So this is what happens when you chat with a door to door magazine salesman…

Last summer, a young man stopped by our house, hoping to sell a few magazine subscriptions. I had a feeling in my gut that I needed to open the door and chat with him. After giving me his salesperson script, I started asking him questions. He told me how he was pulled off the streets and is part of a program to teach business skills and to make money legally. He told me about his mother and the trouble he used to cause. He told me about his girlfriend and their newborn baby, complete with photos from his phone.

And then he stopped and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you being so nice to me? Why are you talking to me? Everyone else in your town has slammed the door in my face.” And without even thinking, I said “Because God created each of us and loves us all equally. And I think you are doing an amazing thing to turn your life around.”

This led to a 20 minute talk about our faiths. Here we were, on my front steps, talking about Jesus as our savior and the power of prayer. It was the most intimate conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger. As we wrapped up (this is to say that the video I put on for my boys was over), I looked at his list of magazines and chose Christianity Today as a means to commemorate this experience. And every time it arrives at my door, I think of him.

So it was all thanks to my stranger friend that I read the following article, which was the entire reason I wanted to start this blog. Bruce Wydick, development economist, wrote Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor. He (by polling other development economists) created a means for ranking the work and impact of different non-profits (faith-based and secular). In his words,

Today, thanks to economic globalization and the Internet, those who want to care for the poor overseas enjoy a plethora of attractive options: sponsoring a child, donating a farm animal, making a small loan to a budding entrepreneur, installing a well in a village, getting a morning caffeine jolt with fair-trade (instead of free-trade) coffee—among others.

But what are the best ways to help those living in developing countries By “best,” I mean most effective: things that actually help people rise out of poverty, and that carry with them a sizable “bang for your buck”—programs in which the impact on the poor is significant per donated dollar.

One reason this struck me was because there are so many people in need and each of us has different amounts of money to give. In the end, give to which need sits in your heart. I look forward to highlighting many of these organizations on Give Today.

Why give? James 2: 14-17 tells us,

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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