Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest Post: "Passions of the Heart"

Passionate.  What does it mean to be truly passionate about something? defines passionate as “compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.”  The older I get the more often I find myself using this word.  I think it is because over time I have seen how the things we are passionate about can take us places in life and guide us where we need to be… where God wants us to be.  The key is being open to the stirrings in our hearts; the passions that God places there pushing us toward doing His work in this world. 
The journey God has taken me on has been led by various passions over time.  Growing up on a National Audubon Society Sanctuary instilled a deep passion in me for nature conservation and the environment.  This has played out in many ways throughout my life.  A few years after I had children I was searching for my passion; I needed something to fill my heart with satisfaction beyond motherhood.  Then one evening God opened a door for me that changed my life and my family’s life.  We were having supper with a group of couples from Sardis, and Ashley Meeks introduced me to Heather Ditillo, her friend who had just accepted a job with an organization called BeadforLife.  Heather told me all about the organization and how it empowers impoverished women in Uganda to start their own businesses.  She showed me the beautiful recycled paper bead jewelry that the organization sells for the women and told me stories about services they provide for the women and children in Uganda.  I was hooked!  She pushed all my passion buttons and my heart was flush with excitement to get involved.  Fast forward six years and I am a Community Partner volunteer with BeadforLIfe.  I have a full inventory of the jewelry and other items the women make in Uganda that I sell for them, and, I get to do public speaking for them; educating people about the plight of people living in the Third World.  

Until last May I thought I knew what life was like for these women because I had read articles, I had seen videos and pictures, heard heartbreaking stories and I knew my facts and figures; 85% of people on the planet live in developing countries.  Of the 15% living in the First World only 2% live like we do without major financial concerns.  Little did I know God had a plan to open my eyes far beyond my expectations when He put another life changing event in my lap.

Last May I had the opportunity to go to Uganda with other BeadforLife Community Partners.  I spent 16 days traveling throughout the country seeing their programs in place.  We visited women who live in slums in Kampala, women who live in rural agricultural areas, and women in Northern Uganda who collect shea nuts for shea body products. We also visited the beautiful young girls who are sponsored to go to school by BeadforLife, as well as an orphanage in Kampala.

These are some of the talented orphans at M-Lisada orphanage in Kampala. M-Lisada stands for Music, Life Skills And Destitution Alleviation. All of the children there are taught a performance art including band, African dance and acrobatics.  

Arriving in the Third World is shocking.  The sheer mass of people alone is overwhelming.  There are people and children all over this country.  Overpopulation is just a word in the first world but it is a condition in developing nations that hits you hard when you arrive.  Everything we take for granted they live without: electricity, clean indoor running water, grocery stores, transportation, free education, security, healthcare… our worlds are so vastly different it is hard to believe we all live on the same planet.  They live on what they and their neighbors can grow or raise.  Everyone struggles.   The measure of success is how much, or how little, you have to struggle.  If you are lucky enough to have a garden and a house, you and your children and their children will be much better off than most families in Uganda.  However, nobody has an indoor kitchen or an indoor bathroom and the houses are probably about the size of your dining room.  Possessions are not of importance, just the basics to survive; a cooking pot that can be balanced on three rocks outside with room to build a fire underneath, some bowls (no need for spoons or forks, everyone eats with their fingers), a mat to put on the floor to sit and sleep on, and maybe, if you are lucky, a change of clothes.  In that respect I found Africa to be simple and liberating, they are not bound to their possessions like we are.  

Despite all of this, these people were joyful.  Everyone we met sang and danced through their struggles together and found joy in their relationships with each other and in their strong relationship with God.  By the end of the trip I realized that our First World clutter (devices, television, Facebook, maintaining our possessions, the pursuit of more possessions, etc.) interferes in our relationship with God. They were proud to show us their businesses, houses crops etc.  I drove and walked great distances, sometimes through slums, to see pigs, corn fields, rice patties, gardens, goats and houses.  This is their wealth and the possessions they are proud to show off.  I heard so many amazing stories of strife that moved me, including a woman, Mary’s account of being abducted and tortured three times by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony’s soldiers) when she was seven months pregnant.  Her entire experience was just heartbreaking, unimaginable, and so hard to listen to, and yet when we left her she had us stand in a circle with her and she prayed for us.  She prayed that God would keep us safe, take care of us and our families and grant us long healthy lives.  This was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had.

Finally it was time to come home.  I had been lectured about “re-entry”.  Mark, the leader of our trip, prepared us for how difficult it would be to return.  He told us about the flood of emotions we would feel and to be patient with your family and friends who simply would not understand what you had seen and experienced.   To say this trip changed my life is an understatement.  Once your eyes have been opened to what life is like in a developing nation, you never look at the First World the same again.  I came back incredibly grateful for what I have and with a greater sense of responsibility for helping those I left behind.  God opened my eyes and ignited my passion beyond what I ever thought possible through this trip. 
At first I felt guilty for having my big house and big car, I was disgusted by the amount of possessions we have and I was so thankful for the little things I took for granted before I left: electricity, clean running water, indoor plumbing, the internet, access to food, education and healthcare.  These are the luxuries that 85% of the people on the planet long for, desperately need or are dying because they don’t have, and we consider it our right to have them.  

Here is what I hope you will take away from this blog post:  Step back and put your life in perspective. Compare yourself to the people in underdeveloped nations and to those living in poverty here in the First World.   Think about where you are on this planet instead of how you compare to your neighbors in South Charlotte.  Put your life next to someone who has no electricity, no running water or indoor plumbing, no local grocery store, no job or job prospect, no access to healthcare, no transportation, and no education.  Most of the people in our world live this way.  We are the minority on this planet which gives us incredible power that most of us take for granted, simply because we were lucky enough to be born here.  We have a voice.  We are listened to.  My friends in Uganda know that and see us as powerful because of our First World status.  One person’s voice in the First World can change the course of hundreds of people’s lives in the Third World.  God needs us to use this voice and this energy to help those less fortunate.  Don’t waste your power- you are one of the very few people on the planet who has it.  

And finally, be open to the passions that God stirs in your soul throughout the different seasons in your life.  Take note of what First World clutter is taking up your energy, take a break from it and be still.  Pay attention to Him pulling you in the direction of your heart.  In my experience, the rewards are far greater than the costs.  

To get in touch with Elizabeth or for more information about BeadforLife, you can email her at or visit

This is Sharon.  She is one of the girls in BeadForLife's Girls Education program.  All of the girls in the program have extremely high test scores, but their families are living in extreme poverty and can't afford to send their daughters to school. After meeting this amazing young woman we were fortunate to became her sponsors. 

Elizabeth Campbell has been a member of Sardis for 10 years.  She and her husband Mitch are currently on the leadership team for the Contemporary Christian Issues Class.  Elizabeth has served as a Deacon and on several committees at Sardis.  They have two children, Ethan (11) and Grace (9). She loves to travel, read, exercise, and spend time with family and friends. 


  1. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a beautiful piece, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for the caring and the perspective that it shows.

  3. Wow!!! It's so refreshing to hear that someone puts the lives of others before themselves. Thanks for encouraging us to answer the call when God calls. God bless you and your family for walking the walk.Good luck with this project. LGC