Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Self-Help Board Meeting Devotions by Nancy Ross, Board Member

This past week a communication from my church – First Presbyterian in Iowa City – came to my email. It read: “Jesus lived it, James taught it, Dolly Parton sang it, ask God to do it….put a little love in your heart.”

It was a great personal reminder, and as I read through the song and reflected on the words, it was apparent it has been the “guiding principle” that created Self Help and has sustained the organization through the years.  

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see it’s getting late
Oh, please don’t hesitate
Put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
You just wait and see

Vern Schield was an inventor and industrialist who founded the Schield Bantam Company in Waverly in the 1940s.  He was a world traveler, humanitarian, and devout Christian concerned about global missions and world hunger. He recognized and responded to the need for improved farming technology as he developed a small and sturdy tractor called the “Self-Helper”, eventually creating the Self-Help Foundation in 1959.

Self-Help today continues teaching, mentoring, and guiding agriculture operations in Nicaragua thus sustaining that original mission with new technology, new seed, and new outcomes.

Another day goes by
And still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart

He heard the children cry….The Man Who Fed the World…a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for averting hunger and famine, Dr. Norman Borlaug.  He is credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives from starvation – more than any other person in history. Loved by millions around the world and recognized as one of the most influential men of the twentieth century.

Today, Self-Help carries that torch as they work in Ghana. They heard the children cry – through their lives of poor nutrition and stunting. A school feeding program with QPM was born and continues to grow today

Take a look around
Let kindness be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. Don’t think love, in order to be genuine, needs to be extraordinary. Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love.”

Self-Help has shared love and smiles as they have created a way to decrease stomach pain and diarrhea…in fact, it has practically disappeared for thousands. Credit the clean water initiative of the past few years in Nicaragua: Self-Help installing chlorination, teaching and mentoring the native population to maintain them.

Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart

Dolly Parton herself knew how to share the love in her heart. She created the Dollywood Foundation establishing the My People Fund (helping victims of the 2016 Great Smokey Mountains wildfires). She was heard to say on more than one occasion, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”

Implementing the Teen Girls Club in Ghana has given them much to smile about as well. They have been set free as they are able to go to school ALL the time with the use new menstrual pads.

You want the world to know
We won’t let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

The recent Nicaraguan political crisis has created unrest and fear. Hatred and distrust fester all around. Life as many knew it was crumbling. Yet Self-Help has stood fast, promising to stand with those who struggle to keep the programs going. It is evident that those on the ground there found it in their hearts to persevere during this chaotic time. And I think it is apparent that Self Help’s moral support and continued financial support has helped that to happen.

And the world will be a better place
You just wait and see

Yes – this message is preaching to the choir. But you know what? We all need affirmation. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” is always welcome praise. As I have come to know you, it is apparent that each of you has put a little love in your heart, and I am equally certain that love has translated into countless actions small and large in your personal lives. The evidence I see here at this table of a little love in your heart is your unflagging support of Self-Help, where together we have done marvelous things.  May it continue to be so.

O God. Help us maintain a little love in our hearts and to manifest that love as we work with and support Self-Help programming.