37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40 And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
I have been thinking about the pivotal moments in my life when my thinking about the world was drastically and permanently changed. The first time I can really remember was when I was in high school and I read Night by Eli Wiesel. I knew about the Holocaust, of course, but after reading this book, among others, I KNEW. It was this knowing that changed me. I could no longer be the same person that I was before. My thinking about the world, human nature, and God was profoundly affected.
The second time, I have mentioned in this blog previously. When I watched the beheading of an American by Islamic terrorists, my KNOWING grew again. I would never view the world the same again.
This enlarging happened again this week when I read There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. It is hard to put this book into a nutshell, but basically it is the story of AIDS, Ethiopia, and an ordinary woman's fight to save a few. I knew about AIDS in Africa, of course. Especially in the last few years, the issue is getting more and more attention on the world stage. Literally. The big 8 concerts were in response to it, the Red campaign is trying to help, and I just read this week about Rick Warren's church working on a big program.
But, you see, I did not KNOW. Now I do and I will never be the same, I hope. It is hard to put into words how something impacts your very innermost being, and yet this book did. Not the book, actually, but what the book showed me. The plight of the people in Ethiopia and all over Africa, is- well, there are not words. One only has to look into the faces of the children affected and you will understand. It is not my purpose here to explain the issue, yet, or what the book covers, but I feel that I must call attention to this issue in any way I can.
I was thinking last night, that if I had found out that the Holocaust was happening RIGHT NOW, what would I do? Would I feel very sad and even cry? Would I tell my close friends, and us all mourn over a cup of coffee? Or would ACT? I hope that I would do everything I could to make a difference, to help and to save. This is what we are facing right now- travesty on a scale that is too enormous to comprehend. Of course, the issues are different, but in some ways the same. There is no evil empire killing the innocent and filling the world with hatred (well, ok, there is, but it is Islam, not Nazism), but there are millions of people dying horrific deaths, millions of children living with no hope except to die themselves very soon, and it is in our lifetime. We must act.
The problem is, however, that AIDS is not the real problem. It is the absence of salvation. I was so profoundly moved by the stories of the few lucky children that were "saved" into the loving arms of a family. But what were they saved into? The scourge of disease, famine, and war is terrible, but living with no hope for eternity is worse- unbearably worse. I want to change the world; I want to save the children; I want to heal the people. But so did Jesus. He did offer them healing of their bodies, and even food. But more importantly, He offered them TRUE hope. One that does not fade with the reality of death. One that can make a dying person smile with hope for the future. No AIDS program can offer this, nor can adoption. But we must still do these things. We must just offer the real healing and hope of Jesus foremost.
So what am I going to do? Well, for starters, adopt as many children as I can. Next, pray for those that are helping, healing, and teaching about Jesus. But what else? This I do not know. But I will be seeking God's face on this issue with my whole heart. Will I move to Africa and run a hospice or orphanage? Or will I just raise the ones I can and sacrifice so that I can give to organizations like Samaritan's Hope of Gospel for Asia- people that are doing exactly what I am talking about? I do not yet know. But I can tell you- I will be beginning AT LEAST these steps today. God help us.