In the past I’ve written about the background of a couple of familiar hymns of the Christian faith. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about John Newton’s hymn that we all love, “Amazing Grace.” It’s interesting that Newton once was a slave ship captain, but later became a leader in the antislavery movement in England.
Also in the past, I also wrote a column about the classic hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” written by Horatio Spafford. The background on that hymn is tragic. Spafford’s four daughters were killed when the ship they were on sank on a voyage to England. Spafford’s wife survived. Spafford wrote the words to the hymn on the way to England to meet his wife after the tragic accident.
Those songs are great Christian hymns from our past. But there are also great Christian songs being written today. One of those songs of today, “Do Something,” is a song with a strong message written by contemporary Christian songwriter, Matthew West. And the background of that song is also interesting. West explained on his website the inspiration for the song.
West writes, “I will never forget meeting Andrea. If I were judging a book by its cover, I’d say she looked like a college girl, maybe in a sorority or something, lots of friends, bound to be successful someday. And in a way, that would be a correct assessment. But that is not the whole story. Andrea, a former University of Colorado student had chosen to spend a semester abroad learning micro-financing in Uganda. While there, she happened upon an orphanage in critical condition. The children were being badly neglected and even abused. Her heart broke for these orphans who had no advocate. That’s when this college student decided to do something. She called her parents and said, “I’m not coming home.” She refused to leave these children until something was done to improve the conditions.” “By sheer determination and refusal to give up, Andrea and her sister convinced the Ugandan government to close down that orphanage, which left about forty children with no place to go. The government handed the children to her. Andrea brought this need back to the states with a new vision and desire to create a safe place for these children to grow and learn. Today, Musana (which means “sunshine”) is a thriving orphanage in Iganga, Uganda, housing over one hundred children! Andrea prefers spending most of her time in Uganda, not the U.S. She’s a long way from a sorority house or a college campus. She’s reaching the world, and bringing hope to people, one helpless child at a time. When asked what it was that made her fight for these children she simply said, “I just kept thinking, ‘if I don’t do something, who will?’”
“If I don’t do something, who will?” It’s a penetrating question. In the song. West sings about major problems in the world like, “people living in poverty, children sold into slavery.” Recently, we’ve seen the images on TV of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe from the bloodshed of Syria and the Middle East. We watch and think, like in the song, “God, why don’t you do something?” Maybe God’s response to us is like the one in the song, “I did, I created you.”
Now you and I were probably not created by God to tackle those daunting problems in other parts of the world. (Or maybe we were, who knows?) But there is probably a situation nearby where you have thought or said, “Why doesn’t someone do something?” It may be an elderly person who needs a visit. Or a kid you know that could use some special attention. Or a project that is meeting the needs of the community that is short of manpower or funds. Whatever it is, we know that something needs to be done.
Matthew West’s song is directed to everyone in general, and to Christians in particular. To the church, he writes in the song, “We are the salt of the earth. We are a city on the hill. But we’re never gonna change the world by standing still.” Andrea didn’t stand still when she took over the orphanage in Uganda. Why? Because she had to “Do Something.” What about you and me?
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at [email protected]