9 October 2008
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a poor shepherd boy

slaying a trained warrior to save a kingdom. The story goes something like this…

The kingdom of Israel was in combat against a tribe of people called the Philistines. The two sides were camped across from each other in preparation for battle. As often happened in those days, a champion from the Philistine side came out to the center and challenged any man from the Israeli army to a fight to the death. Whichever man lost would effectively enslave his people to the other side, but the idea was to prevent a massive loss of life on both sides. The Philistine champion was a long-time veteran of combat named Goliath. Goliath stood nine feet tall and towered above men on both sides. Each day as the sun rose, he would come out alone to the center of the valley between the two armies and mock Israel – challenging any man among them to mortal combat…and every day, the Israelites would cower in fear – desperately trying to find a man – any man – to rise to the challenge and save their kingdom.

One day, a young boy named David was in the Israeli camp trying to find his brothers. David was a shepherd who tended his father’s sheep on their farm. His father had sent him to bring food and supplies to his three older brothers in the Israeli army, and to bring back word to his father that the brothers were doing OK. As David moved through the camp searching for his brothers early that morning, he heard a lot of commotion near the Israeli front lines as the sun rose over the mountains. He left his supplies and ventured over to see what was going on. As he had the last 39 days straight, Goliath came to the center of the valley to challenge and mock the Israeli army. A dead stillness set in. David could hear the wind whistling through the valley to meet the rising sun as the entire Israeli army stood frozen and silent in fear. There, before the army, stood the most horrifying image David had ever seen. The man, Goliath was a monstrous warrior clad in bronze armor from head to foot. He stood alone in the valley – his voice echoing off the ridgeline on both sides of the valley.

David also stood in awestruck silence and terror as he watched the man move up and down the valley. He was only a kid – a shepherd who watched his dad’s sheep. He had never seen combat – let alone a terrifying image like the bronze-covered giant below. But slowly, something began to awaken in David. A slow burning anger began to rise in his throat. Why was no one standing up to this man and stepping forward? Did Israel have no champion that could best him? No one in that whole army of thousands of trained warriors that was brave enough to step forward and save his people? No one that would step up and say, “Enough…it is time to end this. The injustice and slavery imposed by the Philistine people must end.”

“Someone must go,” he thought. “Someone must stand in that valley across from that man and tell him that his tyranny is over.” David looked down at his small hands and arms. He looked at the pouch of smooth stones on his belt and the sling wrapped across his shoulder. “But I can’t do it – all I have is this pathetic sling and a few rocks that I use to chase away wild dogs from my father’s sheep.” “Perhaps if I go, then others will follow,” he thought. David took a final look at the raving giant strutting below. He drew in a deep breath and began shaking. He could feel his heart pounding wildly in his chest. David looked to the sky as the first rays of sunlight broke over the horizon, “God, give me the strength to do this. I am small, but I know that you can use even me to end this injustice.” Quietly David stepped forward out from the line of armed men along the Israeli battle line. His lips quivered a bit as he said in a loud voice, “I will go…”

Many of you know this story, and you know what followed. David proceeded to kill the impregnable, trained, giant combat veteran with his little sling and stones. He saved his nation that day bringing an end to the injustice imposed on the land by the Philistine people.

So, why in the world am I opening this blog with an entry like this? I chose to write about this story to illustrate the power of one voice. The power that can come from one person – no matter how humble his or her beginnings…no matter how ill-equipped he or she might feel.

In our world today, one out of every six people lives in horrific, unjust poverty. One in six people will go to bed tonight with only one meal of weak porridge (if they’re lucky) in their stomach. A mother will fall asleep tonight weeping because she had to watch her four year old daughter suffer horribly under the pangs of malaria and then die on her back as she tried to carry the child to the nearest medical services 30km away – and not just one mother tonight but 3,000 mothers…and not just tonight, but every night. The statistics and facts are known by many of us, but these are not just statistics – they are real people. People just like you and I. People who are just as smart, just as capable, and just as hard-working. People with only one difference from you and I…they were born on the other side of the world.

Extreme poverty is a massive Goliath taunting and plaguing our world today – wreaking havoc on one sixth of the world’s population. The problem is so enormous…so overwhelming, that when we hear about the victims, we tend to just sigh in helpless apathy and change the channel, turn the page, or head out the door with our friends and just go about our daily routine. After all, what can one person do?

The time has come to end that sentiment. Our generation is positioned to make the most significant impact in this fight ever. The time has come to put a stake in the ground and step forward to be counted. You and I can end this thing in our lifetime. Never before in the history of the world have we had the resources and technology to be able to effect macro and micro change like we can today. Doctors, farmers, teachers, salesmen, surfers, investment bankers, students, scientists, electricians, plant workers, coal miners, CEOs, pizza delivery boys…all of us. Each one of us can make a difference in this fight. This blog is a call to battle…a call to do just that – to get in the fight. No matter what your station in life, you are uniquely gifted to be able to make a real difference.

I will be writing over the next few months about my journey to get in this fight through an organization called Nuru International. Nuru means “light” in Kiswahili, the language of the people of our pilot project in the Kuria District of Kenya. We started Nuru as a wave of change…a revolution to mobilize our generation to get in the fight. We are small, but with your help, our voice will be heard…and, more importantly, the voices of the millions struggling daily to free themselves from the chains of extreme poverty will be heard. Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because something is stirring in your heart, and you know that you can no longer look away. I encourage you, like David, to quietly step forward today and tell the world… “I will go.” You only live once…be the change you wish to see. Be hope…be light…be nuru.