Extend a Hand, Not a Stiff-Arm

21 08 2014

When you hear the term “social media,” what do you do? Some of you might become a bit giddy when you start thinking about that latest cat video you saw. Others become emotional because you long to see just one more picture of your grandkids. A few, after receiving more “likes” than anticipated, don’t know if you’re elated or gassy. There are even some of you (and ironically, you’re reading this post) whose nostrils flare and eyes widen as you believe social media indicates the decline of the human race.

I’ve seen similar responses to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. At first, folks were excited, if not intrigued. “What’s this all about? What is ALS? Is that what Lou Gehrig had?” Many began to look forward to the next hilarious video. Celebrities, from Hollywood to professional sports, have gotten in on the action. It seems like a good thing. Either you donate to ALS research or you have a bucket of ice cold water dumped on your head. Many people, I presume, just go ahead and do both. Do a search for the numbers and you’ll find that ALSA.org has raised more money in the last few weeks than all of last year. Mission accomplished! Yay! Everybody get a bucket and a checkbook…


There’s more to this story. If at first, many were excited, I’ve actually read some folks who have become irritated. “How many more ice bucket challenges must I see on my news feed? Why do people feel the need to go public with their donations? I don’t like social activism; I want to go back to seeing videos of cats!” Yep, there are those flaring nostrils again. I haven’t polled everyone, but my guess is that families who are struggling with this horrible, debilitating disease are ecstatic about the awareness and fundraising efforts that have come by way of the ice bucket challenge on social media. Soon enough, this fad will fade, the donations will drop, and you can go back to watching cats. But be warned, there will be another challenge. Your news feed will fill up again with some new fad.

Another fad?

Yes, given the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, I predict that someone will begin a new challenge soon enough. And, if the responses to this one are any indication, folks will either embrace it or reject it. However, as a Christian, I want to share with you what I believe is wrong with both embracing and rejecting this ALS Challenge and offer an alternative.

Embrace It

As a Christian, I’m to show compassion to the world. This seems like an easy and fun way to show the love of Jesus. Not only will I donate, but I’ll pour cold water on my head and challenge my friends to do the same. I’ll even wear my “Jesus Saves” t-shirt in my video. What’s wrong with this? After doing a little research, I’ve learned that the ALS Association supports clinical trials using embryonic stem cell research. As someone who believes in the sanctity of life, I cannot support an organization that benefits from abortions.

Reject It

If I can’t join in on this challenge, if I can’t send money to this organization, then I need to distance myself from this by avoiding the Ice Bucket Challenge and the ALS Association. I don’t want to support something I believe to be morally reprehensible. This, in no way, suggests that I don’t care for, am not heartbroken over, people with ALS. I want to help people. I am just conflicted about enabling embryonic stem cell research. What’s wrong with this? People think you’re just being mean. You’re distancing yourself from the culture that you’re supposed to be engaging.

Redeem It

Let me offer a third option. What if there was a way to join in on all the fun, help people in need, share the love of Jesus, and not conflict with your beliefs? Would you be ok with that? As a Christian, I hope you would. How about we redeem the culture? I’ll assume that you can find your own creative way to dump cold water on your head and that you know how to upload a video to social media. Let me help you now with the donation part. If you want to donate to research and care for ALS patients, here are some alternatives:

Team Gleason

John Paul II Medical Research Institute

The Kimberly Kim Foundation 

Let me caution you to do your own research. If you find an issue with one of the organizations that I’ve listed, please let me know. Further, (and this might be the reason for this entire post) don’t look back 5 years from now and say, “Hey! Remember that one time that I donated to that one organization?” Come on Christian! Give to your church, to mission organizations, to other non-profits that carry the banner of Christ and do it regularly. Live generously.




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