“An estimated 1 million kids orphaned by quake.”

“An estimated 1 million kids orphaned by quake.” That stunning headline is enough to break your heart, isn’t it? Barely two weeks into the Haitian catastrophe, and the unfolding saga keeps peeling back layer after layer of the immense heartache and suffering that our Caribbean neighbors are enduring.

“The children with no names lay mute in a corner of the General Hospital grounds Tuesday, three among thousands of boys and girls set adrift in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake. ‘Hi, Joe, how are you?’ the American doctor tried, using a pet name the staff had given a boy of about 11. There was no response. ‘Joe,’ ‘Baby Sebastian’ and the girl who didn’t even have a nickname hadn’t spoken or cried since they were brought over the previous 48 hours—by neighbors, passers-by, no one knows who. ‘Sebastian,’ only a week old, was said to have been taken from the arms of his dead mother” (SBTribune 1-27-10).

A CBS Evening News reporter trailed along with one boy, 10 or 11 years old, who was wandering the crowded streets of Port-au-Prince, his parents dead from the quake. “And where do you sleep at night?” The boy led the camera and reporter to a concrete ledge surrounding a broken city fountain. He climbed up onto the ledge, curled his legs under him to show the visitors how he passed the lonely, comfortless nights.

Researchers describe two very real human responses to televised catastrophes. First, there is “frozen emotions”—the mental numbness that eventually steels the heart from responding after viewing repeated portrayals of human suffering. Soon, it’s just more news—and we become unaffected. The second response is “donor fatigue”—a weariness from the barrage of appeals that eventually shuts off the flow of compassionate response. None of us is immune to either reaction.

So what can we do for the orphans, how shall we continue to respond to the sufferers? What did Jesus do? Because of his three and a half years of ministry in Palestine, the world was not suddenly relieved of its wider suffering. The truth is only a relatively small proportion of humanity was affected by Jesus’ compassionate response. Why? Simply because he couldn’t be everywhere. But he could be fully engaged with the suffering that surrounded him. Couldn’t that be our response, too? Yes, we must continue to support the compassionate interventions of disaster response teams like Adventist Development and Relief Agency (www.ADRA.org needs our contributions). But like Jesus we must also become engaged with suffering needs that surround us. The soup kitchen, the street ministries, the Harbor of Hope’s Kids’ Zone at our church plant—just twelve miles up the road are compelling needs waiting for compassionate volunteers. So won’t you pray for Haiti, give to Haiti, but “unfreeze” your emotions and make a difference right by volunteering here at home? After all doesn’t it say somewhere, “Many are called, but a few are frozen”? Then let’s unfreeze for Christ!

Comments

Thank you Pastor Nelson for your words of encouragement and to keep us honest like Anderson Cooper says.

Dear Pastor Dwight, How I look forward to your sermons! Oh would it only be that I could sit in your Bible classes and learn from you! But, alas I am an old woman now with a fading memory, look forward to the day when I can own your dvd's. Only my one son has stayed in the truth and is now studying at AFCO. He tells me he is the "oldest in the class!" LOL. But, the Lord hears my prayers and knows the inner most desires of my heart ... and that is that my eldest son, and the grandchildren of both my son's(also raised in church schools) would have the need to return to Christ in these critical times. It would be such an honor if you would pray for me and my family. I enjoy your blog, and have made up my mind to serve in our street ministries. Who knows? Someone out there may need a "granny." My grandchildren have all love me and have told me not to stop praying for them.. isn't that a blessing!! Thank you again for all the study, thought and love you put into your sermons and your blog. May God continue to richly bless you... Barbara Zane, Everett, Washington

i just want to say thank you for making me feel much better and to know i can do something here and donate there and be o.k. with that ida rose bierman..it wpould be nice if we could do the bags of love program for these children. "it's my very own is the complete name by a lady named mary .she was on 3abn with it and we took it up for children in our area. itsmyveryown.com just an idea.God bless us all saw your progrm today on hell thank you thank God he is love!!!!!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have been thinking the same thing about the needs in Benton Harbor. I have been working in a Community Based Organization located in Benton Harbor for 6 years. WE NEED HELP! I appreciate your awareness on this issue. This is the reason I left my church that I was a member of for 20+ years. Although I love my community so many are blind to the issues and needs of this community. I am tired of money going out to other countries (i know this is important too!)however we need to wake up! Thank you so much for this beautiful message. I listen to your message every week. Jeanne

Dear Pastor, God Bless you and your family, your messages come directly from God... you know? long time ago when I was working as a teacher in one of our colleges in South Mexico, one of my students came to me asking for help, she couldn't finish school, because she needed money. All she needed was 50 dlls and I didn't have that amount... I cried bitterly because I couldn't help her... And God made me understand then: We can help a lot when we work in USA if we send money to the people in need in those countries. Even 10 dlls is a good amount in Haiti. We all need to give every month as much as possible and God will help us help each other. Thank you for your messages. Let's keep praying. God is coming very soon. Esther.

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