This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
1 John 3:16–17 (MSG)
Have you ever been watching the news, listening to the radio or sitting in church and heard a story about some kind of crisis or injustice going on in the world and thought to yourself: “Somebody should do something”?
Have you ever considered the source of that thought? Where did that thought come from? Do you think that maybe … just maybe … that thought could have come from God? And maybe He’s wanting you to be the somebody who does something?
Nancy Zirkel and her husband, Doug, first learned about the AIDS pandemic when Princess Zulu came to speak at their church. Princess Zulu grew up in Zambia and lost her baby sister to AIDS … then her mother … then her father. At the age of 14, she dropped out of school and got pregnant. When she was 17, Princess married her boyfriend, a man 25 years older than her who had already lost two wives to AIDS. Now, at 28 years old, she is HIV positive. Although she knows that she will one day leave behind her two daughters, Joy and Faith, Princess says that God has given her joy and hope in the midst of her devastating circumstances. Because of her desire to do whatever she can to help others infected with HIV, Princess now travels around the world telling people about the AIDS crisis in Africa and urging them to do something to fight its spread.
When Doug and Nancy heard Princess Zulu speak about the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, they were blown away by the fact that the greatest humanitarian crisis in history was happening right now and they didn’t know anything about it. They thought to themselves: “We’ve got to do something! We’ve got to help. And if we didn’t know anything about it, most of the people we know—our family and friends—probably don’t know anything about it either. And if they knew, they’d certainly want to do something.”
So the Zirkels decided to raise awareness of this global crisis by throwing a party and inviting everybody they knew over to their home. They asked Princess Zulu to come explain to 50 of their friends and family about what was happening in Africa because of AIDS and then ask them to help by sponsoring children. Speaking about that night, Nancy says: “Doug and I planned to ask everyone at the end of the night to help by sponsoring a child in Africa through World Vision. But we also wanted to make sure people continued to respond after the night was over. We thought it would be a great idea to ask everyone if they’d like to throw a party of their own for their friends and family. I was the one elected to get up in front of all my family and friends and speak, and I was nervous about it. At the last minute, I started to chicken out and told my husband ‘I can’t do it! You go ahead and do it!’ And Doug, being the wonderful, supportive and encouraging husband that he is, simply said, ‘You can do it. I know you can do it. Now go.’ And he just kind of gave me the little push that I really needed. As I walked up there, I threw up a quick, ‘Please help me, Lord. Give me the courage, and put the right words in my mouth.’ Then I got up there and did it. I asked everyone if they would be interested in having a party. I told them, “If two or three of you guys have parties, and two or three of your friends have parties, this could grow and multiply. And who knows how many kids could be sponsored and how many lives could be saved!’”
Because of that night, new doors started opening for the Zirkels and wonderful things began to happen. World Vision approached them about taking their idea of throwing house parties and turning it into a national program to promote in churches across the United States. Nancy was also asked to speak to a group of children from kindergarten through fifth grade about how they could get involved in helping kids infected with AIDS in Africa. Knowing that many children feel like they can’t really do anything significant because they’re young and nobody pays attention to them, Nancy wanted them to fully understand that the opposite of that is true. So she talked to them about how the apostle Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone treat you as if you’re unimportant because you’re young.” Nancy then gave each of the kids a little coin bank to fill up with change. Within a few weeks, the children had raised over $15,000! Recalling that moment, Nancy says, “It was amazing! These kids came in with their banks filled to the brim. We had them dump their coins into buckets. They brought in so much change, the handles even broke on some of the buckets because they were so heavy! But these kids kept bringing in money with joyful hearts and compassionate spirits … it was just beautiful to witness.”
For Nancy and Doug, the act of “going” simply began by inviting friends and family members over to their home. When God placed a burden on their hearts, they didn’t sit back passively and say, “Somebody should do something.” No, they chose to act on it. And their willingness to trust and obey God’s leading bore fruit in ways they could have never imagined. Their simple act of obedience sparked a ripple effect that is continuing to impact the lives of countless others.
Maybe the thought of going out and doing something that God is leading you to do seems daunting. You may not even know where to begin. That’s OK. You don’t have to do something huge or complex. Simply ask God to show you how you can obey His leading. Then act on it, and trust Him to be faithful to do the rest.
Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; Every journey is just a step because without that step there will be no journey; Without that raindrop there can be no shower; Without that seed there can be no harvest.