In response to the global food crisis, Compassion International has begun interventions for the countries we serve.

Last week we received this photo from Haiti, where they have begun distributing food kits for temporary relief to the families who have been hardest hit. These parents are waiting in line to receive their food kit vouchers from the Compassion Haiti staff.

haiti-global-food-crisis

Seeing this photo affected me. Looking at the parents, I was struck by how they look so, forgive me, normal. I know how wretchedly condescending that sounds. No matter how much we intellectually agree that the people in poverty are no different from us, there’s still this little piece of our psyches that can have an us/them mindset.

The problem with this is the disconnect that happens. When we think of “the poor,” we get this hazy picture in our mind of children with bloated bellies and flies in their eyes. And although this picture in our minds is thoroughly pitiable, it’s utterly unrelatable. We don’t think of them as we would our aunts or neighbors or nephews. We think of them as people we feel bad for, even very bad for, but can’t really understand or relate to. We disconnect. An iron wall slams down in our minds separating us from them.

And so it can become easy to glaze our eyes over, move on, and forget. We don’t connect with those individuals suffering as our fellow humans, but as a big crowd of foreigners somewhere else unknown and unseen.

Look at that woman in the yellow dress. Look at the dignity in her face. Look at that man in the blue shirt. His eyes seem to look right through me. I don’t think any amount of intellectual striving will get me to the point where I view the people suffering around the world as I ought. But rather, we need God’s Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds, to help us to view each individual the way He views them.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless.” —Matthew 9:36, NIV

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  1. Rebecca
    Jun 10, 2008
    at 4:34 am

    Great post. I am trying to learn NOT to disconnect.

  2. Jun 10, 2008
    at 6:41 am

    Wonderful post Amber. I appreciate the transparency of your words, and I agree that only the Spirit can bring about the change of perspective of which you speak, especially for those of us embedded so deeply of cultures of wealth, prosperity and independence.

  3. Jun 10, 2008
    at 8:55 am

    I hear that.

    There is a wall that stands between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ that can only be torn down when we come to realize there is absolutely no difference (in people)whatsoever except our geography.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:29

  4. Miriam
    Jun 10, 2008
    at 8:09 pm

    That’s funny, because I wouldn’t expect them to look anything BUT “normal”. Even the children with bloated bellies could have been my father or uncle (in Japanese prison camp around the ages of 4 to 7) if God hadn’t miraculously provided for them. My grandmother did suffer from malnutrition and it’s effects all the rest of her life. But God gave her the strength to live to 96.

    The truth is that we have been blessed the most with freedom in this country: the freedom to own land, the freedom to build and own businesses, relative freedom from government corruption and the list goes on. Western countries have benefited the most from generations of Christianity–which is truthfully the only religion free from spiritual tyranny (barring some subversions of it).

    But freedom is a blessing that must be guarded or it will disappear like a morning mist. And THAT is a most inconvenient truth that many people don’t want to look at.

    Our forefathers worked to bring education to all American children, but we are always just one generation away from illiteracy. Here in Washington state, if something doesn’t change soon, we will have a generation of children from public schools who can’t do math. At least they won’t be able to do it and get the right answer. If someone knows what good getting a mathematical answer that feels good but isn’t correct does, I’d like to hear it.

    So, could that be my brother or father or niece in the line? You bet, with the right disaster, it could happen in a moment. Would I help them as much as possible, of course.

  5. Jun 12, 2008
    at 4:51 pm

    I was thinking the woman (2nd behind the man in the blue shirt) could have assisted me at the bank, or shared a class with me at the university, when I was in school.

    Our city has already “graduated” too many alleged students, for too many years, who were/are functionally illiterate. They couldn’t string four coherent sentences together to form a coherent and cohesive paragraph, if their lives depended on it; still, they got smiley faces and praise on any work they had turned in, to build their “self-esteem.” Getting out of high school and into the sends some of them into shock.

    In contrast, the children we sponsor and serve know that education is going to help them get out of poverty. And as they learn and accomplish what they would never have been able to accomplish, without the assistance we, through Compassion, provide, they develop real self-esteem–especially if they have submitted to Jesus Christ.

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