Saturday, March 10, 2012

And Nobody Cared

I just finished watching The Grapes of Wrath. The movie was made in 1940 with Henry Fonda and based on the award winning novel by John Steinbeck. I remember first reading the book in 11th grade. It was so tender and told the character’s stories so well that I completely missed the Socialist undertones that everyone said were there. I simply saw a family falling apart; hungry, honorable and just looking for a second chance. They needed a little help and then they would be able to overcome the devastating effects of the Great Depression and go on to be a success again. From the comfortable place of  years later I could easily see that outcome, but I am sure for those who lived through it, those were frightening times.  The numbers tell the tale today: 24.9% unemployment. That is one out of every four families… Two and a quarter million children between ages 10 and 18 went to work to help support their families and many many went hungry. I am sure it seemed as if there was nowhere for a family to turn for help. In the movie the mother of the family sums up their experience by saying,
” For a while there it looked like we was beat, good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too. Like we was lost and nobody cared. “
I cannot imagine how it was to live through that. But our country learned a great lesson and many government programs were started in the 1930’s to make sure children didn’t starve and didn’t go without clothing, shoes, and simple hygiene. Laws were passed to ensure that a terrible calamity like the Depression would not take its toll on the most helpless of victims, the children, ever again. Our country like very few others in the world has stood by that ideology ever since.
But I think everyone of us has felt a little of what Ma Joad said when she voiced her sense of loneliness and hurt, of being so helpless and alone in her desolation. Every one of us has had a time of trial when we thought, “There is no one out there who cares about me and my family. There is no one to help.” But the truth is if you are American, there is a lot of help. From the state programs that began 70 years ago to private groups who reach out to families in need.  Help is available.
This is beginning to sound like a Socialist treatise for government programs and big government. Couldn’t be farther from it. This is about defending the call to helping children everywhere.
You see, often whenever I speak about the needs of children from other countries someone somewhere will say, “What about the kids in your own backyard?”
Indeed, what about them.
I don’t often get into it but this time I am going to lay it all out.
First of all, I cannot answer for everyone who works with overseas non profits groups but for me and my family, we do care for the kids in our town. I am the mom whose house is always open to whosoever will. I hosted the big slumber/birthday/Christmas/Easter/Graduation Parties. I drove other kids to church. I bought extra Christmas presents for those who needed them. I have baby sat for single parents for free, I have given away a ton of shoes and clothes. Not bragging, Im just stating a fact. And I bet that 99.9% of everyone who works in Christian ministry to children overseas does the exact same thing. Because we love kids, no matter where they are.
Secondly, we need to help the kids in third world countries because their “Great Depression” has been going on for far too long. Economic distress, wars, famine, persecution. And they have no government to figure out how to protect them. There have been improvements in some places and some governments are trying, but mostly it’s too few too late.
There are children dying.
Every hour of every day.
For no reason other than the fact that we, who have most of the world’s wealth, can’t figure out how to live without a $4 cup of coffee everyday and share some of what we have.
A mother’s heart talking about the emptiness of being in need and feeling abandoned and alone should wrench  your heart, not just because they were true for our own people years ago, but because there is a mother in Rawanda tonight saying the same thing.
And Peru.
And India.
And Honduras.
Lastly, Jesus. This is only for those who have a close, personal, talk every night, kind of relationship with Him.  Why should we care about the children around the world not just at home? Because Jesus said to. 
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 18:10 ESV)
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)
And of course there is His great command to us all,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
So, should you care about Joseph Kony? Yes, he has done unspeakable things to our children. But you know what? You should also care about the children today who will be on the street looking through the trash for something to put in their bellies. And little girls who will be marketed for sale to the highest bidder. And the little boy who is huffing glue to forget about the pain and the cold.  And the nonprofit ministry who is crying out to God to supply the money needed to buy just a little more rice so all the kids can have one more meal tomorrow. And the national pastor who is tucking in five extra little ones who showed up looking for a place to sleep.
I know this country is full of great loving caring people who can and will take care of their own children and have enough left over to bring a few extra into their hearts as well.
There are so many groups who would love your $4 a day. Here are a few of my recommendations.

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