if they woke up and discovered that it was their child who had just been trafficked and was being raped 15 -20 times per night? Would their action and response be different if it was their child who faced daily poverty and vulnerability?

It is my bet, and personal experience, that action is often attached to proximity of pain.  We tend to change everything when the reality hits home.  Finances seem to no longer be an excuse, time no longer stands in our way, fear of speaking out no longer chokes us up, when it is our daughter.

Often times now when people ask me what they can do to make a difference my answer is simply, “if it was your daughter what would you want someone else to do? Do that.”

If your daughter was vulnerable would you want someone to give to reduce the vulnerability…  Then Give

If it was your son or daughter and you knew that 35 dollars a month would reduce your child’s vulnerability, provide him/her with an education, provide him/her with clean water and medicines, would you pray for someone to do that…

Someone is praying that prayer!  Will you do for one of these kids what you would want someone else to do if it were your son or daughter.

For $35 per month you can do just that. www.teamworldvision.org/Kilimanjaro

Please don’t ask, “what can I do and then do nothing.” and if it is not this find something and make a difference in your world.