I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I had a busy one as we celebrated the coming of God’s gift of light and hope, Jesus Christ, to a dark and lost world. Our church had a special Christmas service with songs, items and short sketches which we held in an auditorium of a nearby college. It was wonderful. We had about 320 people attending and at least 6 made the decision to invite Jesus into their lives that day. A reason for even more rejoicing.
Another highlight for me was watching the CNN Heroes programme on TV on Boxing Day. With Anderson Cooper at the helm, we were feted to the inspirational stories of 10 people who are making a difference in the world and doing their part to turn back the tide of darkness and evil. Yes, evil. For as much as we can rejoice and be inspired by their stories, we are also reminded about the evil that they are confronting – that we all are confronting, and that this evil dwells and emerges from the hearts of men.
We can debate the root causes why drugs, gangs and gratuitous violence has gripped many inner cities and communities but the important point is that kids are being killed and gunned down in the streets. Life is cheap and life is dangerous for kids who have no safe place to go to but to wander the dangerous streets. In many places, the community is just dying as mothers bury their children and lose hope.
Diane Latiker burned against the evil preying on the young and opened up her own home to all kids who wanted a place to go for food, advice, help or just to get off the streets. She started the “Kids off the Block” project and has impacted more than 1,500 kids since 2003.
It is my heartfelt belief that the world’s economic system is inherently flawed and perpetuates a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Efforts to change the status quo have failed because of the greed of a few and the selfishness of many. However, it seems down-right evil when food assistance for the poor requires a 120 day waiting period or that mothers and babies die unnecessarily during childbirth because they are too poor to receive life saving medical care or children going hungry in a country that is generally over-fed (and even wasting food in stupid food related challenges on TV programmes like MTV’s Spring Break; a big pet peeve of mine). That’s greed and selfishness at work.
Thank God for people like Sal Dimicell and Bruno Serato who take it on themselves to help the poor and needy and to feed the children and Robin Lim for the 4,000 mothers and babies she and her team have helped in Bali, Indonesia.
We are depleting our world’s resources, poisoning the very earth, water and air that gives us life. We praise ourselves for our smartness and technology but we are frightfully and criminally incompetent at managing our world. Even with shrinking resources and higher demands, yet we do not have the wisdom not to continue wasting what we have. So in parts of the world, hotels throw out millions of soap bars a year; many only used once. At the same time, millions of children in other parts of the world die from diarrhea and other illnesses each year, for which personal hygiene is a contributing factor and a simple thing like washing their hands regularly with soap can already make a big impact. Derreck Kayongo, himself a former refugee from war-torn Uganda, is bridging the gap between these two worlds through his Global Soap Project, saving lives and fighting the evil of waste.
I had some trouble deciding how to title this section but I am reminded that Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. It is about how we as a society tend to give attention to those that don’t need it (like the Kardashians) and like to look away or forget those who are in need.
There are the widows, spouses and family members who all paid the sacrifice for their country when their loved ones died in military service. There are the football players who are celebrated and feted for their performances on field but forgotten and left to struggle on their own when afflicted by spinal injuries obtained on the field. There are the bread winners in Mexico who became paralysed and have loss their ability to feed their families and also lost their dignity. There are the orphans of Africa whose parents were loss to AIDS. There are the children of Haiti still living in tents now, almost two years after the earthquake. They are all people who need help but the spotlight is not on them, they have been forgotten or worse hidden from view by our collective selfishness and self centeredness. But Taryn Davis (war widows), Eddie Canales (football injuries), Richard St. Denis (Mexican disabled), Amy Stokes (African AIDS orphans) and Patrice Millet (Haiti’s tent children) have not forgotten and challenge us all not to forget these people too.
For the full story, go to CNN Heroes 2011.
Of course, these 10 represent a whole army of people around the world that are putting others first and making a difference. I am ashamed. I had planned to do more voluntary work in 2011 and instead put it on the back-burner. Perhaps this will give me the impetus and inspiration to do it this coming year. My first new year resolution.
In contrast to this uplifting programme, the TV also brought news of more than 40 killed in Nigeria when several churches were targeted with bombs on Christmas Day. A reminder of that evil is rampant and we are in a fight against it, in all its forms.
Maybe you will join me and do something to turn back the darkness in 2012?