The home was like many other children's homes. The impoverished collected there like papers and tumbleweeds blown by the wind collect against a fence. Children slept in the beds, played in the playground, and ate meals that...the best that could be said of them..."contained protein". Funds were scarce, although eventually by visiting the website, sponsorships were available for $80 a month. The parents of the children took their meals at the home, and helped care for the children as payment for their meals.
Flu season came and spread through the home. My friend happened by and saw the children shivering in their beds, under the thin blankets. A quick phone call, and the money was wired. $300 for warm blankets for everyone. Flu season passed.
And then there was a secret.
As I understood the secret, I asked questions and explored means of resolving the issue with the children's welfare as the first priority. In that complex legal and social society, resolutions are not so simple...not like here in the US. I came to understand that there are situations where the fix lies not in the realm of men. So I prayed. And God showed up. He did not resolve it as I would have liked, but show up He did, and accomplished that which only He could do.
I sat in the back seat during the 45 minute ride back to the city, staring out into the darkness. The taxi driver and our host were in the front, jabbering excitedly back and forth over the soccer game being announced on the radio. My friend in the back seat with me was leaning against the opposite door, dozing off in much needed sleep.
Staring out the window, my mind was filled with many thoughts. "How can these things be?" played like a looped tape through my mind, as my worldview underwent upheavals and earthquakes of no small measure. I thought of the woman, shivering in the night cold, thanking us for visiting. I thought of her two young children, fatherless since the bus their father was driving went over a cliff, clinging to her legs and crying. In my innocence I asked the obvious question: "Why are they crying? What's wrong?" "They are hungry. They haven't eaten today." It was almost 5 pm. I took quick stock: Money, yes. Food, no. Well, I could just run down to the local store....
There is no store. There is no place to buy food. No food stand. Indeed were it not for a soup kitchen...which did not open that day...created and maintained by a beneifical ministry out of the United States, the 5,000 or so souls dumped on this patch of sand as a monument to one man's ego would starve to death. Even so, the need....so great..
Someone gave the little ones a package of peanutbutter crackers. They sat at a little table, and the four year old began to dispense the crackers with the two year old. "Un por ti, un por me, un por ti, un por me".
Sitting in the dark, tears running down my face, I let the day work it's will on my life. And work it did. I will never be the same. As long as it is in my power to do good, I will sacrifice any dreams I may have had for those who have no dreams. I do not have to search out ways to do good and to help. They are everywhere. From the woman holding a sign on the side of the road, or the children shivering in the cold, to those who lack the opportunity we so take for granted here in the US, everyone can do something.
I returned to the United States. On the way home from the airport, my wife announced we needed to stop by a grocery store. The day before I was in a Jerusalem Market, in a foreign city. Dirt floor, old women whacking at big chunks of meat with rusty cleavers, blood and flies everywhere... I stood in that stateside grocery store, staring at the stainless steel, polished floors, clean glass, meat cuts neatly arranged in sanitary conditions, and I got angry. I also had an "aha!" moment at the same time. "No wonder people want to come here!" I thought. IT'S SO SHINY!
In my anger, I cursed the opulence, the self-serving lifestyles to which this store caters. No scratching out an existence here.
Then I remembered a statement by the head of World Concern..."When you return from a short term missions trip, it's easy to judge your life. Don't judge it. Donate it."
I had started, at God's direction, a volunteer program at work, whereby we helped a children's home care for the children in it's facility. We contributed money, wrote letters, and got involved. We sent little kid trinkets, and cool stuff for the kitchen staff. We got into their hearts.
How did I find this organization?
I determined that I wanted to do something. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For you are the workmanship of Christ, created to do good works which were prepared before the foundation of the world for you to walk in." So I asked Him; "What are the works you created for me to walk in?" The answer changed my life. God told me to ask around at work and see who would be willing to help sponsor a child. In the type of work this was, we all had cash available. 22 people signed up. One document I drew up was passed around, and was the instigator for the first ever conference on Reactive Attachment Disorder in the capital of that country. This is the type of things that happen when poeple partner with God and pursue the cessation of poverty, abuse, disease, and denigration of others.
So, what I don't get is this blaming of God for evil in the world. Jesus said, "You will have the poor with you always". And indeed we have "the poor". Is this God's fault? He has the power, no doubt, but He chooses to work with us, and work in us to accomplish good in the world, including the relief of poverty and disease. Indeed in the heart of mankind is the drive to eradicate disease and hunger, even as the world is increasingly populated, and we live longer.
1) Is it God's fault that there is disease and hunger in the world?
2) Is it His fault that men do nothing to help those in need?
3) The need is so great. How can anyone accomplish anything?
1) There is the understanding that when satan rebelled against God, his aim was to replace God. The big sin of satan was that he introduced another will into the universe. God alone can create life and sustain life. From our perspective, we think life includes disease and poverty, yet that is not life. That is death. It is the fruit of another will in the Universe. satan has not the power nor the understanding to create and sustain life, and all he can produce is corruption. From this corruption we see failed crops, wickedness of men, impure water, wars and conflicts, all those factors which produce disease and poverty. Selfishness and ego-centrism are also fruits of this corruption, and brings up my second point...
2) Is it God's fault that men do nothing to help those in need? Partner to those who hate others are those who point at a few examples of misuse of funds and use it to justify their failure to be part of any solution. Even if someone thinks we should take care of American issues and that we must take care of the poor and diseased in our own communities, that is better than simply doing nothing. Indeed in the world there are those that do both, one or the other, and it is right and good that we not only help our own, but those around the globe who have no help.
3) The need is indeed great. Greater than any one person. Mother Theresa started out by herself, and her lifetime of effort accomplished great good...yet it was limited in scope. What of Africa? What of Latin America? What of the former Soviet Union? What of the Appalachian Mountain hamlets in the United States? The impoverishment of our inner cities?
It is very easy to get overwhelmed if we look at the need, and that's why tunnel vision is so important. Do what comes to your hand to do. Encourage others to get involved. Perhaps they will develop a passion for that which you cannot do. Could you imagine what we can accomplish if everyone did something? Even a little something?
There are three online sources for researching organizations:
Charity navigator is probably the most useful of the three.
And in that we have tools to educate ourselves about charitable organizations, and indeed see the need, people need to lay off blaming God for disease and poverty in the world. It is ours to fix, and if people aren't involved, they have no right to blame God for their inaction. He gave it to us to fix these things, and in my experience, when we partner with Him, and follow His lead, the fruit of our efforts are greatly increased.
So go do something. Get involved. Yes, it may cost you money. You can always make more, and money accomplishes much good. Surprisingly, there are people who have money, yet don't know where to give it. GET INVOLVED! And stop blaming God. If it's not done, it's our fault.