Category Archives: Awareness

Really good or really bad?

McDonald’s recently used South African orphans in this “live stunt” commercial.

There is a debate brewing as to whether McDonald’s exploited the orphaned children, even though they “compensated” them for their participation.  This article gives a little insight into that discussion:

I lean toward it being a great picture of beautiful children getting great joy from giving and serving others.

We are all created to serve and it always encourages me to watch others experience joy while living out that purpose.

What are your thoughts?

(NOTE: This is not an April Fools prank post – hopefully you knew that before reading this disclaimer : ))

Sometimes “why?” is not the right question

Dylan RidolfiJust a few weeks ago, tragedy struck the home of one of our close friends.  Their 15-year-old son, Dylan, a great kid on his way to great things in this world, died in a freak sledding accident.

He could have gone down that same hill a million different times and not died.

But he did.

Now, as his parents, siblings, family, and friends try to process the loss, mourning, and sadness, many, many questions run through our minds.  And one such question that dominates is, “Why did this happen?”

People often ask “Why?” when bad things happen in life, to them or to others.  The question certainly arises when a family member or friend is killed in an accident or from a disease that happens “before his or her time.”

While asking “Why?” is a very common response to tragedy, and is a very natural part of the grieving process to help us try to understand and bring emotional closure, I have come to see over the course of my life that it just might be the wrong question to ask in these situations.  Not only because we likely will never know just why our loved one died at that particular time, but because it often causes bitterness and anger, and, consequently, keeps us from asking the more important question: “To what end?”

Quiet StrengthIn Tony Dungy’s (former coach of the Indianapolis Colts) book, Quiet Strength, Dungy recounts the most difficult experience he ever had in his life when his son took his own life at the age of 18.  In so doing, Dungy discusses the need to ask “What?,” not “Why?”

“Why do bad things happen?  I don’t know.  Why did Jamie die?  I don’t know. But I do know that God has the answers, I know He loves me, and I know He has a plan – whether it makes sense to me or not.  Rather than asking why, I’m asking what.  What can I learn from this?  What can I do for God’s glory and to help others?”

Dungy with sonThe book goes on to chronicle how Dungy’s life answered those questions with some very life-giving stories and conversations.  Here is one such story: “One worried father asked me to call his son, who he thought might be contemplating taking his life.  We spoke several times over the next few weeks.  ‘Why are you taking the time to call me?’  the son finally asked.  ‘Because if someone had been able to help my son with a phone call, I hope they would have taken the time,’ [Dungy responded.] His dad called me later to thank me for helping his son get through that time.  I was happy to know that our experience, as unbearable as it was, had actually helped another family.”

God’s plan in all of this may never make sense to us and we may never know why Dylan died as that particular time on that particular hill.  There still is a whole lot of mourning and healing going on, and likely will continue in some ways for the rest of our lives.

Fortunately, though, I have already seen first-hand over the past few weeks how asking the question, “To what end?,” can result in some pretty incredible things.  For instance, just a few days after Dylan’s death, I watched his friends (and he had lots of friends), freshmen in high school, pour out their hearts, one after another, at a candlelight vigil – sharing how he inspired them during his life and will continue to inspire them in his death to love better, work harder and with more purpose, and never take a minute of their lives for granted.


So, while we will all miss Dylan dearly for the rest of our lives, we need to keep asking ourselves and each other the two questions that guided Dungy through the valley he found himself in after his son’s death.

What can I learn from this?

What can I do for God’s glory and to help others?

We can rest in the fact that God somehow will use his tragic death to bring glory to Him and to help others in amazing ways, seen and unseen.

(As you finish reading this post, please pray for the Ridolfi family, that God will continue to give them a peace and calm that passes all understanding through this extremely difficult time.)

(This post is a modification of a post I previously published in September 2011 on the Providence blog about my sister-in-law’s suicide.)

Two videos you need to watch . . .

Over the past few days, I’ve seen two TED talks that raise issues critical to millions of children’s lives and the future of non-governmental organizations and global missions.  Here they are, without further commentary:

What thoughts do these videos provoke in you?  Do they cause you to re-think any of your paradigms about non-profit organizations and/or orphan care?  I’d love to hear your responses.

You can read about how Providence is collaborating with other great organizations to address the issues raised in the videos, as well as many other things, at

A poignant and chilling reminder

NiemollerMy reading in Bonhoeffer this morning reminded me of this chilling quote by Martin Niemöller (a leader in the German Christian church during the early years of Hitler’s reign):

“First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

These words serve as a reminder to me and you that it’s not “somebody else’s” job to speak and act against the injustices in our world.

Whether poverty, oppression, fatherlessness, slavery, or any of the myriad other tragedies occurring today in our world, don’t wait for “somebody else” to do it.  Don’t wait for “those people” (whoever “they” are) to “help their own people.” Don’t turn a blind eye to the tragedies in our world.

Pay attention to injustice, engage it with a discerning mind, and fight against it with courage and boldness.

It’s my duty to stand up for what is right.

It’s your duty to stand up for what is right.

It’s our duty to fight for justice.

Even if it’s not popular.

The quote inscribe in stone at the New England Holocaust Museum - as you can read, the quote differs a bit from transcription to transcription - but the meaning and impact remains the same with each reading.

The quote inscribed in stone at the New England Holocaust Museum – as you can read, the quote differs a bit from transcription to transcription – but the meaning and impact remain the same with each reading.

Some things we can learn from MLK

IMG_0636Martin Luther King provided much wisdom for many people during his short time on Earth.  I want to share some of that wisdom with you today without comment.  So here it is (these are pictures from a recent trip I took to the the MLK memorial in Washington, D.C.):






This is what Justin thought of the whole experience!

This is what Justin thought of the whole     experience!