The joys of social media mean that we can all engage with charities in simple and immediate ways. But just how deeply do we connect through our â€˜likesâ€™ and retweets?
The opportunities for what the charity sector calls â€˜stakeholder engagementâ€™ are growing apace. Every year, it seems, there is a new social media platform or app or device to help us connect ever more quickly and directly with the causes we care about.
Itâ€™s now gratifyingly easy to satisfy our social conscience at the click of a button. Itâ€™s funky, itâ€™s fun and it costs us very little.
And perhaps thatâ€™s the problem. At the risk of appearing judgmental, dare we ask: just how deeply are we engaging with the issues that matter to us? Are we kidding ourselves that a quick click to show our approval will actually make a difference?
Thereâ€™s no getting around it: bringing about change requires effort and sacrifice, and being part of a real community rather than a virtual one. True engagement, true love, costs us.
Social media have a huge part to play in raising awareness and catalysing a response. They are terrific starting places. But we have to go further if weâ€™re serious about tackling the issues that make us angry, such as injustice against children.
In our busy worlds, time is the biggest gift we can make to a cause we care about. We need to be prepared to become collaborators rather than consumers, to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.
One way is through faithful and sustained prayer, one of the highest forms of sacrificial involvement. Which is why we value our prayer partners so highly.Â Â
Another way is practical action as part of Team BCT.
Thatâ€™s why we at BCT are building a network of Champions whose lives become knitted into the warp and weft of our work serving vulnerable children across the world.
Weâ€™re so blessed to have many people who give their time and talents to BCT. Men like musician Alex Gichohi who is preparing to go out to Rwanda to serve our partner project, APRECOM. He says: â€˜Growing up, my mother always said to me “Whenever you get an opportunity to be a blessing to somebody, grab it and do it with your whole heart, as unto God.” I want share the skills that God has given me with APRECOM and at the same time learn from them.â€™
And women like Grace Burfitt who was prepared to throw herself out of a plane in a tandem sky-dive in October as part of a BCT fundraiser. â€˜I knew it would be hard for me as I am terrified of heights,â€™ says Grace. â€˜I have a passion for BCT and felt that my few minutes of feeling uncomfortable was nothing compared to the children we care so much about.â€™
Their commitment and courage are mirrored in the work of our amazing partner projects, which are run almost entirely by volunteers. These are people who are motivated only by their desire to see childrenâ€™s lives transformed.
Chelmy (pictured right) is a great example. He spends his week days working as a volunteer social worker with our partner project EPED, reaching out to street-living children in Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo. On Saturdays, he runs EPEDâ€™s football club for street boys, which was launched this year and which is already hugely successful.
Then, after the training, Chelmy takes home all the football strips worn by the 90-odd club members â€“ and washes them by hand. He has no washing machine, just buckets of cold water, a bar of soap and a heart to see lives changed.
Not everyone can go abroad or take on an endurance challenge. But we can all ask God how we move beyond â€˜selfâ€™ and â€˜selfiesâ€™ and allow His love to direct our actions. Dare you!