19,000 children die every day from preventable causes.

Nineteen thousand. I would tell you to take a minute to let this number sink in, but I don’t think it really can. This is an incomprehensible number to me. So, lets talk about the light that drives out all darkness. Darkness in the form of 19,000 children dying every day, women being sold into sex slavery, and people living without clean drinking water.

Truthfully, friends, I wrote that last sentence and sat in my room and cried. I am one person. You are one person. How on earth can we help? Thankfully, the Bible tells us how.

These facts need to be brought out of the darkness and into the light and, in my opinion, talked about more often. We, as Christ followers, have been given a mission. My “calling” isn’t to be in TZ. My calling is to be the light of Jesus wherever I am and Jesus has placed me in TZ. All of us are “called” to the same thing – to be the light of Jesus and to care for the poor. We have all been called to the same fight.

In my 20 years of reading the Bible, it is clear to me Jesus made a pretty big deal about loving people.

“I (John) ask that we love one another. And this love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 5-6

I took a trip to Zanzibar, TZ with my mom and friends from Germany this week. It was such a refreshing time away to really relax and not worry about work. I loved every sweaty minute of it. Really – Zanzibar is super hot. I tan easily, but I burnt like none other while in Zanzibar. Stupidly, I forgot that I had started taking malaria meds again which make me sensitive to the sun. Needless to say, my butt cheeks now look like a candy cane – white and red striped. Anyways, as I was pondering why I burnt so badly, I started thinking about all of the different places on this lovely earth where the sun has graced my white skin with its rays and that in every place it’s the same sun. But, the sun goes down and the darkness takes over and it can hide oh so much.

Because of the flight pattern from Arusha to Amsterdam, there is a stop over in Dar es Salaam where those going on to Amsterdam stay on the plane while its being cleaned and restocked. Some people get off the plane if their destination was Dar and others get on the plane who are heading to Amsterdam. So, I’ve had my fair share of time sitting on the tarmac at the Dar es Salaam airport. However, I’ve never sat next to the window to see the city lights. Flying out of Zanzibar, I had a stop over flight in…you guessed it, Dar. This time I got to see the city lights. I knew Dar was a big city, but it was a lot bigger and brighter than I thought it would be.

From the airplane, it looked like any other western city. There are buildings that look like western homes and streets with cars driving on them like anywhere else. Here’s the thing, I’ve lived in TZ for almost a year and I know what these city streets really look like. It reminded me of just how much the darkness can hide.

The darkness hides homes built out of mud. Dirty drinking water. Malnourishment. AIDS. Lost souls.

Jesus drives out all darkness. He is the perfect light. We are made in His image to reflect His light and to fight the dark things of this world. When we focus on the main mission Jesus left for us, the Church, to do (love people), by default alone, we will help expose these dark areas.

My wonderful friend, Ashley, who’s a long term volunteer at Neema rescued two little puppies awhile back. She found a nearby family to keep the dogs and she goes over every day to feed them and hang out with the children who live in the area. I love this. She is such a bright light in their daily lives because lets be real, candy is everyone’s love language and she always has some to pass out. Once Ashley noticed a neighborhood girl who looked very sick. So, she took the young girl to the hospital, paid for doctor visit, and got the needed medications for her. The young girl had been suffering from malaria; one of the world’s leading causes of death. For that day, we can reduce the number from 19,000 to 18,999 children who died because Ashley was being the light. First she loved her neighbor and because she did that so well, she fought darkness – malaria – and Jesus smiled.

“So let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise our father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Now, I know that we don’t all live in malaria-ridden countries, but we should always be able to find a path for our light to shine no matter where we live. Find a trusted organization that cares for the poorest of the poor and give your money. It’s what the Bible tells us to do.

James might be my favorite book of the Bible. I often feel like I’m getting slapped in the face when I read the words James wrote.

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Not religion that prays, sings, looks, acts the “right” way, but religion that loves.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deed? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14 – 17

Our love for God should compel us to love people well. If our light is really shining, it will produce good deeds. Our faith won’t matter if we don’t tend to the needs of the poor. Our deeds amount to nothing if they aren’t driving out the darkness.

To recap what I’ve just rambled on about, we are called to be a light. To be the light, you need to love Jesus and people. When you love people, you care for their needs and that pushes out the darkness and you reflect Jesus. I have a friend who puts it this way, “Love leads love.”

Go love.