Easter is just around the bend and if you've been to any retail store lately, you can't miss the pastel displays of bunnies and chicks and candy, the racks of frilly dresses and tulle skirts and tiny clip-on ties and pastel sweater vests. I have many fond memories of Easters in my childhood. They always consisted of new fancy dresses, Easter egg hunts at Grandma's church, and delicious, huge lunches with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles. Looking back on all the pageantry, I feel silly now for all the efforts to look fancy for the holiday. On a day when we celebrate the broken body of Jesus restored and rising from the grave, love overcoming death and sin, it is natural to want to rejoice... but when did the resurrection become synonymous with spending a fortune on satin and organza and lace?
This Easter, our family has committed to joining our dear friends, Jason and Emily Fox, who shepherd Living Grace Church in Campbellsville, KY in forgoing the annual Easter tradition of new clothes and shoes and frills and lace. On Easter Sunday, the Parker Pack will be wearing brightly colored t-shirts. That's right, t-shirts. But these t-shirts aren't just any ordinary shirt--these shirts are made to support a cause.
There is a young girl, Sidney, who at the tender age of seven, had her heart broken for one of Jesus' most beloved causes: the orphans. Sidney began making t-shirts to raise money for the children of Africa, and she and her family continue to travel to Ghana and use the money they raise to feed, clothe, and shelter the orphans. This little girl (who is embarking on her preteen years and not so little anymore) inspires me so much, because she saw a need, she felt God's call to care for the least, and she did something about it. She started small, but over the past few years, her ministry has grown and grown.
Last year, my friend Emily, feeling moved by Jesus to care for the least, issued a challenge to her friends and her church to "Forget the Frock and Feed the Orphans." (You can read her post last year here). I'm ashamed to say that last year, I didn't read the post until just before Easter, and since I couldn't get the shirts in time, and I'd already bought cute clothes, I just let her challenge pass me by. WOW--how lame am I?
Since last year, I've thought a lot of the plight of the orphans of Africa as well as the many hungry children who live in places around the world. I've imagined how difficult it must be, listening to the hungry cries of a toddler, wails that are filled of hope of food that quiet into silent despair as their hunger grows. I imagine these children, chewing on twigs or eating mud to put something, anything into their painfully hollow bellies. I imagine their thin arms and legs, their bulging eyes and sunken cheeks. God has convicted me of my selfishness, and our family has spent the last year looking for ways to serve the least. This year, I won't be ignoring this opportunity to help. And I'm hoping that YOU will join me, too.
The challenge is simple. First, visit Sydney's site here and buy a shirt. They are cute, and all the money goes directly to feeding the orphans. If they are sold out, you still have no excuse!! Visit another great site, 147 Million Orphans--they also sell merchandise that supports the cause. Wear your shirt proudly on Easter and tell everyone how they can feed orphans, too.
Then, if you want to really carry this through, figure out how much you would have spent on new Easter clothes for your family--cute bows and new shoes and tights and dresses and little vests and ties--and whatever the difference in your t-shirt purchases and that amount, DONATE IT. You can put it towards the church's missions account. Send it to Feeding the Orphans or another reputable organization that feeds children, here in the U.S. or abroad. Use it to go buy bags and bags of groceries for your local food pantry or just cut them a check. You choose where the money goes, but use your money to do something to honor the amazing sacrifice of Christ.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you
did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did
for me.’ Matthew 25:40.
On Easter Sunday, it is my hope that I will see a sea of brightly colored t-shirts sporting Feed the Oprhans designs. If your family or church decides to Forget the Frock this year, comment here, or even better, use the email link on the 'Links' page of this blog and send me a photo of your family sporting their shirts. It may not seem like a lot to you and I, but for a hungry child, your donations and support to these causes will mean the world.