The Power of One: Making a Difference

If you are like me, and in a country like India with well over a billion people with myriads of existential needs, the missional tasks is colossal and seems impossible. Sure, each of us is but one person–limited, burdened with our own cares and responsibilities. We may feel there is so much to be done and we have so little to give. We’re usually short of all kinds of human resources, money, and time.

I’m most eager for the Gospel of Christ to transform India, yet in spite of the conventions and conferences I speak at, I’m increasingly convinced that lasting change will happen when each Christian determines to consistently reach out to one person at a time. When asked how I pioneered or built Banaswadi Bible Church, I’ve often answered, “One member at a time.” On my office wall is a map of the world with the caption: “Changing the world–one student at a time!” It’s important to start by making a difference to one. Have you heard of the story of “The Starfish Thrower” by an unknown author? It will stir you:

As a man walked a desolate beach one cold grey morning he began to see another figure, far in the distance. Slowly the two approached each other, and he could make out a local boy who kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he hurled things into the ocean.

As the distance between them narrowed, the man could see that the native boy was picking up starfish that had been washed upon the beach and one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water. Puzzled, the man approached the boy and asked what he was doing. “I’m throwing these starfish into the ocean. You see its low tide right now and all these starfish have been washed up n to the shore. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die up here in the scorching heat of the sun and for lack of oxygen.”

The man thought of the futility of the boy’s efforts and seriously inquired: “But, there must be thousands of starfish on this beach and you can’t possible get to all of them. Moreover, this same thing is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?!” The local native boy politely listened, smiled, then he bent down, picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he confidently replied: “Made a difference to that one!”

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Think about it. When each of us leaves the shores of this life on earth, there will be millions of starfish stranded on the beach. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but there isn’t one of us who can’t help change one person’s whole world, one at a time. We can make a difference now and for eternity.

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