My West Coast Tour "Speech"
Below is a speech I prepared for the tour. It's more or less the "gist" of what I want to say, but I have yet to say it all at once. It's more or less a reference and my full heart behind what we are doing.
I'm better with Q&A.
My name is Lindsay and I am one of the 11 girls from the Act Here. Love Now. tour. If you have not seen our book, you can go to our table in the back after we are done here, take a look and buy one. We are also selling coffee, pins and t-shirts. A portion of the book proceeds will go to a ministry within your city.
I want to give you a brief background of how these girls from four countries ended up together. Sometimes I wonder.
We are all a part of photogenX – an organization under Youth With A Mission that uses photography and the arts to bring awareness to and encourage people to action on injustices around the world. We came together in September of 2009 because we shared a love for photography, humanity and justice.
We traveled to 36 countries in a year and a half befriending and documenting the lives of people we met. It was beautiful and difficult and emotional and epic all at once. We learned to love the world as we daily made efforts to love each other.
It was tough.
Imagine, 11 girls sharing one bathroom. Now imagine those same 11 girls being your roommates, classmates, and friends. All day every day.
We learned about conflict/resolution and how community should and should not look. It was community at it’s finest. And sometimes worst.
Ok, I know that was very brief. If you want more details, find any of us after our talk and we’d be happy to share more with you.
So, before I continue, I want to invite three of my teammates up. They each want to share a story from their travels that impacted them. Listen closely because these stories can help you to understand that the place to Act is Here. and the time to Love is Now.
Thank you _____, _____, and _____ for sharing your stories of your friends.
Anyone ever heard of Charles Sykes? S-Y-K-E-S. Anyone, Buler? Yeah, me either. But he is an author and I love this quote by him, “Television is not real life. In real life, people have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.”
I love this quote because I believe it captures the essence of our society. But, I also hate this quote because it captures the essence of our society.
We are a society with information at our fingertips. With the click of a button we can know the number of people living in extreme poverty or the number of displaced people from the most recent natural disaster or war.
Unfortunately, we have been content sitting in our comfy coffee shop couches or small groups talking about injustice, talking about advocacy, talking about the world’s problems. We romanticize the purpose of our lives and spend more time dreaming about the future then living in reality.
We repeat and regurgitate the facts we hear to make ourselves look smart or aware of global news. It’s as if it’s cool to just know and talk about the problems.
But what’s the point of filling our brains with knowledge if we’re not doing anything with it?
I want to share a scripture with you that was close to my heart at the beginning of our trip and continues to be one I look to often. It’s Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
To act justly means you live in ways that promote justice and confronts oppression.
To love mercy means to show compassion to someone less fortunate.
To walk humbly means to live free from arrogance and judgementalism.
We are called to believe, to go, to feed, to clothe, to give, etc. All of which are action verbs.
Who knows what an action verb is? You, what is your name? Ok, __________ What is an action verb? Right, A word that conveys action!
So following Jesus doesn’t just mean being saved from hell or a particular belief system, it means taking action, doing what Jesus said and did.
God’s story is made up of four key elements: creation, fall, redemption and restoration. The gospel message is good at recounting the fall and redemption but often forgets about creation and restoration. Christ’s death and resurrection were not only meant to save people from something, but to save people to something. His ultimate plan is full restoration. The new kingdom. And He wants and needs our help.
Let me ask you all a question. How many of you desire our world to be at peace? To see nations reconcile with each other?
You can raise your hands. Right, most people want that. And that is great. We should want that.
But, I wonder how many of us will walk out of this meeting talking to our friends about Johnny or Susi’s issue. We tend to gossip and maybe mask it by saying, we need to pray for… You fill in the blank.
We talk about wanting peace and reconciliation in the world, but we don’t have it among our community or family.
I want to tell you a story from my life. Growing up, my mom was best friends with my dad’s sister. They’d always be together and always shared their life. Until something happened. Now I was too young to really understand, all I knew was that we didn’t talk as much and we saw her even less.
It wasn’t until December of 2008 that I felt the Lord tell me 2009 would be a year of reconciliation within my family. For my birthday, I invited myself to San Diego to visit my aunt and uncle. I hadn’t talked with them much in the past, but they were nice enough to say yes.
So I came and my time was amazing. They saw me as older and more mature and I saw them as caring and kind. And we connected.
When I came home I told my parents they should call and thank my aunt and uncle for being so good to me. They did and that opened a small door. Then in September, I found a great deal for a round trip ticket to San Diego. I asked my mom if she would go with me and she said yes.
We spent a wonderful week with my aunt and uncle. They not only showed us a great time but my aunt and mom talked. I mean they really talked. Talked about their issues, talked where they had been hurt. They might not have seen eye to eye, but they talked and once they did they were friends again. Good friends.
Last summer, both my mom and dad flew to San Diego to visit my aunt and uncle. They are planning another trip in a few months. Everyone is talking and loving and caring for each other once again.
I tell you this story because we can’t expect to see reconciliation happen on a large scale if it is not happening between family members or our community or with authority.
We want to see extreme poverty end. But how many of us are actually doing something about poverty [both physical and material] here, at home.
There are around ______________ homeless people in _____________________.
There are around ______________ people who are depressed in __________________.
It’s time we feed those ___________ people who go to bed hungry in our own city and listen to their story.
It’s time to deeply care for those within our community who struggle with depression or feel like outcasts.
Reconciliation and poverty are just two areas we can Act Here. and Love Now. There are so many more. And our book is filled with practical steps to do just that.
My friends are moving to Albuquerque this summer. Instead of waiting for their neighbors to introduce themselves, they plan to host a block bbq to let everyone know their home to open to their neighbors.
I have another friend who wants to create a group from within his neighborhood that will be available to help anyone within their community with needs they may have.
We cannot expect to GO and help the rest of the world if we can’t do it here, in our own backyards. But if we can truly learn to Act Here. and Love Now., we will not only begin to impact our neighborhoods, we will transform our city. And if we transform our city we will change the world.
Now is the time to put action to our concerns. Legs to our talk. Wheels to our words. OK you get the idea.
I wanted to give you an idea of how I am working to Act Here. Love Now. and how I hope to further apply it into my life.
Last September, while I was still traveling, I hosted a blogathon to support Blood:Water Mission. This organization creatively and thoughtfully raises awareness and the necessary funds for the provision of clean blood and clean water in Africa. For each comment I received on my blog post I donated $1.
I have a dream to start an art center for kids and youth who are overlooked. I believe art transcends language and has the ability to unite and bring peace. I have faith that through this art center a community, a neighborhood and a city will see the peace, harmony, beauty and presence of God prevail.
Use your creativity and talents to encourage, bless and bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
How many of you are skateboarders?
Raise your hand. Ok. Keep them up.
How many of you are painters?
How many of you play an instrument?
Who here is really smart?
Or good with computers?
Look around. See all these hands raised? With the creativity and gifts here, you could transform ____________ with simple acts of genuine love.
Who here is ready to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with their God? To Act Here. and Love Now.?
Awesome, Let's go!