When we first saw them we all wanted to cry. I have never in my life seen a flesh and blood child that looked like he did. At 6 months old he was as literally skin and bones as you can be. I have seen bodies at funerals that looked more alive than that child did at that moment. The 8 month old girl was only doing slightly better with the tears to prove that she still have some life giving fluid left in her small malnourished body. They were held, they were prayed for, and we left. As our bodies traveled away, with an extra heart felt prayer lifted up for the blessing God had given us of a healthy baby, our hearts and minds stayed with those two children. What can we do? What would really help?
We went home, rushed to the internet and contacted friends that we thought could help. We got a recipe for a food that should return these children to full strength if they weren't too far gone already. We excitedly started looking for supplies, the very next day. And then some time passed. We found a few supplies and failed to find others. We had to reenter life and our busy schedules. It became a back burner project until one day we pushed through found the rest of the supplies and returned with the food. A mere two weeks after the first visit. A mere two weeks...enough time, enough time for a malnourished child to die. The food was given for the other child, but her tears have already stopped. Will it be enough, will it have enough time to work the miracles that were prayed for?
That is the big story. Despite the many things going on, the exhausting schedule, the "important" work that is being accomplished, including the drilling of a well for a village were women walk hours away to fetch one bucket, the thing that rests on my mind is that small child and the future promise that has been lost. I keep record. A record of the number of times I have had the opportunity to directly relieve the suffering of another...and have failed. Fortunately for my conscience it is still a short list, but for my soul it is already too long. In the last three years it has grown to four.
I pray that you can learn, that this can be a conversation that doesn't have to end with my heart and my mind, but a conversation that can spread.
The first question is this: Do you notice the suffering people around you? Do you notice the outcast, the friendless, the hopeless? Do you notice those who are about to die, physically, emotionally, spiritually?
The second question is what do we do? Do you walk on by thinking that there is nothing you can do? Do you protect yourself and your soul from carrying the guilt by not getting involved? Or do we add to our list the ones we may have failed, while being able to celebrate the ones we didn't?
"Carry each other's burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ." ~ Galatians 6:2
It is a short list, one I will never forget, one that will live with me always, and one that motivates me not to quite, but to keep on. I am sad at my failures, but hopeful with the hope of God...
"I heard a loud voice from the throne say, "Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3, 4 CEB)
Let us be part of the passing away of former things and the birth of something new. That is my prayer.