If someone were to sit down and contemplate the state of the world right now, it would be easy to find sadness, unfairness, and inexplicably awful things that can’t fully be comprehended. We have mass poverty, pandemic diseases, social injustice, gender inequality and political oppression, just to name a few ills. Then on top of that, we have the random acts of nature, like the 2009 earthquakes and floods of Southeast Asia and the Pacific that have killed and displaced many, and wars where leaders view “the means to an end” as violence and death until one side loses or submits due to the casualties sustained. Then there is the overwhelming disparity between the rich and the poor; the difference between those who “have” and those who “have not” is greater than ever and continues to grow. I contemplate these things often, and many times I have to tell myself not to feel guilty about living the life I have been blessed with. Even now as I’m writing this, I’m swallowing down a sandwich and I somehow feel guilty that I have this and someone else doesn’t. It’s not a productive way to live.
But what is a better way to see the world? Borrowing the words of World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns, “The pessimist sees only obstacles; the optimist sees only opportunities. But it’s the realist who sees the possibilities between the two.” That’s who we, as Christ’s followers, have to be: People of Possibility. Remembering the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus calls us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” and to go and be like the Samaritan man who helps a stranger in need. When we see something inhumane, our own humanity has to be questioned. Not only because we should see ourselves and Jesus in one another, but also because we have to evaluate how we act towards one another. To see something and not do anything, is that not also inhumane?
We are quick to think of what we can’t do. And realistically speaking, the list is long. But in the same realistic spirit, we have to ask ourselves what can we do within our own power, or even as a collective power? As Christians, 2 billion in the entire world and 77 million in America alone, what can our collective people of faith do? This is the focus of the campaign Start-> Becoming a Good Samaritan. It is harnessing the cumulative power of individual efforts in an unprecedented call to action by those at the forefront of the world’s problems.
Michael Seaton, the author and creative director of the campaign, teamed with Zondervan, The C2 Group, World Vision, and more than 50 leading voices in social change, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Sandra Thurman, Eugene Peterson and Amy Sherman, to create Start-> Becoming a Good Samaritan. It is a global campaign, but in its simplest form it is a teaching tool. In order to address the pressing global issues in our world today, the campaign has created a booklet and a corresponding DVD series that pulls together wisdom and inspiration from leaders of various causes. The booklet and DVD series are meant to be explored over a period of time. Designed for churches, small groups, and outreach organizations, the goal is to reflect over the issues, absorb the new knowledge and wisdom in thoughtful discussions, and to slowly but consciously integrate being a change agent into daily living—making faith in action a lifestyle. Through this teaching tool, the series aims to inspire and inform individuals and communities to transform their world.
Ultimately, the real value of the series lies in bringing Christian communities together to address global issues; move those impossible mountains, and become a global testament of faith.
“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, ‘if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ I used to read that verse and think that it was an exaggeration, that Jesus was just trying to make a point about the power of faith. But recently I came to view it in a different light. What if Jesus meant for millions of his followers each to put his or her faith into action by grabbing a shovel and challenging the mountain one shovelful at a time? Then any mountain would be moved, even the peaks of Poverty, Hunger, and Injustice—if we had enough people out there ‘shoveling.’”
Rich Stearns, President of World Vision US
Start ->Becoming a Good Samaritan, Foreward