I want to make a difference and I bet you do, too. So when I find meaningful ways to take simple actions that make a difference, I want to share them with you.
I recently read about a young girl who wanted to make a difference and her story impressed me so much, I’ve followed up on her ministry and decided to follow her lead:
There are all sorts of ways to begin this lifestyle of reckless generosity and living with open hands. My niece Clara made a decision to be a person who shares, and she did this in a big way when she was only seven years old. Sometimes she would see people living on the streets, in need or begging for change. She wanted to do something to help. Her compassionate little mind began to ponder her options, and she came up with “Bags of Hope.” Clara made these little bags that contain the following items: a dollar, a lifesaver mint, a granola bar, and a little note telling people about the love of Jesus. She put her siblings to work assembling the bags. Clara’s dad and mom keep these in the car so that whenever they travel and see someone in need, Clara can share. Since she started this little ministry, others have asked her to provide bags for them so they can share too. What an example of getting the heart of God at a young age! Now, I keep a few Bags of Hope in my glove box and share them whenever I have a chance.
–Kevin G. Harney, Reckless Faith: Embracing a Life without Limits, page 74.
How many times have I passed a homeless person on a street corner without doing anything to help? Only God knows. Unfortunately I’ve become cynical because I’ve heard many of these people make a couple hundred dollars a day and aren’t really homeless; it’s just easy money. Occasionally, if I have food in the car, I’ll give someone an apple or whatever I have on hand. But having a few Bags of Hope in my glove box would give me something to hand out to anyone on a street corner.
What Does a Bag of Hope Contain?
Clara has her own blog for her Bags of Hope ministry. She uses a clear zip bag and places a label on the front with a Bible verse and her website. Then she includes a dollar, a Lifesaver (for symbolic reasons), a granola bar, and a brief note about Jesus. Here’s how she words her note:
Hello, Jesus Loves You!
This gift for you is from someone who wants you to be okay. They have given you this in the name of Jesus. It is because of His love that we are saved, and He inspired this gift.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.
You are special and very important to God. The person who gave you this is praying for you. Blessings!
Bags of Hope are easy to prepare and assemble. You can adapt the contents of the bag as you see fit and you can create your own message of hope to include in the bag.
I could see even filling a gallon-sized bag to accommodate other sundries: a toothbrush, comb, small bar of soap, and maybe a small New Testament or a bottle of water.
The possibilities are endless, really, but it took the faith of a child to think of how she could meet a need. What an inspiring example–and one we can all follow with a minimal investment of money and time.
A Word of Hope
I want to close with an inspiring example in the Bible. I often feel like I have nothing to give, so it’s encouraging to read about Peter and John who had no money to give, but they had something better to give than money. Sometimes just engaging with someone in need can encourage them and open doors for God to work. A word of hope goes a long way.
One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.
Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.
The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God.
Acts 3:1-8, The Message