Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Haiti: Helping Without Money

In 2003 I went on a ten day mission trip to Haiti. Along with members of my church at the time, we worked on building a church and school. Two families from that church are now in the process of adopting children from Haiti. Some of the people I met in Haiti I stayed in contact with for a while after, but I haven't talked to any in years. When the earthquake struck, I knew that there was a strong likelihood that some of those people had died, and all had certainly been effected.
I didn't remember if the building that we helped with had the proper steel reinforcements, but I hoped that it did, so that it could be a refuge. I prayed and prayed, as many of you must have as well.
My strongest memory from my trip was an orphanage. It had disabled children downstairs and orphan babies upstairs. Everyone cooed over the babies, but my heart broke for the disabled, for "Mon Ami," my friend who was banging his head against the wall when we arrived, but then silently lead me by hand all around the orphanage. He had not been adopted, and probably would not be.

Ways to Give

The Hunger Site

The Hunger Site has an e-card you can send. With each e-card sent, money is donated to Haiti. I couldn't pin down exactly how much money is sent with each e-card, but every bit helps.

Hotels Combined

Hotels Combined has a program where you can donate to charity by writing about them. You can donate $5 for a Facebook update, $10 for a Tweet, and $20 for a blog post or button on your sidebar like I have. One of the charities you can donate to is World Vision, which has been working in Haiti for years.


For 45 Swagbucks, you can make a charitable donation of $5. The Red Cross is on the massive list of charitable organizations to choose from.

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Anonymous said...

Great ideas!! We need to be a witness to those in Haiti. We have brothers and sisters in Christ that need help and strength. We have those who haven't found Christ that need us to be the Light to them. This is a great way to do that.

Sondra Rose said...

Thanks, Emily! Great post and very helpful.

Gizmola said...

First of all, Our Family is His - who cares whether these people believe in God, Jesus, Allah or the Easter Bunny? EVERYONE needs help and not by trying to convert them.

Secondly, Emily, this is the first post I totally agree with and I think it's a very good thing to highlight.

Anonymous said...

Gizmola, I didn't say convert them. I didn't say they didn't need help. Read again. I said we need to be the light. It's hard to talk to a person about Christ if they are hungry, homeless, and in fear of their lives. Being the light is coming in and loving them through helpnig them. Get a grip. I was putting all the burden on us, not on their Christianity status.

Anonymous said...

great post! We actually just donated 6 garbage bags of our outgrown summer clothes and a couple bags of medicine/toiletries to an organization that's bringing crates of supplies to Haiti-its great to be able to pass on stuff we're not using anymore but will really help others out!

Melissa said...

I agree with Gizmola, I don't care what these people believe in. I just can't bear the thought of innocent children starving in the streets without even the barest of necessities like food and water! We couldn't donate much but we gave what money we could to the Red Cross. We also sent many prayers and positive thoughts like many other people did around the world.

Emily, Thank you for blogging about this today. I was having a not so great morning and this post totally reminded me how trivial my "problems" are when there is true suffering and devastation in the world.

God Bless,

Anonymous said...

Just blogged about Hotels Combined and emailed them-another $20 to help others :) Hopefully everyone will take a minute and do some of the things you've listed!

Anonymous said...

We have given to my son's school when they asked for donations from Haiti, my hubby is laid off right now and the economy in my city is at a stand still.

I hate to admit this, but I have donated more money to local charities because there are so many here who are going without. Giving to Haiti is definitely a good thing, but taking care of those in our own backyard is a good thing as well :)

Mom in Canada

crabcakes said...

"Doctor's without borders" is another non-mission based charity to be considered. There is no "help them now, preach to them later".

Some charities do dangle the rice bowl over the heads of people with a bible in the other hand. And I don't like that. If my kids were starving, I'd take a bible too. I'm not sure that's the best way to help Haiti right now.

I prefer charities that serve people as they are without a mental tally of who they can convert later. And there are plenty out there that have no religious motive.

Give without the expectation of anything in return. That's the only true charity.

(Not saying all religious charities are like what I described. But many mission based charities are. That's what "mission" means. Charity...with a mission beyond that.)

Emily said...

Mom in Canada, to some degree, you can use these same tactics to give locally without any cost to you. The Hunger Site is one that takes little effort but really helps those in need. If you are in a community in need, they may be helping there without you even know it.

crabcakes said...

Mom in Canada,

The poor people in my backyard have access to food banks, food stamps, WIC, section 8 housing, free school meals, and free education.

In many other countries, it is not the case.

Poverty in America or Canada and Poverty in places like Haiti are two different things.

I give to the children who need it most. They have no control over where they are born and we are all human. Haitian humans are worth the same to me as American humans.

Anonymous said...

OK, forget that I mentioned Christians being a light to the world. It was a call to action, not a call to force God on people. Good grief.

Gizmola said...

Our Family Is His - you don't need to be a Christian to be helpful and caring.

Perhaps I misread what you wrote, but you wrote: "We have those who haven't found Christ that need us to be the Light to them. This is a great way to do that." - which indicates that helping in Haiti is a way to bring Christ to them.

I just have a problem with any "Christian" organization which feels that proselytizing is in any way helpful to those in dire straits.

If I misunderstood your intention then I apologize.

Emily said...

crabcakes, I think as long as people are giving, we're on the right track. I tend to agree that giving to those in the greatest need at the moment is best, but there are a lot of people struggling in North America. We give stuff, like canned goods and clothes, locally and money overseas.

I'm too young for this bull said...

crabcakes said...

The poor people in my backyard have access to food banks, food stamps, WIC, section 8 housing, free school meals, and free education.

Many of the local food banks are down to helping 1 day a month because their stock is so low. School meals are only given when school is in session, what about weekends, school breaks or like now, our kids haven't been in school for the last 3 days because of the weather. Section 8 can sometimes take months just to get on the list. There are many working poor who make $5.00 too much to qualify for WIC or food stamps.
I am not saying your logic is wrong, what I am saying is I just don't agree with it.

Blessed said...

Thank you so much for this post, Emily. I want to give, much more than I really can, and this helps me live out my values of generosity without undermining other values of our home. I am going to blog about all this too!

Nelly said...

Millions have lost everything in the quake – homes, food, jobs! For the next 12 months, the World Food Programme says 2 million people will need critical food assistance! If you want to help and learn more about the crisis response, go to:> or you can text FRIENDS to 90999 to make a $5 donation.

Steve knight said...

The sad part is some of the first and even before it happened were missionaries trying to convert people right after the disaster. There were ports from the rescue workers how they got in the way and did not help. This was the evil side if Christianity showing it's ugly head.

Susan said...

Thanks Emily.

It's good to know there are places where we can DO something to help out. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Very helpful post Emily, thanks.
if I'm looking for a gift for someone I'll often go to their store, not only do they have a lot of reasonably priced high quality products, but a cup of food is donated for every dollar spent.

Also, for those that can afford to give a monetary gift, could I give a shout-out to SOS Children's Villiage? They're doing really great things in Haiti.

Anonymous said...

In my city there are few breakfast programs for children, the food banks are struggling because it's hard for those to donate when they don't have jobs, and there are about 2000 on a waiting list for affordable housing, since this is in an area that we are lagging behind.

My city is affected by the automotive industry, when it suffers, we suffer as a direct result. Sadly, there are local children going to school with no food for lunch, or no boots on their feet.

It's estimated that those renting in our area spend 50 percent of their income in housing. Unemployment benefits are only 420.00 (canadian) a week, and that does not cover the essentials.

I believe in helping those in need, especially in Haiti, my heart breaks for those children. But I have a greater empathy helping children in my son's own school who need the canned goods, I try to donate as much non perishable food as I can.

I have a neighbour down the street, a single mom who I give my sons' outgrown (in good shape) clothes too, it's a great feeling to help out a friend who is struggling.

Donate worldwide yes, but right now North America is in a deep recession, and the children are the ones who are suffering from hunger.

Mom in Canada

Melissa said...

Our Family is His: I totally get what you are saying. Yes, we need to give these people the food and water and shelter and clothing that they need now. But what good is that going to do them in eternity? As Christians, we MUST have a biblical worldview that meets both physical and spiritual needs. Those who are not in Christ will not understand that mandate, but it IS a mandate. I would rather someone die of starvation and in poverty, with the future of eternity in Heaven because they've placed faith in Jesus Christ, than have them live on this earth with their physical needs met and then die to spend an eternity in Hell. It's all about perspective and eternal trumps temporal every time.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't attend to the physical needs. We should. But it's not wrong to have a "mission" to help these people spiritually as well.

Gizmola said...

Seriously, Melissa? You think it's better to die of starvation with Jesus in your heart?

So I guess to you all Jews are going to spend an eternity in hell? So are atheists? Agnostics? Buddhists? Confucionists? Muslims? Hindus?

Contrary to your "biblical" worldview there are a LOT of people who DO NOT believe in Jesus Christ. And MOST of them are wonderful people wanting the same things you do: happiness, security, good food, a loving family. Many of them are infinitely more moral, ethical, generous, kind, compassionate and loving than a lot of Christians.

I do hope I've misread you but according to your logic that means all Jews who died during the Holocaust are now burning in hell. Is that really the message you want to support? That you want your children to support? Would you tell a Jew who lost family in a concentration camp that their loved ones are burning in hell for all eternity?

Please tell me I'm mistaken. I shudder to think that you could really think like that and call yourself a loving Christian.

Emily said...

Gizmola, that is what the Bible teaches, that those without Christ go to hell. People who believe the Bible is God's word believe that. It doesn't mean we don't love those that don't know Christ or want to see anyone die and starve, but in the grand scheme of things, knowing Christ is what is most important.

Gizmola said...

I'm sorry. I'm trying to be respectful today because I do really support the post you wrote and I'm really glad you're highlighting the need to help but...

There is a big world with a lot of different belief systems - Christians do NOT have all the answers. No one does. All anyone can do is find the answer that satisfies their own journey. And it really is inappropriate for Christians to deem certain people doomed.

I have read extensively about the Holocaust. The tales of bravery, courage, honor, dignity and compassion are many. Both in actions by Christians and non-Christians. Remember, the Nazis were Christians. Obviously, Christians are not wholly good people because they believe in Christ. What one does with their beliefs matter much more than what they believe.

I just can't believe that anyone of you - Melissa or Emily - could have the nerve to look a concentration camp victim in the eye and tell them they're going to spend eternity in hell. That's not holding tight to your beliefs. That's cruel and I thought one thing Christians should NOT be is cruel. It's just not your place to make those kinds of sweeping generalizations.

I am an atheist. Born and raised. I am sure you think I'm going to spend eternity in hell. Fine and dandy. Doesn't bother me because I don't believe in hell. But to think of you telling someone who actually lived in hell on earth that they were forever doomed just seems pointlessly cruel. Yes, I realize you HAVEN'T done this, but just knowing you support that belief stuns me.

Aren't Christians supposed to be loving, charitable, forgiving, understanding, compassionate, accepting, and tolerant...kind of like...well, Jesus? Jesus, from the little I've read, would never, ever, ever even think that a man who lived through Auchwitz was going to be dommed for all eternity. Never. I don't believe Jesus is the son of God, but if he were there's no freaking way he'd even consider that possibility.

If there were a God he'd know the heart of each person on earth. He'd know their deeds. I bet no God would cast someone into hell unless that person were evil through and through. You think that Elie Weisel is going to hell but because he believed in Jesus that Hitler is sitting at the right hand of God? Not happening. Not in a million years. God, if there were one, wouldn't care if you worshipped him or believed in him or tithed or had fifteen children or two. He would care about one thing: how kind you are, to yourself and to those around you. I would bet an eternity in hell on that.

Emily said...

Gizmola, I have appreciated your respectful tone today and have thus published your comments.

First, Christianity is certainly not the only religion that says that those who don't follow it are doomed. That's a fairly common religious theme. It is not exclusive to Christianity.

You're right, I wouldn't go up to a concentration camp victim and tell them they're going to hell. I wouldn't do that to anyone. It's not effective or helpful. Most Christians don't do that.

The gospel is clear. Jesus said he was the only way to heaven. Saying Jesus wouldn't say that only says that you haven't read much of what he said. He did not promote a gospel of tolerance of sin. There is a difference between tolerance of cultural differences (dancing styles, dress codes, etc) and tolerance of sin. Christians get these confused somtimes, but Christ didn't.

Hitler did not believe in Jesus. That is a myth. He was an evolutionist through and through. Survival of the fittest ring a bell?

You are spouting a lot of generalities and misconceptions, but I hope I have clarified a little for you.

Ashe said...

I agree with Gizmola. Unlike her, I believe in God. I was raised believing in a higher power. What I don't agree with is religion as a mandate. Some people find great comfort in religion. I get it. I get having a place you can go to be around like-minded people. A place that makes you feel like one with Spirit.

However I cannot believe that God would say that one religion is right over another, but since you feel that Christianity is the way, what about the Bible saying that the Jews are God's chosen people?

I'm just curious.

heather said...

thanks for this post. it is a reminder for me to take some sort of financial action towards helping those in haiti. i have prayed for them, spread the word for others to help. but other than giving the children money to donate to their school's relief effort i have not made a contribution yet.

this makes me feel bad. when i was sick, my family and i received amazing support from so many. it has been my mission to "pay it forward" whenever i can. and i have been giving atleast twice a month to help others. i have one monthly donation taken out regularly for the liz logelin foundation and then usually i give to someone in need atleast once more in each month. i do tend to focus on those struggling with cancer because i just happen to be more aware of people in that situation because of my own.

and again, i haven't contributed to haiti. i have thought about it, both monetary and supplies. shamefully, i haven't done it yet. so this is the push i needed to go ahead and donate. i plan to donate to atleast one organization as soon as i submit this comment. probably to doctors without borders, but maybe also the red cross.

as for the religious aspect. i am a christian, though not a traditional one i'm sure. i believe that we have one God and with God ALL things are possible...including the ability for Him to reach out to others in many ways as in different faiths.

my mind, heart and spirit can not fathom a loving God who created us all who is perfect and omni-everything with human traits of jealousy, anger, vengeance and wrath. we are all part of Him. we are all loved by Him, regardless of the name He has taught us to call Him.

Jennifer said...

Just some thoughts, I know it's off-topic Emily, sorry!:

Hitler did not believe in Jesus in the way the Bible teaches about Christ. He wrongly believed that Jesus was not a Hebrew (Jew). He also believed Christianity was for the weak. He was born into a religious household, but this does not mean that he was automatically a Christian. Hitler stated that Christianity was a symptom of decay. Mein Kampf gives great insight to Hitler's rather strange and misled understanding of Christianity, "Providence", as he called God and who Jesus was. Many times he made statements of "faith" to win the masses to his side when he was plotting the destruction of the Jews.

On the same hand, we don't know if Elie Wiesel (whose book, Night, I found amazingly heartbreaking and perceptive) is in hell or not because we don't know his heart. One cannot point fingers and say any specific person is in hell as we cannot read minds or hearts, but when reading the Bible (in context, not just picking one or two verses on which to base a mindset) it gives the answer to how a person can know whether they will be in heaven or hell. The book of John in the Bible gives a well-rounded understanding of what Jesus says about himself, the condition of man, and the eternity of each person.

I understand that it's hard to look at Christians and see the true Christ sometimes. Humans are imperfect (myself most definitely included!) I also understand that it's hard to fathom a God who judges sin (as in, how can a loving God send people to hell?) I struggled with this in the past, but have great peace knowing Jesus' death on the cross covers my screw-ups and sins. You mentioned that you had read little about Jesus. If you are ever interested in learning more, a great book to read that gives a good historical understanding of the person of Jesus is More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.

Bottom line that I've come to realize time and again is that the Bible, more than anything else in the entire world, gives the truest picture of Jesus Christ and His purpose.

On a more topical note, I appreciate you giving us some ideas, Emily, of how we can help those in Haiti! A friend of mine is in Haiti right now, working to distribute medical and food supplies. I love the Hotels Combined program.

Lauren H. said...

Actually, Emily, Hitler was a Christian. He wrote about Jesus quite a bit in Mein Kampf, considered Christianity an Aryan cultural trait. There were a few Nazis that were into Norse Paganism, but Hitler wasn't one of them.

As for his survival of the fitest ideas, well it's generally considered just that this was useful tool for explaining away his racism and anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews existed for centuries, and was endorsed by Protestants and Catholics alike (Martin Luther wrote some very anti-Semitic works). Hate exists without reason - it doesn't really have to do with any theory or belief, but it does try to find reasons to justify itself.

There are many people that use Christianity to spew hate, but that doesn't mean Christianity is bad, because there are people that use Christianity to do good. This is the same with every belief system, religious or secular.

I would like to add something - the fact that non-believers, no matter the circumstances, end up in hell is why I will NEVER be a Christian. I'd rather go to hell than believe in a god that would send otherwise good people that have suffered so much to hell.

Heather said...

Thanks! I traded in my Swagbucks today.

Lauren H. said...

Also, I'd like to point out that, contrary to the implications of Our Family Is His's post, Haitians are already Christians - they are just Catholics. Catholics are Christians.

Gizmola said...

In 1933 Hitler proclaimed Christianity as the foundation for national morality in Germany. He was brought up Catholic and while he ceased to practice Catholocism, continued to pay church dues and was, actually, a Catholic in good standing at his death.

In 1922 he wrote in a speech that Jesus was the true God. In Mein Kampf he writes many times about the creator of the universe and the Lord's will.

He was very vocal against atheism, at the time very much considered a communist ideal and he wished to distance himself from communism.

In 1933 he spoke AGAINST secular schools, believing only religiously based education could offer character development.

In regards to his anti-semitism he wrote in Mein Kampf: "I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Now, if you're saying that as a person of evil deeds and corrupted morals that Hitler was not a Christian, I can get on board with that. But, if you deem a Christian someone who believes in Jesus and God, period, then I respectfully disagree - Hitler would fit that criteria.

Honestly, I haven't read much of the Bible. To be truthful, I find it a boring read. So much of what I know comes second hand from people whose opinion I respect. Their picture of Jesus is one of infinite compassion and love. Not devisive in any way. The Jesus they talk about would accept and care for anyone who needed assistance.

What do you mean by tolerance of sin? Homosexuality? Single mothers? Not tithing?

When I think of sin I think of murder, rape, etc. Evil acts.

I have a hard time believing that a loving God or Jesus would see two men in a long-term, happy, commited and loving relationship as anything but something to emulate, not something to deride.

Isn't God, and therefore Jesus, supposed to be about LOVE?

Anonymous said...


I'm stuck on 'Hitler did not believe in Jesus...he was an evolutionist'. I know this is certainly off topic and does not pertain at all to helping the individuals suffering in Haiti, but I am now curious: why can someone not believe in both evolution and Jesus? There are plenty of scientist who believe in both, and plenty of individuals who believe in both Jesus and the act of evolution. Things, people, creature evolve, survival of the fittest does occur (naturally, not in the superior race Hitler sense). I guess I am lost on how we are sure that Hitler was not a believer just because we also believed in evolution??? I hope no one is taking this as advocating what happened to the Jews during World War II...I am not at all, it was a horrific time in the world's history. I am just curious about what makes people who believe in evolution unable to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

heather said...

reposting for an accountability check! =)

i made my donations finally. though your post was not about financial donations, again it made me stop to actually just make the donations instead of saying "later" day after day. yes i am a procrastinator.

unfortunately, i didn't have good luck with the doctors without borders site. some sort of problem with the captcha code not displaying. so i went with the red cross and another group i've been following.

if anyone is interested, the group is RHFH Rescue Center-they run a rescue center for orphans and children often suffering from malnutrition. since the earthquakes they have extended their services to include injured adults and adult hospice services. they are also a christian organization. i'm happy to have found their blog and feel that the work they are doing on an every day basis is awesome.

here's the link if anyone would like to check it out:

Gizmola said...

For the record, Jews don't believe in hell or eternal doom. By most rabbincal studies, Gehenna is occupied for no more than 11 months.

In Buddhism the idea of hell is also transitory and not doomed for all eternity.

Hinduim believes in reincarnation so the sins of past lives can be erased through rebirth through many good lives.

Taoism doesn't have the concept of hell.

Most religions beyond Christianity believe that occupancy in hell is based more on one's deeds during life than one's beliefs. Christianity is the one that believes that someone who lives a good and decent life is still doomed if their only "sin" is not believing in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, to clarify In my previous post I was referring to the Hunger Site store but neglected to mention the name.

heather said...

ok one more thing, off topic from the original post but to go along with the topic in the comments.

i was taught that in God's eyes a sin is a sin, that all sin is created equal. is this true? if so that would mean that lying and murder would be equal in nature and severity isn't it?

it's a pretty fair assessment to say that we all sin on occasion. but it's shocking to find that our "little" sins (fibs, coveting, etc.) could be in any way comparable to hitler.

Gizmola said...

To the person who stated that we don't know if Mr. Weisel is going to burn in hell because we don't know what's in his heart. THAT I agree with. He seems like a good, decent, caring man. But maybe he's done evil things we haven't heard about.

My point was that some commenting have stated that just by virtue of him being a Jew he was going to be doomed for all eternity. THAT I cannot get behind at all.

I agree with Lauren - I can't get behind any religion that damns good and decent people. Many of the people who worked at Auchwitz were Lutherans. I'm an atheist. Do I therefore deserve to burn as they deserve to be in heaven?

Emily said...

Gizmola, Hitler was a politician and manipulated Germans by claiming to adhere to Christianity, similarly to how some modern day American politicians do. The world top 3 religions, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, all believe in a judgemnt in the afterlife and they make up nearly 3/4 of the world's population.

Heather, yeah, all sin is the same. I see it this way: God is infinitely holy and his love for us is immeasurable. Thus, when we sin against him, that grieves him infinitely and so the punishment is everlasting.

Ria said...

Right now I'm doing some temp work with my local branch of the Red Cross, processing Haiti donations. The Canadian government has pledged to match individual donations, and there's a rush to get everything processed as quickly as possible so that more money can be obtained to help people out. I've seen donations ranging from $10 to (and I kid you not) a donation from some kind philanthropist totaling $25000.

Since I wasn't able to donate money of my own to this, I think I will spend my Swagbucks on donations instead. It's for a good cause, after all.

Lauren H. said...

Emily, I couldn't adhere to Islam either, because of that. And Hinduism, while have punishment for wrongdoing, doesn't have punishment necessarily for non-belief. There's no hell, just eternal rebirth into new lives. If people live good lives, they will eventually end up in Nirvana, the enlightenment, and if they live bad lives, they never will. That's not really the same as eternal damination. Though I don't necessarily believe in that either, it does seem a little more fair to me.

Gizmola said...

Emily, look, I have read Mein Kampf, Rise & Fall of the Third Reich, Inside the Third Reich, Kershaw's volumes on Hitler, just to name but a few. Whether Hitler believed in the same way you did I don't know. Obviously, no matter what he believed the evil he wrought overrode any religious belief. But I still disagree when people want to paint him as an atheist, agnostic, etc. Yes, his most pure religious fervor was for Germany, but he was not an atheist.

Further, you're wrong about Hinduism. What happens is called samsara - the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. The only way to escape is to through moksha, a perfect union with God, perfect knowledge of self, etc. And different sects of Hinduism believe different things ways in which one spends eternity after breaking from samsara. I have read the Bhagavad Vita, too. In fact the earliest Vedic religions, from which Hindu springs, has no concept of hell at all. And "hell" in Hinduism is simply being punished for past life sins and then being reborn again. Hell is not eternal. Hindusim does not believe in a judgement in any similiar way to Christianity or Islam.

Steve knight said...

The facts are no one knows if there is a god or gods. no one knows what happens after you die. no one can agree on what believes are true.
saying the scripture is clear is like say muddy water is clear. Christians can't agree on what the bible says Catholics are close to the first Christians and they don't believe just accepting Jesus was enough to get into heaven.
saying Jesus is the only way to heaven is and was is to commit most of the words population to hell since Jesus was born they knew nothing about him.
so would a loving god condemn most of the people he made to hell because they had no chance to know Jesus? that's pretty harsh. thats not a sign of a loving god.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer commented: "On the same hand, we don't know if Elie Wiesel (whose book, Night, I found amazingly heartbreaking and perceptive) is in hell or not because we don't know his heart."

I can tell you I am 100% SURE Elie Wiesel is not in hell. He's still alive.


Emily said...

Gizmola, I said Hinduism has judgement, not hell. From a humane standpoint, there judgement is worse than Christianity's. So what if we believe someone else goes somewhere else if they die? They treat people badly because they were born into a lower caste. I would say that is worse than believing something bad is going to happen.

Steve, disagreements among Christians are largely based on what parts of the Bible people choose to believe. Many church goers dismiss large chunks of the scripture because of what it teaches where others accept it all. Those that dismiss chunks dismiss them because what it teaches is so clear and they disagree with that teaching. Among those who believe every part, there are less disagreements.

Lauren H. said...

Ah, but Emily, Hindus at least get to be reborn again and again. Even if you are a lower caste (and, just an FYI, the issues with caste vary for from sect to sect), if they live in a good life, when they die they will be reborn to a better caste.

The point is, there is an out. There is no out from hell, no matter what what you did, even if that was as simple as never having heard of Jesus. That's sad.

As to disagreements, I don't think any serious Christian in any denomination ignores large chunks of the Bible. They just interpret it differently. Each sect of Christianity has different interpretations of various parts of scripture, which tells them to do belief different things.

I really don't think that there aren't a ton of disagreements between those that accept every word as valid. Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Mormons, Anabaptists all agree that every word of the Bible is true, they just disagree on how to interpret it.

Jennifer said...


You are right, Wiesel is still alive. I dont keep track of him on a daily basis, so I wasn't aware that was the case. I should have double-checked to make sure. The man has done some amazing things and opened many eyes in his lifetime.

On the other hand, my main point was to address Gizmola's statement questioning the Christians who say certain people are in hell or not. I'm sorry if that's the only statement that stood out to you in my post.

Gina said...

Thanks for posting ways to help those who have less in ways that are accessible for nearly anyone. Every little bit helps. I just wish the comments would've stayed more in line with the original post. Not your fault. Just complaining to complain. ;-)

Gizmola said...


You can't possibly believe every part of the Bible as being unerringly true and that every part should be followed to the letter. For example:

Leviticus 20:13
"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

So do you think we should kill homosexuals?

Leviticus 20:10
"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife - with the wife of his neighbor - both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."

Should we kill people who have affairs?

Exodus 22:16

"If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her he must pay the bride price and she shall be his wife."

If your daughter has sex at age 16 are you going to demand that the young man pay you and Dan money and marry her?

No matter what a Christian believes, they believe only the parts of the Bible they think are valid. You're not going to condone murdering homosexuals and adulterers. You're not going to force some pimply kid who is in love with your daughter to marry her and pay for her. So you don't believe every part - no one does - hence different interpretations.

And since not all Christians believe the same thing then it stands to reason that not all people will believe the same thing. So what denotes good and bad? If you want to be very basic, it should be kindness, compassion and love. ALL religions preach love and compassion in some fashion. Gosh, even us heathen atheists believe in love and compassion. Judgement, hell, torment, etc. - that's all just pointless. As Steve Knight said, no one REALLY knows. So the best any of us can do is to live the life we're called to live and love and respect each other. That way, no matter the eternal outcome, we're in good shape. That's how I see it.

Steve knight said...

But you can't follow every word in the bible because it contradicts it's self.
I know for a fact people find different meanings in the same parts of scripture. I see the arguments all the time.
The problem is that people don't realize it is impossible to read something and not interpret it's meaning. our experiences and what we believe and what we were taught changes that interpretation.
This the biggest fundamental flaw in religion.
All you have to do is look at the hundreds of different types of christian churches just here in the US to see that no one agrees on what the bible is really about.
plus the fact most holy books have been translated and that changes them too.
to believe every part of the bible is impossible as it is a book and as I have explained above.
the world is full of people who know wht the bible means and what a real Cristian is but they can't agree with each other.
Not even those who believe everything in the bible (that belief started in the 1930's by the way)

Jennifer said...

Hi Gizmola,

Sounds like you've had a chance to read some major material on Hitler and the Third Reich. I find WWII and the Holocaust extremely interesting (and extremely devastating) parts of history.

I absolutely would agree that those who committed such atrocities in the camps do NOT "deserve" to be in heaven just by virtue of being Lutheran--this coming from someone who as a Christian attends a Lutheran church :) Christianity is a matter of the heart and being part of a certain church body does not automatically qualify someone to be a Christian. Some people do believe that way though, so I can see where your thought is coming from.

I, myself, don't deserve to be in heaven with a God who is holy, perfect and loving. These verses in Titus chapter 3 pretty much sum up my thankfulness to God for His love! "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior."

I am trying to think carefully about what I am posting, hoping to come across as positive as possible, so thanks for taking the time to read.

Anonymous said...

Gizmola, Jesus would have said to every person, no matter how good or bad their life was, the same thing He said to Jews when He walked the face of the earth, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father but by Me". He said what most Christians say today. I will not be ashamed of the gospel and am not afraid to say that Jesus is the only truth out there, the only way to the Father and EVERY single person on the face of the planet has the ability to choose to be with Him for eternity.

And why do people say,"well this guy was a Christian and he was mean" like they are proving some odd point. Uh, so. I know a lot of mean athiests, guess you aren't quite so wonderful. Oh, that's right, there are bad people in every group out there, EVERY group.

Anonymous said...

Gizmola, why would we believe in killing homosexuals and the like? If you believe the WHOLE Bible, you would know that attonement for sin is done and there's no more killing for things such as kidnapping, stealing, and so on.

Emily said...

Lauren, if you believe none of it is true, then Hindus get a bad life because they were born into the wrong caste.

"Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Mormons, Anabaptists all agree that every word of the Bible is true, they just disagree on how to interpret it."

Jehovah's Witnesses have their own "translation" of the Bible that they admit is very different from what other Christian sects use. Catholics hold the word of the pope at the same level as the word of God. Mormons have other texts that they hold as equal to the Bible. Better examples would be Baptists, Pentacostals and Mennonites, where there are differences but they are less extreme.

Gina, those were laws written to the Jews. At that time in Jewish history, laws came directly from God. If you have a problem with it, that is between you and God, not you and me. I am not Jewish, and I do not live in a theocracry. The Jews of that time did.

Steve, the Bible doesn't contradict itself. People say that because they're not willing to study it out. People who are finding different meanings of the same scripture are reading their experiences into it instead of letting the text speak for itself.

Anyway, I'm removing myself from this discussion. If you have more questions for me personally, you can submit them to the FAQ.

Emily said...

Sorry, I meant Gizmola, not Gina!

Steve knight said...

Our Family Is His said...

Gizmola, Jesus would have said to every person, no matter how good or bad their life was, the same thing He said to Jews when He walked the face of the earth, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father but by Me". He said what most Christians say today. I will not be ashamed of the gospel and am not afraid to say that Jesus is the only truth out there, the only way to the Father and EVERY single person on the face of the planet has the ability to choose to be with Him for eternity.

They do? the American Indians who had never even seen a white man 2000 years ago could accept Jesus? the chinese the japanese all non white people who had no clue about Jesus?
This means God has dumped a majority of people into hell through no fault of their own. This thought does not encourage me to follow the bible.
sorry but I don't accept that and I very much doubt Jesus would ever do such a horrible thing.

Lauren H. said...

I'm not sure that if you'll read this or not, but I'm sending it anyways.

1. Jehovah's witnesses consider their translation the most correct from the original Greek and Hebrew. There are probably hundreds of different translations of the Bible out there, each which slightly alters the Bible. One of the most famous controversies in Biblical translation is of the word virgin, which in the original Greek, the word used didn't mean virgin like we do in English and other European languages. So the translation of that one word can vastly change a basic tenant of the Bible - namely the Virgin Birth of Jesus by Mary. See what I mean?

2. Catholics do not believe the word of the pope is equal to the Word of God. The pope is considered to have ultimate authority on Earth regarding the final interpretation of the Bible, which is not the same thing as his word being equal. It's a subtle difference, but Catholic philosophy has always been based on subtlty.

3. Anabaptists are Mennonites, and other related groups like the Amish and Hutterites. Baptism was heavily influenced by Anabatism.

And you're right, I don't believe any of Hinduism is true. Merely pointing out that you can't say that their beliefs in punishment is worse than Christianity because of the caste system. Within the belief system it makes sense that people that have been bad in past lifes would have bad future lifes. As it is, many Hindus interpret that caste system differently - it may be a punishment, but it isn't cause for mistreatment by higher castes. This is rather what Gandhi believed, who was a devote Hindu.

Chocoholic said...

All of it boils down to this - religions were created/developed as a way for us to explain the unknown. The reason there are so many differences, beliefs and inconsistencies is thanks to man.

Anonymous said...

Emily, I checked in just now and deliberately skipped all the comments because I just wanted to say:

This was probably your best ever post to your blog. Thanks for caring about Haiti, thanks for sharing your experiences, and thanks for telling people about ways to contribute.

On other stuff -- I'll go back to respectfully disagreeing with you on many things. :-)


Michele said...

OK since you mentioned Mormons I must step in. After the earthquake in Haiti the LDS Humanitarian Department was one of the first organizations to respond to the the nation of Haiti. The church is prepared for any crisis like this long before the help is needed. The day after the earthquake food and supplies were on a plane headed to Haiti. We as a church take very seriously the command of Christ that we must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to those that are thirsty and visit those in prison and in doing these things it is as we are doing it unto Christ himself. I believe that true hell is facing our sin for what its worth. Yes we have other scriptures, The Book of Mormon, Doctrin and Convenants and the Pearl of Great Price. We believe the Bible is God's word but that God has not stopped revealing his word to mankind. God loves us all weather we believe in him or not. The true mission of Christ's church is to show his love to all

Melissa said...

Gizmola, I hope this comes across with the utmost concern and compassion, as I really do feel that way toward you, although my beliefs are very black and white.

You did not misread me. I don't believe that our temporal circumstances, whether wonderful or horrendous, hold a candle to the eternity that we all face (whether we believe in that eternity or not.) Regarding the holocaust victims and survivors, I would not presume to know their hearts, and therefore would not make any sweeping judgments of them as a whole. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life, and the only way to the Father (and heaven) is through Him. Therefore, if they believed in Jesus, as He revealed Himself in the Bible, they are spending eternity in Heaven. If they did not, the unfortunate (yet just) reality is that they are not.

You assert that this statement is cruel, and not in the pattern of Jesus. However, would it not be far more cruel for me to keep quiet about this truth in order to preserve your momentary comfort?

You said, “If there were a God he'd know the heart of each person on earth. He'd know their deeds. I bet no God would cast someone into hell unless that person were evil through and through.” The thing is that God does know the heart of each person on earth, and each person IS evil through and through. (For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10) We all deserve Hell for transgressing the laws of a Holy and Just God. He sets the standard and we’ve all broken it (and we don’t get to argue with His standard.) Jennifer nailed it when she quoted Titus. It has nothing to do with what we’ve done, or haven’t done, because if it were based on that, we’d all end up in Hell. It has everything to do with the grace and mercy of God. In His grace and mercy, He sent His son, Jesus, who lived the perfect life that we were never able to. He became the substitute for us, dying on the cross taking our justly deserved punishment of death, so that we would not have to face eternity in Hell. The philanthropist, the thief, the policeman, the prostitute, the SS Soldier and the holocaust victim all have the same responsibility of sin and the same responsibility of responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So do I, and so do you.

Anonymous said...

Steve, really you think that way? Wow, I guess all those planes, trains, and automobiles only go to white man's land. You know, I believe the Bible is true and that Jesus wasn't a liar or a mentally deranged lunatic (He would have to be one of those if He wasn't who He said He was). You don't. That's your choice. You have that right to believe what you want. But, if Jesus is who He claims to be, why would it be so hard for Him to do what He said and for all to have the opportunity to receive Him, even before email existed?

Gizmola said...

I, like Emily, am going to remove myself from the discussion as I fear it's not going anywhere productive.

I do want to note to Emily that Dalits are not simply and unluckily born into a lower caste. They are believed to be atoning for wrongs done in a previous life. And by living their present lives with honor and dignity can thereby erase those past sins and acheive moshka. They are not, in any way, doomed - in this life or the next. They simply are reborn repeatedly until reaching moshka.

My last statement is to Melissa. You may feel that way and I don't respect it. I think your priorities are not in order. However, if you were in need I'd sure make sure your basic needs were met before trying to convert you to my subjective way of thinking. I can only hope that you would one day do the same for me.

Anonymous said...

I think it basically boils down to this. It seems that people don't mind if we hold honest beliefs, as long as we don't really think they are true because they don't believe they are true.

I think it's been interesting. I think you are all right (Gizmola and Emily and...wasn't there someone else - tired) it's not really going anywhere at this point. I respect each of your beliefs, even if I disagree with them. I hold very strong beliefs, all centered on Christ's teachings, the Bible's teachings, and Christ's promises. I know each of you holds your own beliefs based on life events, personal thought/reflection, religious texts, and so on. I might not agree, but I affirm your right to believe it, and respect you and your beliefs.

nepamom said...


I'm sure after yesterday you were just trying to post a kind, thoughtful post...I never expected the comments to turn the ay they did. I'm glad you found ways to help the people of Haiti and thank you for sharing them. I don't agree with some of the religious ideas that were brought up (yours and others) but don't feel that was the point of this post. Maybe in the future you can share your religious views in more detail...I'm sure the comment section would get pretty heated but it would probably be educational as well!

Steve knight said...

I believe Jesus was a holly man like Gaundi was.
He died for what he believed in and what he did. in he did not die for our pathetic sins.
I think it is sick people rejoice in someone getting tortured just to forgive their sins.
just because things are in the bible does not mean they happened. I very much doubt Jesus was like he is portrayed in the bible. no one really knows since we can't go back in time.
but to think god who made this world with all of the diverse people all over the world would ever be foolish enough to expect everyone to be able to know one religion.
I am sure he planned on there being other religions and that they are not what makes a person good. how a person treats themselves and others are what makes the world a better or a worse place. beliefs tend to screw up the world not make it better. at least in all the thousand of years humans have been on earth no religion has made the world a better place. Only good people can do that and they come in all flavors.

Kay said...

Wonderful ideas on how to help with the disaster that is Haiti and for bringing to our attention when it might be falling off the front page although the need is certainly only getting worse.

Just one little thing about Elie Wiesel, luckily for him he is still alive and doing great work and when he dies he surely won't be going to Hell because we Jews do not believe in Heaven or Hell. Perhaps Messianic Jews or Jews for Jesus do but the rest of us don't. Our life on earth is our chance to do what is right, kind and we are to adhere to the laws of the Torah and try and heal the world (Tikkun Olam)

Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware that you could use Swagbucks for charity. I will certainly start doing that instead of the sporadic 5 dollar amazon gift cards I have been getting. Thanks for the info.


Ria said...

Our Family is His said...

I think it basically boils down to this. It seems that people don't mind if we hold honest beliefs, as long as we don't really think that they are true because they don't believe they are true.

I think that's a gross oversimplification of religious rifts. Personally, I am a believer in the "many paths, one destination" way of belief. If you believe that Jesus is the only way to your God, then that's fine... for you. If you believe that the Christian God is the only god, then that's also fine... for you. Most truly religious people experience their religion on a very personal level, having individual relationships with their deities and other religious figures, and I commend them for it. It's only when they start saying, "This is true for me, so it must be true for everybody else," that there starts being a problem.

I know that those who believe in the Bible say that there is only one true God, and that too is also fine. Maybe there is only one true God. As a pagan, even I accept that. My own belief structure leads me to believe that all deities through history are just facets of an overall divine being, and it's how we interpret and interact with those facets that determines how our lives go. So maybe your God and my gods are one in the same, and it's only our methods of belief that differ.

I don't believe that the Bible is the complete truth, because it's a subjective history that was written by many people and also is something that we're so far removed from that it's sometimes hard to get a handle on exactly what's being meant when it's being said. That being said, though, I don't deny that the Bible has some very good lessons to teach people, in regards to morality and love.

But on the other hand, so does the Qur'an. And about a zillion other holy books. Which just adds to my belief that although we may walk different paths, we're all headed to the same place. How we lived our lives and how we believed will, ultimately, affect our interpretation of an afterlife.

I could have long discussions and debates about the validity of the Bible, and I enjoy doing so, so long as the debate is kept friendly. :) But since the conversation is dead now, I'll close off. I just wanted to add two cents from a standpoint that was neithr Christian nor atheist. :)

Anonymous said...

Ria, I wasn't speaking about all religious rifts. That's what this one seemed to be, sorry for the confusion.

Kaity said...

Gizmola, for someone who claims to be an atheist, you have an overwhelming interest in the afterlife of others. If you truly believe there is not life after this one here on earth, then why do you care so much what others believe? Sounds like you're not so sure of yourself. One minute you claim you don't care about hell because it doesn't exist, and then later you sound like you really believe in Hindus being able to attain some eternal state. And it's just laughable that you're angry if someone says it's great if some poor, innocent starving person has Jesus in his heart, but then you claim that people who live the lowest of the low life in India deserve it because of their guilt of having been "bad" in a previous existence. Which is it?

The gospel of Jesus offends. It says so in the Bible, which you admit you haven't read. And you sound mighty offended.

Great post, Emily!

Anonymous said...

I think what Steve was trying to say was that is seems grossly unfair to condemn, say the Native Americans, hundreds of years ago becuase there was no way possible for them to have received the story of "redemption". Same true for millions of other people who could not possibly be reached by any means (before airplanes and newspaper etc). So all those people go to hell simply because they had never heard the story. Seems very wrong to me as well.

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