Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let my heart be broken...

I don't even know where to start and how to fit what I saw in Guatemala into one post. I didn't learn anything in Guatemala that I didn't already know somewhere in my heart, but to
see firsthand the pain and suffering that we saw changed me. And honestly, the emotion that I felt the most there was anger. Of course, there was lots of sadness, grief, and tears, but more than anything I was really angry.

The first orphanage that we visited was home to 14 special needs kids. It is truly a happy place. The kids are well taken care of, have family style meals, and lots of play time. It felt like a home. So, why am I angry? I am angry because ONE woman, Maureen, runs that orphanage by herself. Sure, she has hired Guatemalan nannies to help her, but truly she is doing it alone. Maureen said that Christians are the last people who have showed up to help her, both physically and financially. She is desperate for someone to walk alongside her in raising these children and giving them a home. We, as Christ followers, should be knocking down her door to serve those kids.
The second orphanage that we visited is really a hospital. Honestly, it is a hopeless place. These children are kept drugged up and in cages because they simply do not have the staff or resources to take care of them. Their screams when it was time to go back into their cages still haunt me. The best case scenario for these children are that they live the rest of their lives in that hospital. The worst case scenario is that they end up back on the streets to be raped and starved. I don't think that I have to explain why I walked away very angry from this place.

My anger is and never was directed at God. Why? Because He has a plan to end pain and suffering. One day completely when Jesus returns and His kingdom is on earth. But for now, WE are His plan. We are here on earth ordained by God to relieve the pain and suffering of God's people. So, I am angry at us, because we are failing miserably.

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?
declares the Lord."
Jeremiah 22:16

I'm angry at myself and I'm angry at those of us who follow Jesus. I'm angry that we sit in America and live our comfortable lives while people are truly suffering throughout the world. I'm angry that children are drugged up and put in cages to live all the days of their lives simply because they cannot walk. I'm angry that one woman is running an orphanage completely by herself. I'm angry that we (Christ followers) aren't doing enough about it. I know that I've posted on this verse before, but it kept running through my mind when I was in the orphanages.

Matthew 25: 37-45

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Jesus is pretty clear in these verses. When we do not take care of the "least of these" Jesus wants nothing to do with us. "Depart from me," He says. Every kid that I saw in those orphanages was Jesus. Christ in His most distressing disguise. And I am grieved to say that we (Christ followers) are not feeding Jesus, we are caging Jesus up, we are denying Jesus basic human rights.

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13

Now, am I saying that we are all called to sell everything that we own and move to a third world country and be missionaries? Of course not. But there is far too stark of a contrast between our reality and these kids' reality. We, as Christians in America, have been sold a theology that says if we follow Jesus we can live a comfortable and safe life. It's just not true. Look at Jesus' life. Would comfortable and safe even begin to describe His life? And yet, He is the One that we claim to follow. Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S., writes:

"Jesus healed the sick, loved the poor, touched the leper, stood up for the down-and-out, forgave the sinner, condemned the religious hypocrites, dined with prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors, challenged the wealthy and powerful, fought for justice for the oppressed, defied His culture, renounced materialism, demonstrated that greatness is found in serving- and then died that others might live. These actions- performed by one man- changed the world.

These same actions, when carried out by His followers, still change the world today."

This post may make some people unhappy with me. I'm ok with that. I'm pointing the finger at myself as much as at anyone else. I would say that I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't think that's the truth.

Friends, the bottom line is this:

I have never felt closer to the heart of God then when I was spoon feeding a boy about Ford's age as he lay in his cage with his broken body. His smile was beautiful. Christ in His most distressing disguise. I just couldn't believe that we allow this to happen. I prayed that we, as Christ followers in America, will experience an awakening. That we will beg God for forgiveness for our apathy and neglect and excuses. And that we will truly become His hands and feet on this earth.

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."


Kristin Vanzant said...

I gave Robby extra tickles and love for you today... his laugh and smile are priceless.

Love you!

Dale said...

Here, here! Thanks for sharing. Though it's difficult for us to be exposed to such pain and tragedy . . . and inexplicable hope, it is imperative to our need to experience the "fellowship of Christ's sufferings", that is his passion. Feeling that grieving heart of Jesus is beautiful, to respond as he would is redemption.

Breanne said...

Keep speakin' truth. We need more of it and I'm so grateful for a trip like that. It ruins you in the best possible way and fuels you to do more. I love that. It also inspires me to find a job that really will meet the needs of the poor and oppressed, even if it's in our own backyard. Let's do this!

alyssa said...

how can people help? i don't see that in your post. do they need money so they can hire staff? maybe a program set up where americans (and others) can come volunteer for a year or so. what about a website that people can donate on and learn more?