Why do people go overseas to help people in need? Why not just send money? This is a question that is asked all too often. It’s also often coupled with the question, “Why don’t you just help people here (locally)?”
First of all, do not be dismayed at any criticism you might receive for wanting to help overseas. Most people who are involved anywhere (either locally or internationally) tend to be both supportive and understanding of people who are doing work anywhere. And my quick answer to the last question is, “Well, why can’t we do both?”
There’s no question that there are people in the United States who need help ascending from the lower class to enter into the middle class; but, the fact remains, our lower class is truly rich compared to people in many countries, and Myanmar especially. There is really no comparison. But back to the question, why not just send money—the answers were life-altering for me.
We bring people hope! I know this sounds like a cliché, but it’s so much more significant than we could ever realize. Amos, who was one of the first orphans raised at the main orphanage where we serve, that is led by an incredible native pastor, now has his own small orphanage that he runs with his wife. It is the orphanage that is most on my heart out of all the need that I see there from the many orphanages we visited.
He told me during a conversation we had one night that “watching us play with the orphans gave [him] hope.” He was very real with us in regards to the difficulties of caring for the kids, and he reiterated that watching us play with the kids out of our love for them was revitalizing and gave him a renewed hope. That was the most incredible thing that I could have ever heard. After all, he is the person who was there before we arrived and would stay after we left.
Money Without Love
Imagine having your parents only give you money and never actually be there for you. How would you feel? How much stronger would you be if you had experienced the love and hope that comes from your parents actually showing up and demonstrating love through their physical presence—the warmth of their hugs, and the caring in their eyes. Hope allows people to press on, even in the most dire of situations. And there’s more.
What is money without love? I would say it is worthless, but I also question whether it even exists. It takes love, either from the person giving or the person asking for donations, to get people to donate. It takes a person who loves people who are in need to communicate and to get people to rally behind the need. For me, this required showing up in order to first love these children to the point that I would take up their cause.
Let’s face it; we’re desensitized to commercials on TV asking for donations and the need that people have in this world. We forget that the kids in need are real children, with real hearts, who have real pain. It doesn’t matter how much my mentor talked about the needs these kids have; even through all his tears and after everything he communicated, there was no way I could possibly understand how precious these orphans are and the extent of what their needs are without actually going myself.
To further emphasize this reality, I did not initially have a super compelling reason to go. I did not feel ”called” by God to go. I just rested on what the Bible says, knowing that no matter what I feel, I am called to go. We all are. We’re called to go and serve both here and there. My calling came only after I was obedient to God’s word.
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16,17
Not only are we able to bring love, our physical presence and hope to such precious orphans and their incredible leaders, not only are we able to bring financial support and supplies, but we’re able to come back and take up their cause! Only after having been there and seeing the need of kids whom I now care for with all my heart, am I willing to come back and devote many hours of my life to their cause.
Through my change of heart, my friends and family are also able to hear about who they are, and why they are so special. After hearing my story, people have offered to get involved. My hope is that eventually a few people are able to go as well, to experience what I did, return and continue to take up their cause as well so that more people who are unaware will no longer be in the dark.