Aug 25 2008

Playing God

Imagine sitting in a conference room at a large table with spreadsheets and proposals spread out before you. Laptops are opened, information is being projected on the screen, everyone around the table is intense. It looks like a normal business meeting, but this one is different than most. Its topic concerns matters of life and death.

Perhaps you are used to making decisions that deal with heart wrenching, life and death issues. I am not. Neither were most of the others sitting around the table that day. As employees at Compassion’s Global Ministry Center, we’re used to setting strategy and making plans for programs that others carry out. Rarely do we sit and decide what country will get help …what child will get food from Compassion this month?

But that is exactly what we’ve had to do in recent months. As the Global Food Crisis has touched the lives of children across the globe and throughout Compassion’s programs, the need has been immediate, it’s been urgent, it’s been huge. Our country offices have submitted proposals for over $16 million to address the current need.

While fund raising efforts catch up to the need, and while dollars slowly come through the door, we sit and make decisions on who is “neediest”. We attempt to make the money stretch and try our hardest to listen to the Lord as we direct portions of what has been raised to various countries.

We’ve gone back and forth with our country offices, asking, “If we can only send you 10% of what you asked for, how would you use it?” The reply is what you’d expect – “we’ll feed only those with the most severe need” or “we’ll provide 10 kg of rice instead of 30 kg to each family”.

We’re left feeling inadequate. It feels like we are trying to play God – deciding who will eat and who won’t. Who’ll be helped and who won’t. We’re uncomfortable doing it because of the implications of the decision, but we’re even more uncomfortable because we do it from afar. We know that our country staff, and even more so, our church partners, will have to be the ones to face the children, to see their hunger.

On the one hand, we are joyful that we have money to disburse. We’ve sent about $3 million so far – to provide emergency food supplies for families. Yet the need is still so great.

Compassion serves over a million children. Just do the math. Add in two or three family members per child served. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of need. Suddenly, $3 million doesn’t sound like so much.

Sure, not everyone is desperate or starving. Sure, the families have some means to help feed themselves and provide for their needs. But many, in fact maybe even most, are hurting because of this crisis.

I’ve turned to prayer to settle my heart in this matter. Only God can bring comfort when the food runs out. Only God can turn the Church upside down and rally hearts to open up pocket books so that sharing of resources happens like never before. Only God can give me peace that I’ve been faithful to do what He has asked me to do…and to trust that He’s big enough to carry this burden.

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  1. Lindy
    Aug 25, 2008
    at 9:24 am

    We are praying with you! I continue to wonder which option would be most vital for concerned sponsors: to sponsor an additional child, to donate to the Global Food Crisis Fund, or to send a family gift for our sponsored child(ren) in the hardest hit areas. We appreciate all you are doing!

  2. Amy
    Aug 25, 2008
    at 10:25 am

    Bless you all for doing the very best you can to help. You are in my prayers. May God multiply the resources you have like He did with the loaves and fish.

    It breaks my heart to see how unaware so many people are of the needs of our starving brothers and sisters around the world. Maybe if each of us does our best to raise awareness of the global food crisis within our own circle of influence, others will respond and step up to help.

  3. Aug 25, 2008
    at 11:04 am

    Regina, I do not envy you and the others at the GMC who have to make these decisions. My heart breaks, just reading your post, just as it breaks when I try to convey to pastors how great, how mammoth, how urgent these needs are! Somehow, it seems not to translate.

    The last figure that I heard the represented the cumulative amounts requested by the vast majority of our field-partner countries was around $16 million, but that was weeks ago. I’m guessing it’s around $20 million, by now. I’d also like to know whether we still have any countries *not* yet at the critical point.

    I’ve had the same questions Lindy mentioned (#1). Does it help the projects if some of the children receive family gifts (which we hope will go for food the families who are seriously affected by the crisis)? If a family gift is sufficient to provide for the family for a month, does the project then apportion that family’s share to others?

  4. Aug 25, 2008
    at 5:22 pm

    I’ve been wondering why, no matter how I say it, how I write about it in my blog, I don’t see or hear many hearts being moved and wallets opened to help with this crisis. Why are good people, socially-conscious, dedicated, Christ-following, Bible-believing people, so unmoved by this great need?

    Now it has occurred to me (yes, I can be slow!) that this is part of the whole spiritual battle that is going on, all the time. And all it takes for the kingdom of darkness to prevail, for any length of time and to any degree, “is for good people to do nothing.”

    Maybe I’ve been relying too much on my own ability to express, to urge, to plead, to explain…and too little on the Spirit of God to turn the tide and get people to let go of His money. Time for me to switch gears, to pray more and talk/write less.

  5. Aug 25, 2008
    at 6:31 pm

    I find much peace and comfort (and should you) in knowing everything we say or do is God-filtered and ultimately it is He who decides and/or allows ‘things’ to occur.

    We follow the example of Jesus the best we can and then, when we can do little else, we rely on Him to bring in the crop.

    Of course we pray–before, during, and after making our choices; then in faith we must trust in the Provider of everything good.

    We need not stress; we need not be sad; we just need to keep going. And what then if our decisions are wrong? We bring to memory all the times God was able to make good come out of bad and somehow still bless all those involved.

  6. Amanda
    Aug 25, 2008
    at 6:35 pm

    I have been planning to give a family gift to one of my kiddos each month…but now I am not sure.

    I know each of the families have many children with so many mouths to feed. But is it better to give a family gift or to give to the Global food crisis fund?

    I keep thinking of the man who needed the cart to create a better income for his family. But how do I choose? Any thoughts????

  7. Aug 26, 2008
    at 5:04 am

    Amanda,

    This blog post has a great discussion in the comment section about whether it is “better to give a family gift or to give to the Global Food Crisis fund.”

  8. Aug 26, 2008
    at 8:12 am

    Regina, thanks for this post. You guys have a tough job.

    One thing that came to mind as I was reading what you wrote is that God showed us twice how he can feed many people with what seems like a totally inadequate amount of food.

    Even though we might have to send send less money than we think we need, we can cover it in prayer and believe God will multiply it like he did the bread and fish.

  9. Heather
    Aug 27, 2008
    at 1:36 am

    My heart breaks reading this post.Our great Provider must work miracles in times like this and even though I in my head know he has everything under control this doesnt comfort my bleeding heart. Vicky is right-Gods supposed people are for the most part cold,unmoved and seemingly uncaring. Its the whole “theyre not our children/not one of us”mentality.Such Christians should be ashamed to say they love and follow our Jesus.May God devestate their hearts and bring them a new one bleeding and broken as His.

  10. Aug 27, 2008
    at 7:55 pm

    Although I am 91 years old,have been the daughter of a pastor of a church, I felt I had seen it all. Now, I know I have seen very little, compared with our problems of today. Only God can move the hearts of people to give, and prayer in Jesus’ name can do that-if we believe, and I do! God help us all!

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