In 2009, Shelene Bryan was a successful producer who was just releasing “Like Dandelion Dust” starring Mira Sorvino. But today, she leads Skip1, an organization devoted to fighting poverty through raising money for projects such as building wells and community kitchens, and author of “Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes.”
Why the shift?
A few years ago, Shelene and her husband sponsored two children in Africa for $50 per month. As far as she knew, they were supporting child GBB 8348 and child GBA 8453. Shelene decided to find out if GBB 8348 and GBA 8453 really existed, so she packed up and flew to Uganda to find them. Turns out, they did exist and her money was helping them as the organization claimed. But the trip had an added effect of convincing her that more needed to be done about poverty, so she quit her Hollywood career to do something more. Here, we discuss the way she thinks about poverty and how she is challenging Christians to do more.
RNS: Ron Sider once highlighted the problem of “rich Christians in an age of hunger.” Most Americans are wealthy by global standards and most Americans are Christians. When so much of the world is facing poverty, do you view the wealth of American Christians as a problem?
SB: Our problem is not wealth, but the heart. [tweetable]A life focused on material things will lead you to ruin.[/tweetable] For some reason, having material riches tends to make us apathetic about spiritual things. This was the problem with the church at Laodicea, and Jesus specifically directed John to write a letter to warn them of their apathy.
I believe the gift truly belongs to the giver. Holding onto our wealth with tightly clenched fists prevents God from placing into our hands what he wants. It’s only when we come to God with our hands open, with all our stuff offered up to him, that we can really receive what he has planned for us. The problem is most of us do not really live like that because we like our stuff.