My Thoughts as a Christian on the ALS Ice Water Bucket Challenge Fundraiser

by GfG on August 23, 2014 · 8 comments

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The ALS Ice Water Bucket Challenge is sweeping the nation.  I’m sure you have heard of it. 

The gist: a person is challenged by a friend to pour a bucket of ice water over their head and then (or in lieu of, there are scads of evidence support both) donate to the ALS Association for research funding to find a cure.  If you refuse to accept the challenge, you are supposed to give more money, $100.  At the end of your dunking, you challenge a few people.

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The craze is all over the place and has raised over thirty MILLION dollars for ALS research.  Unbelievable.  

Do I like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?  Yes!  And no.  

Do I want others do to it?  Yes!  And I’ll give you reasons. 

Nathanael King is a blogger I’ve seen referenced against the idea of the challenge.  

He thinks it is inappropriate for him, as a Christian, to participate and gives his reasons.  I’ve also heard one other argument against the challenge that he didn’t state.

I disagree with all of them and here are my reasons.  I think Christians can participate and I’d sure like them to.

1) Raising awareness for the need for ALS research is fantastic. It is rarely news and this disease not only has no cure, but no treatment. None. There is nothing to slow it down.  

People have heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but only in name.  They didn’t know what it really is or what it does.  The first step in getting necessary funds is raising awareness.   Because of the bucket challenge, they’ve learned. 

2) Social media activism CAN do things. There are many social media gigs that don’t hardly anything, but this is different. It has not only raised awareness for a little known disease, but it has raised millions of dollars. I also think this little activism can spark more active activism. It’s a start and it’s something.

3) Families of those who have suffered from ALS love this ruckus. They want help.They want this disease eradicated.  Quickly.  They don’t want others to suffer as their loved ones and their families have. That REQUIRES research and scientific action and they know it.  Both of those require money, plain and simple.

Money comes when people care and want an answer.

4) You can ear mark your donation and say NOT for embryonic stem cell research. Not only does this get money to the people who are focusing on this study, BUT it tells them that NOT using embryonic stem cells matters to many.

Instead of just ignoring the ALSA, tell them what you want and put your money where your mouth is. If more people told them, “Yes, we want to help, but not that way and here is designated money”, they’ll take notice.  

Wouldn’t it be amazing if millions of those dollars given were specifically to be used in the areas that DON”T use embryonic stem cells?!  Yes, it would not only because of the money but because of what that money says.

5) The “wasting water is bad witness” argument holds no water with me.  Those who say pouring a bucket of water is terrible witness to those who have no water are choosing to be offended by something that isn’t offensive, really. Races/walks/other fundraisers use and flaunt all kinds of things we have here that others don’t have. The water is being used for something fun AND helpful AND issue raising.  

6) When you take your bucket challenge, you can TELL OTHERS why you are giving where you are. Let them know you care and that you want to help AND you’re going to stick by the sanctity of life and refuse to give for embryonic stem cell. When you share your video, you have a platform. Use it!  Use it for God’s glory!  We have an opportunity here to advocate for pro life research!  Let’s not squander it. 

7) There are other ways to help. Give to a family. Give to Hospice (the agency that most blesses ALS patients at the end of their life).   Give to ministries helping those with ALS, locally.   Let’s not take a stand by sitting this out.  

8) You can give to a different hospital/research center. While the “official” ALS Water Bucket Challenge says to give to ALSA, this isn’t law.  It’s about helping find a cure for ALS.  If you don’t want to ear mark your donation, don’t ignore something that could do a lot of good because you don’t like ALSA.  Give to another research center: the John Paul Medical Research Facility, a research center that never uses embryonic stem cell research.   ETA:  You could also give to the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy or the ALS Therapy Development Institute or Team Gleason.  

9) Christians need to engage.  I think when we as Christians refuse to participate in something in which we could really have a voice, help others, recognize that a society is trying to help others, and make a difference… we shoot ourselves and our witness in the foot by coming across high and mighty. Especially when we have options to help and honor the LORD.

Sometimes there are either/or situations, but this isn’t one of them.

So, give to help ALS research!  Just give in a way that honors the LORD!

And if you are new around here and don’t know, I’ve watched ALS attack and take a life.  My mama died from complications related to ALS six and a half years ago.  It was horrible.

She was diagnosed Christmas of 2006 and she died January 25, 2008.  Thirteen months.  She was gone in thirteen months.

It started with slurred speech.  She was a RN, so she knew something was wrong.  

I’ll never forget her telling me Christmas Eve.  I was sitting on the floor at her feet. I leaned in to hear what she was telling me from the big poofy chair.  She said, “They think it is ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, sweetie.”  Tears streamed down her face.

I was shocked.  I didn’t know a single thing about Lou Gehrig’s Disease, so I said, “It’s going to be ok.  We will handle it.”  I mean, it wasn’t cancer, so it couldn’t be that bad.

The knowing, wizened, heart broken look she gave me is forever etched in my mind.  She knew. I didn’t.

me and mom 4th 07 WEB

Our first 4th of July after the diagnosis, our last together.

I didn’t know that within a month, she’d have to quit her job.   I didn’t know that within six months, she’d have a feeding tube straight to her stomach.  

I didn’t know that she would not be able to walk on the beach when we went eight months later.   I didn’t know that she wouldn’t be able to walk alone before nine months were up.  That she’d have to have a portable bathroom seat in the living room within eleven months because she couldn’t walk far.

I didn’t know that the next Christmas she wouldn’t be able to talk at all to me or communicate what she wanted to buy for Papalou, despite having a MagnaDoodle for writing on.   I didn’t know that the signs of the need for Hospice would descend on our lives within a year.

I didn’t know that within thirteen months, I’d ask the LORD to take her before it go worse and she was fully gone, while her body stayed here.  And I’d be wearing her shoes. 

To say it was all like a bucket of ice cold water thrown on me wouldn’t be inaccurate.  

No.  I didn’t know any of that, but she did.  She was proactive and amazing as her body shut down and she was lost inside it.  I will always be impressed with her stunning sense of humor and pride as she faced such a horrid disease.

And I know she would want others to advocate for finding a cure or at least a treatment for this cruel disease.

And she’d want you to voice your convictions while doing so.

And she’d want you to put some money behind it too.

So, accept the ALS Bucket Challenge.  Do it to God’s glory!

{giveaway for two amazing books still open… click here to enter!}

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