I have tried twice today to update this thread and thank Amber for her post. I’ve had a long long day. The biopsy went well, the procedure was a piece of cake and now Mr. Wonderful is spoiling me so all is well. I’ll have the results in about two weeks.
Please read Amber’s post below and stop by her blog and show her some love. This woman is amazing and I don’t get to do enough to help her with Pine Ridge, I will be making another donation to Pine Ridge this year in Baby James’ name. A donation seems so small when this woman is giving her heart. Remember show her some love!
Michelle has asked me to write about the topic, “gift” and to tell a bit about why I do what I do for the children on the Pine Ridge Reservation. To be honest, sometimes I wonder why I do it too. If I had known all I was getting into when we began this, I would have run as fast as I could in the other direction. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. Not that I regret a minute of it – I don’t. I love doing what I do. Its just that I’m the least likely person to do it.
What do we do, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, we provide new backpacks filled with school supplies to the Lakota Sioux children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
It began as part of a mission trip. No, that’s not really right either. This really all began one day when I got really, really angry. You see, I had been to places like Romania to work with the hundreds of street children left behind after Communism fell. I had been to Haiti and seen poverty that is indescribable. And I had served on a board of a local Christian Counseling agency that served those who couldn’t otherwise afford professional mental health care and that relied on support of area churches. I was in a position to see all of the needs and opportunities that existed for the Body of Christ to reach out and serve those in need…. and often I came away disturbed at how little was done.
At about this same time I had a professor at MU that was murdered. That experience shook me to my core. Sherry Corbitt was an amazing Criminology professor, but more importantly, she lived out before me that saying ‘You can curse the darkness or you can light a candle”. I had become quite adept at cursing the darkness and Sherry’s untimely death made me realize that none of us is promised tomorrow and I had better get about doing what I was put on this planet to do. I called together some like-minded people and we began The Matthew 25 Project. The first year was very small. The second year I wanted to see it grow to include a trip to an to give people an opportunity to build relationships with people in need. It’s a little harder to ignore needs when those in need are your friends.
I wasn’t sure what Reservation to go to. The words “ ” kept coming to mind, but I wasn’t even sure at that time if there was a Pine Ridge Reservation. Then my mother called and told me that the little church we had attended when I was a kid in Indiana went to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year. So, there WAS a Pine Ridge Reservation after all. With that information I did something completely out of character for me – I called them and invited myself along on their trip.
After that first trip I came home and began making plans to take a group from my church there the following year. Our church’s first year there, we decided on a whim (a God kind of thing) to take backpacks filled with school supplies to the children in the village we were going to. At the time, we had no idea how important that was. We didn’t know that the Reservation was the most impoverished place in America. We didn’t know that the schools there suffer a 70% drop out rate. We didn’t know that school there fall into the bottom 10% of funding by the U.S. Dept. of Education. But once we found out, we had to keep doing it … every year. At one point we thought, “why stop at one village? … let’s just see how many kids we can give backpacks too”.
So that’s how it all began. The effort has grown each year and now includes a community-wide concert event at Voice of America in West Chester, OH called REZonate Music Fest as one of our big fundraisers. I’m still not sure how I got into the concert business or how I have ended up talking to bands, radio stations, politicians, and news media. I assure you that was no where near being on my “things I want to do before I die list”, but its where I find myself. I have no idea what I’m doing but that’s OK, God knows what He’s doing so as long as I follow Him it should be OK.
One thing I have learned along the way is that there really is more joy in giving than in receiving. The times I spend trying to make myself comfortable and happy end up being the least happy times in my life. It’s the times I’ve been able to forget myself and serve the needs of others that have I have felt the most alive and joyful.
‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40; The Message)