Friday, April 9, 2010

Deep Thougthts: A Heart to Give

Editor's Note: This devotion previously appeared in the July/August 2003 issue of Devo'Zine. Copyright © 2003 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved.

A Heart To Give
By Kaylea M. Hutson

Every summer since she turned thirteen, Stephanie has worked with Teen Missions International, a youth mission organization.

For many teens, summer vacation is a chance to hang out with friends or to earn extra money at a job. But for 18-year-old Stephanie McCullah, the lazy days of summer are a chance to change the world.

Every summer since she turned thirteen, Stephanie has worked with Teen Missions International, a youth mission organization. In places such as Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, Russia, Kenya, Israel, and Ethiopia, Stephanie has helped to construct schools, churches, and sidewalks.

How It Began
Stephanie’s interest in missions began when her father bought her a subscription to Brio, the teen magazine for girls published by Focus on the Family.

“I wanted to read Seventeen, and they got me a subscription to Brio,” Stephanie says with a smile. “Finally, my step-mom slipped it under my bedroom door; and I flipped through it.”

Inside the magazine, she found an article about Teen Missions International that “made a huge difference” in her life. Reading the article led to her first overseas mission trip.

“Honestly, I’m not a saint,” explains Stephanie. “It’s really been God. There’s no other way to explain it.”

“I saw a lot of things that I could never imagine. Honduras was hard because I saw kids playing with broken kitchen utensils. Here I was, thirteen, and I had the newest video games at home.”

“I’ve learned to be happy with what I’ve got, even if it’s not a lot.”

Why Missions?
“I love the feeling of being out there helping people who need help,” Stephanie says. “Christianity is really an awesome thing in the here and now. God has so much power, and it is so liberating; and I find it amazing. I love to see the people and their reactions [to Christianity].”

Stephanie says that her trips overseas have helped shape her understanding of faith and life.

“I’ve learned more about what is important in life,” Stephanie says. “Money isn’t the most important thing.”

Missions at Home
Not ready to jump into an overseas trip? You can do a lot to help others in your hometown. Community organizations always need help answering the phones and stuffing envelopes. Thrift shops and food pantries use volunteers to sort donations. Just remember: The key is to serve without expecting payment in return.

“I’ve learned that the more you give, the more you get back -- without exception,” Stephanie says. “It seems like the more you give of yourself, the more God puts into your heart to give.”

Here are some other things you can do to help people in your community and around the world:

• Give. “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9, NRSV).

• Care about justice. “The righteous know the rights of the poor” (Proverbs 29:7a, NRSV).

• Speak up. “Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9, NRSV).

• Pray. “God has heard your prayers and knows about your gifts to the poor” (Acts 10:4b, CEV).

• Defend those in need. “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute” (Psalm 82:3, NRSV).

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