The image to the right is one of Time Magazine’s “Photos of 2011.” It is a picture of a young mother kissing her malnourished seven-month-old baby in Somalia, Africa. The caption says: “The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days due to famine and drought.” I don’t know what changed in my heart since becoming a father, but these types of images now crush my spirit and bring tears to my eyes. I think, “What if this was my little Sophia?” and “How can this type of situation exist in our world?” My heart breaks as I think of the plight of millions of children around the globe who know pain, loss, abuse, hatred and hunger. I think of all the babies who have never known the touch of their parent. Who will hold them? And I think of the parents who can’t provide food for their own crying infants. Can you imagine what it must be like to stare at your hungry child and know that there is nothing you can do to remedy the situation? Hopelessness. You can only sit and watch as your own child wastes away before your eyes. If it was my daughter who was dying of starvation, I would hope that someone would come to my aid...that someone, somewhere, would hear and care and act and save.
I write this the day after Christmas...the day when millions of us Americans eat platefuls of food larger than our stomachs can handle, and then scrape what’s left into the trash can. Right now, on my kitchen counter I have a basket of hand baked desserts that I can’t even eat. I’m contemplating throwing them away. We are so wasteful! And food is only half of the Christmas story...each year Americans spend billions of dollars on gifts. This year, on Black Friday alone, American’s spent fifty-one billion dollars. That’s $51,000,000,000! On what? iPads, and Kindles, and sweaters and scarves that we’ll wear once, or twice, or immediately drop off at he Good Will. And as we sit in our cozy living rooms, playing with our new toys, kids are dying because they have nothing to eat.
God would want us to do something. The book of James says the “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” God Himself is said to be a Father for the fatherless (Ps 68:5) and even within the Christmas story we find Joseph caring for a baby who was not his own.
I know God wants us to do something. He has put this burden on both Liliya’s and my heart. We both have a deep desire to care for the unloved children of the world. It has exponentially amplified after the birth of our own daughter, Sophia. We don’t know exactly what that means right now, or how it’s all going to play out...but we know God wants us to do something. Maybe He wants us to move to Africa and open an orphanage...and if so...we’re more than willing. Maybe he wants me to pastor a church that has orphan care in it's DNA...(wouldn't it be awesome if a church had the goal of starting one orphanage in Africa per year and spent much of it's resources toward accomplishing that goal and training and sending it's parishioners?!) Maybe He wants us to adopt a child from one of these impoverished countries. Maybe He wants us to spend less and give more. It’s obviously going to play out in different ways for different people, but whatever we do, each of us who calls Christ our Lord must do something to stand on behalf of the hungry and hurting children of the world. It is Christ’s command! And surely you would hope that someone, somewhere would hear, and care, and act if it was your child in the picture.