The images and stories of the last week in Guatemala may have overwhelmed your heart.
A large dump in Guatemala where children often scrounge for food or items to sell. (photo: Michele Lyn)
“I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. His improved weight of 10 pounds is 10 ounces less than my first son’s birth weight.”
The reality that is most of the world’s to bear is often too much for our Americanized selves to handle.
I’m starting to believe that it’s not that we don’t care that people are hungry and suffering. The humanity in us, even if buried deep down beneath the stuff that crowds our lives and hearts, cares, hurts, cries, breaks.
I think the disconnect happens when we see needs so great, so grave, so foreign, so beyond our own reality, that the same humanity that tells us it’s wrong tells us we cannot possibly bear the weight of the hurt. And that’s when it is far easier to turn off the TV or close the browser or switch the station than to really watch. To really see.
In May 2009, I wrote a post about one of the most life changing books I’ve ever read, There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene. It gives an in-depth, journalistic look at the AIDS epidemic and subsequent orphan crisis in Africa, and specifically in Ethiopia. Greene quotes an estimated 21 million dead from the crisis. She writes:
“Human beings are not wired to absorb twelve million or eighteen million or twenty-five million bits of information; our protohuman ancestors never had to contemplate more than about ten or twenty of anything…numbers with so many zeros are hard to fathom…hats off to anyone who can begin to imagine what this really looks like, what this means.
Who was going to raise twelve million children? That’s what I suddenly wanted to know…
Who was teaching twelve million children how to swim?
Who was signing twelve million permission slips for school field trips?
Who packed twelve million school lunches?
Who cheered at twelve million soccer games? (That sounded like our weekends).
Who was going to buy twelve million pairs of sneakers that light up when you jump?
Twelve million pairs of socks?
Who will tell twelve million bedtime stories?
Who will quiz twelve million children on Thursday night for their Friday-morning spelling tests?
Twelve million trips to the dentist?
Twelve million birthday parties?
Who will wake in the night in response to eighteen million nightmares?
Who will offer grief counseling to twelve, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-six million children?
Who will help them avoid lives of servitude or prostitution?
Who will pass on to them the traditions of culture and religion, of history and government, of craft and profession?
Who will help them grow up, choose the right person to marry, find work, and learn to parent their own children?
Well, as it turns out, no one. Or very few.”
(There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Country’s Children, pages 20-23)
My time in Guatemala gave me a small glimpse of how most of the world lives. It’s not a few people. It’s not a small portion of the world. It’s the majority of the world. WE are the minority. And by we, I mean any of us who made $1500 or more last year, own a car (or just have access to any reliable transportation), and live in an apartment or house. We are the upper 10% of the world’s richest people. RICH.
This 3 week old baby receives medical care from the Rescue staff. His mother died one week after giving birth to him. By his side, his widowed father.
When we hear or read or see pain and hunger and suffering so beyond our norm, it’s inconceivable. As Greene says, we are simply not wired to process millions of bits of information, to conceive what that looks like. So many times I have thought about all the hurt, aware, but completely frozen. What on earth can I really do?
But we cannot let ourselves get stuck in this place. We cannot believe the lie that there is simply too much hurt, too much pain for us to really make a difference.
When I reflect on how Jesus lived as He walked our earth, I think His heart, even as God himself, must have felt overwhelmed with grief over the hurt around Him. But time and time again, he stopped and entered into the life of one person.
He tells stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin and the lost son. And He said that the angels in heaven rejoice over one lost life, now found.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” – Jesus, Luke 15:4-6
So it is for us. While I saw more poverty and pain in Guatemala than my heart could bear, I also saw story after story after story of lives transformed. One by one.
Children wait in line at a feeding center. Photo: Michele Lyn
Your prayer, your action, your dollar, truly, they matter to one.
It costs an estimated $1,200 to rescue one baby (sometimes, medical costs are much greater, but the average rescue costs $1,200). Any amount you can give counts. My goal is to raise funds for 10 rescues… $12,000. It’s a huge goal, but I believe I can do it with your help. Will you consider giving? Visit my fundraising page to read more or donate
[…to be continued… stop in later this week for real stories of one… one life, one family, one community, transformed]
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