An Actually Life-Changing Adventure You Can Afford

SELF | Chris Stewart | 6 mins

“If you died today, right now, what real impact would you have had on the world?”

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The first time I seriously asked myself that question, I’ll be honest: I came up empty. Aside from my wife and my immediate family—whose lives had I improved?

That might seem melodramatic. I did major in Theatre, so you’re welcome, I guess. But if the whole “How have I changed the world” question hasn’t been on your radar much, my advice would be to think about it.

Like, really. Set aside, I don’t know, 15 minutes, to sit down and really just think about it. Ask yourself, How have I changed the world? See what happens.

I’ll tell you what happened for me. I had to make a change. I had to do something different from the rest of my friends and family. I had to make decisions about how I spent my time, my money, my energy.

And it was 100% worth it.

For me, it started like this: My wife and I were sitting in a dark, crowded auditorium (remember those?) at church when our pastor directly challenged every single person in the sound of his voice to go to the back of the room and pick a packet off the wall. Each packet had a child’s name and photo who lived in poverty and needed a financial sponsor so they could have their basic needs met. When the time came, I leaped from my seat and strode to the back. I was looking for a packet up in a corner somewhere, a little bit in the dark—a kid most people wouldn’t see.

I found Nelson. Here’s what happened next.

Hold up! Before you go, “Oh, what a sweet video,” and stop reading—let me just say this:

I believe in a God who’s in the world-changing business. And to quote Colonel Aldo Raine from Inglorious Basterds, “Business is a-boomin’!” More than ever before in history, people who say they follow Jesus can find all kinds of opportunities to do all kinds of things that seem like changing the world. We can donate money, reshare articles (hey, like this one!), retweet “woke” influencers, help to “raise awareness” (is that still a thing?), and pat ourselves on the back—all from the bougie comfort of our air-conditioned, wifi-equipped multi-room houses.

I mean, I’m literally typing this sentence in my air-conditioned, wifi-equipped bedroom right now.

We have comfort, friends! We can spend our lives making and keeping ourselves comfortable and never be part of the world-changing business. Changing the world is rarely comfortable.

I know it’s tempting to stay where you are because I’ve been where you are. I was newly married, just landed a new job I really liked, was low-key climbing the American Dream ladder (degree, job, marriage, house, kids, etc.)—and still, I felt like I was missing something vital, something really simple.

“If you died today, right now, what real impact would you have had on the world?”

The truth was, I’d done plenty of things that had made me feel good, but I hadn’t done much good.

There are things that seem like they do real good for others, that end up really only making us feel good about ourselves. And our culture sucks at helping us tell the difference between the two.

So does the church. Many American Christian evangelicals, when it comes right down to it, are more concerned with safety and comfort than they are with doing things Jesus talked about, like, say, “laying down one’s life,” or “going the extra mile.”

You want one more? James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Generally, American Christians are super good at the second part—keeping themselves unstained from the world in little bubbles of self-righteousness—even if that same world happens to be chock-full of widows and orphans in affliction who aren’t getting visited, let alone sponsored or truly helped.

Enter Compassion International. They’re an excellent nonprofit whose mission is to “release children from poverty in Jesus’s name.” It’s a grand, bold statement—and it goes beyond economic poverty. They go so far as to improve a child’s medical, social, and spiritual status too.

I know this because I’ve seen it. (If you skipped the video at the top of this article, go back. I’ll wait.) Compassion International is LITERALLY changing the world, one sponsored kid, one under-resourced community—one orphan, one widowed single mom—at a time.

I know this because I’ve put my boots on the Nicaraguan ground, my hands in the Nicaraguan soil. But—and I cannot make this clear enough—my GO Trip to Nicaragua was more than a chance to play soccer with Nelson. It was more than a chance for me to practice broken Spanish and feel noble doing service projects in a developing nation. The truth is, it wasn’t really about me at all. It wasn’t about me getting to take pictures or exchange gifts, or climb a volcano (although, oh yeah, that did happen too).

The trip was about me realizing how big God is. How He’s been at work in the world without my awareness or participation and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. How He’s kind and loving and adventurous enough to invite me into His work.

I experienced God’s kindness by seeing water being brought to the thirsty in the desert. I felt His love in the way Nelson and his aunt—who had just met us an hour before—prayed boldly and confidently for my wife and me to make it through infertility and have a child. I was propelled by His adventurous nature to overcome my fear of people who are different from me, to see the multiracial, international movement of people following Jesus to the literal ends of the earth. I saw His image in every man, woman, boy, and girl I met.

So here it comes—you ready? I have a simple challenge. Use $40/month to change someone else’s ENTIRE life instead of using it to advance your own comfort. Join the world-changing business.

If you choose to do nothing, cool. Thanks for reading, I guess. You can click off this article now—or even worse, share it on your social media page while doing nothing tangible yourself, which is, you know, hypocrisy. (Jesus had strong words for hypocrites, but you know, whatever doesn’t burst your bubble.)

But if you choose to take a step, to make an impact on at least one other person in the world…

…Welcome to the adventure! Here’s your next step: Go to crossroads.net/compassion to get started.


Written by

Chris Stewart

Husband and dad. Storyteller and creative type. Part of Kids' Club, the birth-5th Grade ministry of Crossroads. An avid runner, reader, Hamilton fanboy, and advocate for infertility and embryo adoption.

Published on Jul 16, 2020
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  1. What strikes you most about this article? Why?

  2. Take a few minutes to do the exercise Chris models. How would you answer the opening question he asks?

  3. How do you feel about the answers you wrote? Be as honest as you can without letting shame creep in.

  4. Your life doesn’t have to be epic and impressive to matter deeply. Our life is measured by how it honors God and uses what He gave us. It’s measured by faith expressing itself through love. What stops you from taking the challenge to sponsor a kid?

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