One Starfish at a Time

October 1, 2014 by Fabiola Johnson
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Danny Rafferty, 26, has served as a children's pastor, coaches high school varsity basketball, and volunteers his summers at a camp that serves foster children. That camp is where he originally heard the Starfish Thrower story that has stuck with him.

Rafferty recently came on his first mission trip with his small group from church; This is his experience.

I recently took a one day trip down to Mexico with some friends through an organization called Amor Ministries to help build a home for an elderly couple who moved there from Guadalajara and this is one of the things I learned on my trip and I thought I'd share:

When someone is faced with that much poverty, when they are fully immersed into a situation, when they are actually there; it is impossible to ignore. When we watch TV or go on Facebook and hear about things that are happening in the world, all it takes is one scroll down to take our minds off of the horrible things that are happening all over the world.

I don’t think that we avoid thinking about these things on purpose; I really think that the magnitude is so great that we find ourselves at a loss for answers; we just don’t know how to respond.  We begin to realize that we could work our whole lives and still not even scratch the surface of that darkness that evil has over our world.

So at that point there are only 2 conclusions that we can possibly draw. 1) Hopelessness, or 2) There is hope in eternity.

 As far as this life is concerned there is no hope for evil to be removed from the throne that it occupies over the earth. If we look at the ocean of life the seashore is full of starfish and there are just too many for any amount of human effort to ever be able to throw back into the ocean. It’s really tempting at this point to just curl up in a ball or choose to ignore it and distract ourselves with something else.

But this is where our faith is truly tested, and where I think God opened my eyes to our purpose. If our purpose was to eradicate evil then we are failing miserably;  but on the other hand if our purpose is to simply be used by God and experience his presence through our worship, then our purpose is alive and has hope for a future.

The grief that God has for the world is far beyond any amount of grief we might have.  He is not insensitive to the reality of our world; but at the same time He delights in the light that exists within the lives of all his children amidst the darkness.

Similarly when we look up into the night sky what do we notice? Do we notice the seeming infinite darkness, or do we notice the numerous amounts of stars radiating in their celestial homes.

As for me and my experience in Mexico; it was hard to ignore the vast hills and valleys of poverty; but what stood out even more was the beauty of a small plot of land where we created a home for two very special people. Can we grieve?  Of course, our grief is what drives us to continue to be used by God to create more and more beacons of light on earth; but we must not let our grief have dominance over our joy.

So as for us and this life we must rejoice in the good that does exist, holding fast to it; and trust the God of the universe to bring balance and justice to the darkness in its proper time.

If the seashore is full of starfish and all we do is grieve at the sight, then all those starfish are lost; but if we start picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the ocean, then for those starfish, as few as there might be, there is hope.

You can read the full version of the Star Thrower story by Loren Eisley here.



Topics: Participant Stories

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