For the past 6 weeks we have been doing a series with our students based on Rich Stearns’ book The Hole in our Gospel.  Last night was the final lesson, and I found it to be very inspiring. 

Last night’s lesson featured the story about the founder of Hoops of Hope.  His initial idea was to shoot free throws to raise money for those orphaned by the AIDS crisis.  The first year, 2004, he raised $3,000 from donations and sponsers.  Now, thousands of people participate in a shoot-a-thon every year to raise money to build medical facilities, buy caregiver kits, and support orphans.  The event has raised over $1,000,000 in 6 years.  The coolest thing about the story?  The founder was 9 years old.  This kid isn’t even in college yet and he’s probably schooling most of us in terms of giving.  His big heart and amazing successes got me thinking.  If a 9 year old kid could start something so huge, why not us? 

I know that life can be hectic sometimes, but does that chaos get in the way of what we’re giving back?  All of us have been blessed with gifts-we are great talkers, or great friends, or talented musicians or atheletes.  Isn’t it time we start to put those talents to use (if we’re not already)?  Think about it.  If all of us gave at least one hour of our time a week to doing something we are already good at, but for the benefit of others, what a world it would be.  We could be changing lives left and right!  Since this summer many of us will have more down time, why not spend some of that time volunteering?

Or, what about all we have?  If you are a starving college student, you may be ready to skip to the next paragraph, but please hear me out.  While we may not be the richest people in the US, we are living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  We have all sorts of freedoms and opportunities, and we take them for granted sometimes.  $35 dollars a month can save a child in a foreign country.  $100 once in a while can buy livestock, which can change a family’s life.  If you are really, ridiculously poor, do you have clothes you don’t wear?  Donate them.  Do you have movies you rarely watch?  Get a Netflix account and donate them.  Hey, we all have blood-why not see if you can donate?

We all have ways we can give to others-sometimes we are held back.  There are many psychological models on behavior and why people do the things they do (or don’t).  One that stands out is the Theory of Planned Behavior.  This theory takes into consideration 3 factors that determine whether or not a person will act: Attitude, Social Norms, and Perceived Control.  What I find most interesting is that when this theory is applied to the giving of our time and resources (more specifically why people don’t give that much), it looks like we are the only ones holding us back.  We don’t give because we don’t care, or we are alone in our giving, or because we don’t know if we even can help. 

I think it’s time to stop this pattern, and gain an attitude of compassion and self-efficacy.  We can get others involved, and we can all help, since we are all talented, gifted, unique individuals.  I know that some of you already volunteer and give, and that is wonderful.  I have seen amazing things happen due to Middle School and High School students.  I have seen thousands of dollars raised, and houses built, and people reached, all by students.  We can change the world, it’s all a matter of knowing that we can and doing something about it.

Challenge: Find a way you can make some change happen this summer.  Then, tell me about it!