Sometimes a book just falls into your lap and, after reading it, you are changed forever. That happened to me this week with the book There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene.
The book follows the true story of an Ethiopian woman, Haregewoin Teferra, who finds herself caring for increasing numbers of orphaned children. She was one of the few safety nets catching children who lost their parents to AIDS. Informative chapters about the AIDS crisis in Africa are seamlessly integrated into the story, including its origins, stigma, and solutions.
The story is so compelling you will devour the book quickly. This is not a book you will read and forget. You will be a different person pre- and post-book. I plan on starting a "pass it on" book where I give it to a friend who gives it to a friend and so on. In the back of the book I am going to paste a bookplate where people can record what they plan to do in the short- and long-term after finishing the book. I would not want to meet the person who could read this book and then do nothing.
My short-term goal has already been met - we began sponsoring an Ethiopian family. (And not through a cheesy infomercial, but through a reputable agency.) While this couldn't even be called a drop in the bucket, it is still important nevertheless. I am reminded of the story about the man throwing starfish back into the ocean. His friend asks, "Why would you do this when there are thousands of starfish on the beach? It won't make a difference!" As he throws a starfish into the ocean, he answers, "It matters to this one."
I'm not certain what my long-term goal is. I have several things I am considering, but I can't decide. Perhaps I'll have to do them all. One idea was to (in the future - we couldn't do it now) adopt an orphaned child from Ethiopia. While removing a child from their country of origin is something that should only be done as a drastic measure, when no other options exist within their homeland, the AIDS crisis in Africa has produced literally millions of orphaned children. Drastic times call for drastic measures. A second idea is to involve our church in the mission and connect with an orphanage and/or medical clinic to send necessary supplies and resources.
Are there any missions that are near and dear to your heart? What are the books you have read that have literally changed your life forever? I'd love to read your thoughts.