We tried something new and exciting in the Ronne house tonight (“we” means mom had a light bulb moment, and she decided that the family needed to be a part of it).
I recently read some staggering statistics in the book Jesus Wants to Save Christians written by Rob Bell. Regardless of your opinion on this highly controversial author, the information he presents is not only eye opening but extremely convicting as a Christian and as an American citizen. He explores this idea of America being a 21st century empire displayed in our lavish extravagances and then contrasts the American empire with Biblical empires such as Egypt, Babylon, and Rome. He explains historically God’s lack of enthusiasm towards these mega powers and how they ruled and reacted to those they conquered. The book ultimately leads into comparing our American lifestyle with the majority of lifestyles around the world including some statistics such as:
1. America controls 20% of the world’s wealth.
2. One billion people in the world do not have access to clean water.
3. Every 7 seconds a child under the age of 5 dies from hunger
4. 158 million children have to go to work every day just to survive.
5. Nearly one billion people live on less than one American dollar a day.
Yikes… makes my biggest dilemma of the day (brownies or cookies for dessert?) seem like overindulgent, spoil rotten, cow dung.
I learned an immense amount from this book about how our present world can take the lessons of the past and apply them to our modern day situations. A principal of being and showing Jesus to a desperate world by FIRST feeding people’s bellies, cleaning their water, providing them with basic resources and then presenting them with the saving knowledge of Christ because it’s difficult to think clearly about any major decision, especially a life and death sort of decision, if you haven’t eaten in three days.
I was also deeply convicted about the fact that we, the Ronne family, seem to have SO much, surrounded by blessings of every kind, never having to feel want or the despair of hunger pains for days on end. I prayed, asking God, “How can the 9 of us make a difference? Are we called to be hungry just because others in the world are hungry? How can I relate to my children this idea that we aren’t owed something just because we were fortunate enough to be born into the most prosperous nation in the world but instead we OWE the world because we have been so richly blessed. Lord, what should I do?”
Something I had once seen or read somewhere came to mind. If I had any idea where I saw it, I would give credit where credit is due, but I have not a clue. The premise went like this; a family sacrificed one meal a week and substituted it instead with beans and rice, the main staples of the poverty stricken nations around the world; beans and rice, which are rejoiced over as a blessing in many parts of the world. This family ate this unexciting, inexpensive meal and then donated the amount of money it would have cost to have a regular meal to an organization which could supply food to the poorest countries of the world, a symbol of acknowledging others pain and hardship around the world, a “do this in remembrance of me” moment and by doing this in remembrance of Christ they prostrated themselves in a Christ like attitude by thinking of others before themselves.
By the time I fell asleep the idea had begun to take shape in my mind, ready to change the Ronne clan’s attitude towards hunger around the world, and bonus, I would get the night off from cooking dinner one night a week (winner, winner, rice and beans dinner….)
The following evening I presented the idea to my older kids during our family meeting time. At first they looked at me with gaping mouths and wide eyes,
“We’re ONLY going to eat BEANS AND RICE??”
“If we eat it all, do we get dessert?”
“Uh, no dear children, that’s not the point. The point is many, many, many people around the world, like millions of people, ONLY eat beans and rice and they rejoice in the providence of this meal as it fills their aching bellies.”
“And, I continued, “We will eat this meal, and we will pray for those around the world who are starving and then after we pray we will take concrete steps as a family to do something to make a very tiny difference in this world, we are going to donate the $10-15 dollars I would normally spend to make my family a big beautiful spread.”
“Can we help pick where the money will go?”
One (a tribute to Mr. Bell)….
“Yeah, we’ll do it.”
Four smiles greeted me around the room.
My family was on board.
Do I have grand expectations that this small gesture will dramatically change their entire world view? Nope. I feel like there is still so much to be done but it is one small gesture that we can take right now, where we are, and make a teeny, tiny difference to someone and who knows where this will lead? Maybe another mother will read this and think, my family should do this and maybe she’ll tell someone who will follow suite and then maybe, just maybe, it snowballs and turns from a teeny tiny action to a bigger action, to something that will actually make a significant dent in the problem. Maybe, just maybe, we CAN make a difference.
Just keep livin!!