Rethink Monthly: Maybe it’s a passage or something that God has been laid on your heart. Maybe it is someone who has spoken to you, or if you’ve sat through a service that may have impacted you. Or maybe it’s the message you are bringing with your book. The simple question is, “What is God causing you to rethink right now?”
Anne Jackson: The biggest thing that God is causing me to rethink is how we, the church in America, look at the church globally. The church in America has a great heart in that we care for the poor, and there are definitely churches doing really amazing things in countries that need our help, and at the same time, I think that there is so much more for our eyes to be open to.
I have had the experience in the last year of being able to travel to three third-world countries. I have been to Uganda, the Dominican Republic, and just recently to India, and the churches there don’t even have basic technology such as running water, toilets, air conditioning, or mattresses. I mean there are so many basic things that we just take for granted in our own world that they don’t have. To see how the Holy Spirit moves inside those churches without the modern technology is just incredible. I think we have a lot to learn from them, and we also have a responsibility to equip and resource them.
It talks in the New Testament that if a man has enough money to live well, then he should be generous with the poor. I also think that since all of us are in this economic struggle and we have things we are struggling with financially, comparatively to the rest of the world, we still have a lot of money too, as well. We have roofs over our heads and cars and debt, (laughing). For most of us it is not hard to figure out how we are going to eat. Definitely in America we have access to clean drinking water, so we have this wealth, and it is our responsibility to be generous to those who don’t. I think that is something God has been showing me, and challenging me in my own world, is what? Not that we should all sell our houses, go live in trailers, and not go to a drastic extreme, but He does say to use our money responsibly, if we have enough to live well. We need to seek His will for each one of us, and it will be different for each one of us. We need to be obedient to that because it’s going to require a sacrifice. I think that is what makes it obedient, is that it is sacrificial.
RM: Do you think we have reaching out to people locally, down? Do you think we need to work on that first or do you think we need to tackle both? How do we go about doing that?
AJ: I don’t think the Bible discriminates and says only go into third-world countries and resource people. Here in Tennessee, I read a really startling statistic that one out of every three children under the age of 18 do not have access to food all the time. That’s just in Tennessee, which is the south where we have big cities, and that really surprised me. I think it was one of out of six adults who don’t have access to food. They don’t know if they will always get a meal. There are definitely huge needs here, especially with the economy.
I think the church is always praying for opportunities like, “God, show us how we can share your love to the world; show us how we can share your love to the community.” Could we have asked for a better opportunity that is staring us right in the face? The church I am on staff at is located in a poor part of town, we have a lot of suburban attendance on weekends, but during the week we have so many homeless people that need assistance like money for gas or for food; everyday there is just an influx of people with these needs. You can tell by looking at some of them that they are homeless, you can tell their skin is weathered, had it rough for a while. Some of these people used to work in a hospital but they got laid off and they seriously don’t know how they are going to pay their rent. So, it is just the church looking to what opportunity God has placed in front of them. For Compassion, specifically, God has placed relationships in the Dominican and in India, and right here in Nashville. It’s just being obedient to what those things are. Some people are going to be all over the world, and some people are going to be within six blocks of their church. It is an “opening-our-eyes” thing; God where do you want me to serve, and then doing it. You know how when you go on a mission’s trip and you do something good or serve someone how you feel so good afterwards? I think that is because we are living out our purpose, because our purpose in life is to love people the way Christ loves them. Once people start doing that, they will get hooked pretty easily and that can have a huge impact on the world.
RM: So, basically, it’s learning how to love a lot?
AJ: You are absolutely right. There is a verse that says if someone has the love of Christ in them, people will be able to tell, because of their actions that have been transformed. So if you love God or serve God just on the weekends or Sundays, or you love your family or your small group, and it is all a very introverted kind of love, then it is hard to see the love of Christ in that, and not that I am judging anyone’s salvation, but if someone has been transformed by the love of Christ on the inside, then it will show on the outside. It has to be like that. Now the Bible says that, not me.
RM: When you were overseas the last time you started the compassion bloggers. Have you seen any benefits from doing that?
AJ: Oh yes definitely! I think there are a few ways personally that I am getting involved and continuing to still listen and seek the words of God. Blogging for compassion has been incredible. They have taken three trips, and I have had the opportunity to go on two of those, and I think we are nearing somewhere like 2,500 children that have been sponsored for those trips. There were over 1,000 sponsored on our last trip to India, about 1,000 for Uganda, and about 500-600 from the Dominican Church.
So that is 2,500 lives, not just the children’s lives, but their families have been changed by that, which is definitely an effective way to get anyone involved. Anyone can read a blog, but it is our job to tell a story of what we see and to pray with people to see that through God’s eyes, and their lives will be changed by sponsoring. Personally, I am truly a believer that if you are not living like you are preaching, then there is nothing solid behind your message.
My husband and I are completely evaluating how we can live on less and give more. We have decided to downsize and are moving into this little 800 sq. ft., one-bedroom cottage that our friends are renting to us for really cheap. We have paid off our credit cards, and it has taken us a while to get to this point, and we are at a point where we are giving “this much” away, and we are evaluating how we spend our money on monthly expenses, so what’s next? What else can we do? We have found that God has always provided. He has placed in our hearts this incredible dream that we don’t have to change the world, but if we can change one life, and Jesus says, “If you do this to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” He didn’t say do it to multitudes, He says if you do it to one person, you are doing it to me. I think that is very powerful, and it can be overwhelming to think that there are a million children that are going to die of malaria this year. And because it is so overwhelming, just focusing on doing on what is in front of you, and who God has placed in front of you, and those opportunities is very empowering and God will equip you to meet those needs. He wants to use us to meet those needs.
Anne Jackson is a former PK, and also has served in a variety of full time ministry roles for the last half-decade. Her blog, www.flowerdust.net, is ranked as one of the highest blogs in Christian leadership with hundreds of thousands of pageviews each month. She is an advocate for Compassion International. Anne and her husand Chris life in Nashville, TN.