Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Compassionate Heart

On the front page of The San Jose Mercury this morning was a heart wrenching and shocking account of what is currently taking place in Somalia.

Somalia is said to be the most lawless nation in the world today. More chaotic, dangerous, and complicated than Haiti, Iraq, or even Afghanistan. It is virtually impossible for foreigners to travel to Somalia right now due to the unstable government and al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group which controls much of the country.

At the same time, Somalia has devastating needs and is in desperate need of humanitarian aid to provide food and water for victims of a horrible drought. Aid that is unable to reach them.

Somalia borders Ethiopia to the east. According to the UN, there are 4.5 million people in Ethiopia and 3.7 million in Somalia who are in need of humanitarian aid. Those numbers seem intangible to me. 8.2 million people. That'd be like every single person in the San Francisco Bay area on the brink of about a million more. What in the world do you do with that?

I don't know. But I'll tell you what you can't can't let your heart grow cold or indifferent to it. You can't refuse to look at these pictures because they make you feel bad. We can close the newspaper or change the channel or choose a different website when it starts to get to us, but they cannot escape it. Just because it's not OUR reality doesn't mean it's not real.

I was heart broken as I read the article this morning over breakfast. My two healthy boys sat with me, both only eating a couple bites of their breakfast and then throwing the rest away. (For the record, I do not use the ol' "You need to eat your food because there are starving children in Africa" technique to guilt my kids into eating.)

But, you know what I did do? I took Caedmon in my arms and showed him the pictures of these precious children. I explained to him in child-friendly terms what is going on and then we prayed together for Somalia. We prayed that God would raise up men to lead that country in a just way. We prayed that, somehow, humanitarian aid organizations would be able to gain access to the people and provide them food and water. We prayed that God, in His mighty strength, would somehow intervene.

Some people may think it's poor judgement to expose young children to such harsh global realities. I disagree 100%. While discretion and tact are certainly in order, Caedmon & Sammy need to know that not everyone lives like they do. If I want my children to have a compassionate heart for people who are hurting, they need to see people who are hurting. And they need to see my compassionate heart for those people.

When I was a little girl, maybe around 8 years old or so, my dad went on a mission trip to Kenya. He brought back a beautiful coffee table book with brilliant pictures that I was mesmerized by. I remember pouring over that book, soaking in every picture. There were pictures of the exquisite landscape and cultural celebrations, but there were also images of starving children. Their faces were burned into my mind and I believe that is where my love for Africa began.

Look how God used that little seed planted in an 8 year old's heart. My dad could have never known at that time that he would one day have an African grandson. But God works ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him.

I don't really know what to do with this information about Somalia. But I felt compelled to share it with you and I have committed myself to faithful prayer for that country. Perhaps it's something Caedmon and I can pray for together.

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