ACT #30: BE FIRST
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27 (NLT)
At the age of 28 I had a realisation: I was the worst person I knew.
For ten years, I had built a career as a nightclub promoter in New York City. By the age of 24 my business partner and I were getting paid $2000 per month just to be seen drinking Budweiser in public and by age 28 I had a Rolex, a BMW, a grand piano and a girlfriend who was on the cover of magazines. I put myself first, yet I was spiritually, emotionally and morally bankrupt. I’d spent a decade selling decadence and escapism, and there wasn’t a single redemptive thing about it.
I began to realise my bankruptcy while on a decadent vacation to South America and began to re-explore the faith I’d been brought up with as a child. I remember sitting and reading theology while still hung over from the night before. I remember reading that ‘True religion is looking after widows and orphans in their distress’ (James1:27), and I thought: I’ve not done anything genuinely charitable in ten years. My search eventually led me to say to God: ‘OK, I’ll give you one year of service as a tithe or payback for the decade I’ve wasted.’
I volunteered to be an official photographer with Mercy Ships – the only humanitarian organisation that would take me at the time. We sailed into West Coast Africa, where I began to document the lives of people whose need I couldn’t have ever imagined before. Eventually I realised that the problems so many people faced were largely because of lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation.
Aged 30, I returned to NYC. I knew I wanted to do two things with my life: give people access to clean water, and create a charity that people could believe in – that they could see the results of. And so, charity: water was born.
Eight years later, charity: water has raised more than $175 million and funded more than 13,000 water projects which, when completed, will have brought water to over 5 million people in 24 nations. For me, generosity is practical. It's the ability to use one's position of influence, relative wealth and power to affect lives for the better. I needed to put myself first in a completely new way – putting up my hand to say ‘I’ll go’. My one year of voluntary service became a lifetime calling to make a difference. If you were the first to raise your hand today, where might God lead you?
Click HERE for today's web presence