The Cost of $20

When I got strep throat, I began to fear my $25 copay multiplying if the kids got sick, too.  And that was the extent of my worry.  Last Friday I wanted to post another “Focus on it Friday” saying how thankful I was for the quality healthcare that my family can receive, but really my thanks goes beyond that.

When someone in my family gets sick, my mind rarely goes past getting a doctor’s appointment and the necessary medicine, but for moms around the world, sickness carries more terrifying consequences.  According to a UNICEF press release, 24,000 children under the age of five die every single day from mostly preventable causes. I can’t even wrap my mind around that number.

Frankly, the number is too big, and sometimes big numbers have little effect on me.  Then I read a post the other day  by Billy Coffey with a smaller number: 20.  For $20, I could give one person clean water for 20 years through the organization charitywater.org.  Until recently, I had not really understood that there were people who lived in areas where clean water simply was not available and, as a result, were dying.  My church began a project to build wells in Mozambique, and for the first time, my mind allowed this need around the world to enter in.  But when I read this post, again, I was floored.

I don’t throw money around.  I take my family’s budget seriously, and I rarely buy anything on a whim.  Matt and I are trying to act responsibly, so $20 is not an amount of money that I would take for granted.  Yet, even on a tight budget, I know that $20 is not a lot of money, especially when someone’s life is at stake.

I wrote in a previous post that my mind was in overdrive, that I felt God really working on my heart, and truthfully, I feel a little confused right now.  So many ideas are rolling around in my head, and I don’t know where to start, and on some things, I don’t even know what to think.  But I do know that God has taken my heart and is showing me the tragedies that break His.

This week a group of bloggers traveled to Guatemala with one of my favorite organizations, Compassion International.  They will visit the child development programs set up by Compassion and share about the children whom they meet, children who live in poverty that we cannot imagine.  Yet through the good works of Compassion and sponsorship, these children will receive medical care, basic needs, an education–things I take for granted.   One of these precious children can be sponsored for $38 a month.

Compassion Bloggers: Guatemala 2010

I went to Target today, and I spent a little over $20 on socks for the kids and a file box in an attempt at organizing the influx of artwork that comes in now that preschool has started.  My kids genuinely needed new socks as their little feet have grown bigger, yet as I handed over the $20, I thought about a child without water, a much greater need.  And as I took a shower tonight and felt the warm water roll off my body, I watched as the drops I wasted ran down the drain.  As much as I want to, I can’t fathom a need this great.

My goal is not to cause myself massive guilt every time I make a purchase; however, I think feeling a little uncomfortable now and then is probably a good thing.  It’s a good thing to evaluate how I’m spending my 20’s–how many children could I sponsor or individuals could I give clean water for the cost of the cable TV, iphone, or restaurant meals I purchase?  After all, when I die I can’t take any of my earthly treasures with me to heaven for eternity, so shouldn’t I want to relieve a child who is living a hell on earth now?

While I don’t believe that God has called Christians to live a life of poverty for the sake of others, I know He would have us think about the money that we have and how we are using it.  If you are like me, you might feel overwhelmed with the different problems in this world and not know where to begin.  Perhaps, you are already giving to an organization that you love.  Maybe you’d love to give but can only give to one cause at a time and need to wait until next month.  I’m not asking you to give.  I’m asking you to think.

I’m sharing my journey as I think about these issues and opportunities, deciding where to act in the hopes that some of you will take this journey with me.  We can’t all give to everything, but some of us can give to some things.  Perhaps some of us can find $20 to provide clean water for one person.  Maybe others will want to sponsor and build a relationship with a child living in poverty.  We all have different journeys, and we can’t change the whole world alone.  But we can all think.  And maybe today some of us will decide to change the life of one.

Please visit my sidebar, and visit the different links for my favorite posts on the web.  Each of the links featured show a different way you can help change the life of an individual in need.

15 thoughts on “The Cost of $20

  1. Okay so I'm going to be brutally honest here and say that I almost didn't finish reading this post b/c I really struggle with the massive, incomprehensible needs of others around the world…it's too much to bare. So I've tended to put my head in the sand, I am not proud of this fact.

    But $20 in exchange for 20 years of clean water??? THIS, I can wrap my brain around and do.

    Thank you for this post .

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    1. And I'll be honest–I almost didn't finish this post. I had a hard time writing this one, but I felt the need to. I didn't want to sound like I was asking for money because that really wasn't my intention so much as to highlight my own journey thinking about money. And I thought that if sharing my thoughts and these charities' work prompted some to give, what an added bonus!

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  2. This is just fantastic, Jennifer. These days twenty dollars means a little more than it used to, but even more so to the billions who go without every day. "We can’t all give to everything, but some of us can give to some things." That's it. Exactly.

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  3. Jennifer, I agree completely with every word and by posting this you may have saved lives. One of my favorite quotes is: "No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a litle." Edmund Burke

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  4. This is a great post! I am reminded of the story of the man who threw starfish back into the ocean. We can't save the world, but we can change the world for one person. It does make a difference!M

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  5. Jai and I sponsor a girl from Thailand through World Vision…in fact, we're almost done because I think she's getting close to 18 years old. I'm going to miss her letters so much!!

    And speaking of health care, I'm glad your family doesn't have to worry about receiving good care. It's easy to take things like that for granted. I think a lot of Canadians do with the universal health care. I try to say an extra prayer of thanks every single time I go to the doctor or hospital and the bill is zero.

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    1. That's wonderful that you are sponsoring a child! You'll have to sponsor another when your current girl turns 18. I don't know a lot about World Vision because we use Compassion, but I know both organizations are helping children in terrible need. And yes, while my doctor's bills have never been zero, I realized how blessed I was to have insurance after my last two babies were born. I had complications, but once we met our deductible, the insurance took care of everything else…including an appendectomy later in the year! Thank the Lord!

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      1. We'll probably get another girl from the same area – Thailand, when she is 18. I feel really strongly about keeping young girls out of the sex-trade there.

        Yikes, an appendectomy in the same year!

        Our Universal health care covers almost everything, except for the cost of staying the night in the hospital, weird isn't it? So, we have extra coverage through Jai's work. It covers SOO much (like pre natal massage, eye glasses, dentist, orthopedic shoes) but guess what it doesn't cover? Staying in the hospital! Well, if that's all we have to pay, then I guess we're doing ok!

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  6. This blog seems to recieve a large ammount of visitors. How do you get traffic to it? This gives a good person distort upon things. I suppose having something genuine or considerable to provide information on is an essential factor.

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