I think everyone has heard the story about the boy and starfish. If not, this is it:
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference." The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied.
"I made a huge difference to that one!"
My Dad has been working with a Somalian refugee since he arrived in America about six months ago. Bakar is deaf and came to America with basically nothing and was paired up with my Dad through Catholic Social Services.
My Dad has worked with Baktar to help him with basic things that you and I would take for granted - figuring out bus lines to get to his job, rides to his mosque, enrolling in classes, figuring out how to get a text only cell phone plan. What I think is so cool is the way my Dad has applied his network of friends and knowledge of the various systems out there to get Bakar dental reconstruction and a cochlear implant through U of M as part of a program they offer.
I've seen a lot of people retire and focus on themselves - traveling around the country, golfing and joining country clubs. My Dad chose to invest his time into being Jesus in the flesh to this man. I know of Christians who spend a lot of time being able to argue their faith with Muslims. I think the way my Dad lives his life is a much more effective way to tell one Muslim who Jesus is - by acting like him.
Reading the words of Jesus, this stuff is far more important than belonging to the right denomination, political party or protesting just the right thing. When Jesus was asked the Kingdom of God, he had this to say about the importance of how we treated the least of those:
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
It's great when I talk to my Dad to hear his excitement about Bakar and the progress he's making in America. It's cool to see how this experience is giving my Dad a first-hand look at how tough it can be to get ahead for someone who starts out behind the eight-ball, even for someone who is motivated and driven, without the right resources. My Dad's a great example for me in how life shouldn't be lived in orbit around yourself. My Dad may not be able to fix the destruction caused by radical islam, or stop the genocide going on in Somalia - but like the boy saving the starfish, my Dad is making a difference to Bakar.