December 2, 2009
Last year around this time, we were recovering from multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. Today, drought is causing even greater widespread suffering. Despite the destruction the hurricanes caused, they at least brought water and people were able to plant and reap a harvest. With only one or two good rains since the spring, people are now facing almost certain famine. Even livestock are dying from the lack of water and food.
Today Manis spoke to some people in the community. As he recounted their stories to me, my heart broke. People are literally starving. One man, a trained mason and brick-layer, begged for any kind of work. “Even if you only pay me $100 (the equivalent of $12 US dollars) it’s fine,” he said, “Just something so I can buy some food for my children.”
Another lady left church so hungry she could hardly see straight. She was too embarrassed to come ask for food so she bought five cookies from a lady up the road – one for each person in her family. That night they were so hungry she sent one of her children to buy a little flour on credit so she could give them a little fried dough before they went to bed.
One of our school children was so hungry that when he received his plate of food he scooped it up with both hands and began shoving it into his mouth.
A pregnant woman, having no money, took her children with her to go buy some food on credit. The merchant, however, refused to sell to her since she already owed her and could not pay. As she turned to leave, her children burst into tears. They knew there would be nothing to eat that day.
As I listened to these stories I thought of all the times I’ve thought I was hungry. Though I may truly have felt some level of hunger, I have never felt it without the slightest hope of eating soon. I have never gone home to absolutely nothing. I have never had to listen to a child cry for food and had nothing to give him. Can you imagine that feeling day after day?
But even in the midst of these difficult times, there is hope in the love of Jesus Christ. On Sunday Manis preached from James 2:14-20. Verses 15-17 say this: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
There was a man watching the situation of the pregnant woman and her children that I described above. As he thought about what Manis had read in church, he realized that he could not let them go away hungry. Calling them back, he paid for some food for them. I believe that is what the love of Christ looks like when it is lived out through us. That man is not wealthy. He himself sometimes struggles to feed his children. But he works for us as gatekeeper for the property and had just been paid for the month. He was willing to share part of his small salary in order to share the love of Christ.
This man has made me examine my own attitude toward giving. Sure, I can give of my excess, I can give of my time, but I have had to ask myself, how many times do I give until it hurts?
As we enter into the Christmas season, may we all give a little thought to how much Christ gave us… so much that it hurt, and consider how we can extend that love to someone else.