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Snapshot: Useful « International Aid Services America

Local workers, made useful with your help continues to create hope for a multitude.

Every holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, to the dismay of my children, you will find me watching Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life at least once. “Why?” my kids ask. “You’ve memorized that movie years ago!” And it’s true. Nothing George Bailey does surprises me any longer. I can practically recite each line. I still cringe when Mr. Potter takes the money and my heart still swells in the last scene.

It’s a Wonderful Life consistently tops the charts of the most-watched seasonal movies. Why? I believe this classic film reinforces the idea that I am useful, my life matters, and my small contribution to this great big globe is important.

To be sure, the desire to feel loved, needed, and useful are basic human traits, though perhaps some of us are more driven by the need to feel like we’ve made a lasting difference with our lives. Personally, the aspiration to make a difference with my life is compelling. And here is the rub: when I look at the rise in poverty in the world, when I look at so much global unmet need, sometimes it feels like not much progress has been made at all. Am I making a difference? Are we making a difference?

I could give you facts and statistics to assure you we are. I know that IAS has drilled more than 5,000 fresh water wells in Africa and has equipped thousands to support themselves and their families through business training across Africa. Surely we can find it encouraging that we’ve accomplished so much in just a handful of years?

But the good feelings that come with these statistics are short-lived in the face of the remaining, overwhelming need. What I’ve come to realize is that it is the individual faces — the individual lives that have crossed my path — that are the most meaningful to me.

For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus
to do good works, which God prepared
in advance for us to do.”


I think the same is likely true for all of us. It’s really not about saving the world or winning a Nobel Prize; it’s about making a difference every day with the individual people in our lives. It’s one life at a time, one story at a time. It’s a child sponsorship magnet on the refrigerator, or a small donation to a high school student’s mission trip. And it’s your monthly contribution to IAS so that a child you have never met will have fresh, clean water to drink.

For those you’ve helped, being useful no longer means spending hours every day, walking long distances and fetching water for the family.

George Bailey got to see how the world would have been without him. Unfortunately, we don’t have that same opportunity. But faith allows us to see what is not seen, and to recognize that fruit is still produced whether or not we are a witness to the event.

I am thankful for your value in the Kingdom of God. And thank you for your partnership with IAS, as we work together to make a difference in this world — one life at a time.


Douglas Mann
President, IAS America



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