Silent Tsunami

Working at Compassion is hard on your heart.

When I purposely expose myself to the ugly things in life, I open myself up to possibility that my heart will be hurt. It’s a scary, vulnerable place, but it’s exactly where God has called me to be.

My heart hurt badly last week when I read this in a crisis report from our staff in Bangladesh …

Approximately 95 percent of Compassion-assisted children are feeling the effects of the [global food] crisis. Many are living on one meal a day — receiving it at their child development centers — and struggling with feelings of guilt and sadness because their family members don’t receive the same benefit.

Did you get that? Our children are feeling guilty for eating one meal a day.

We just had our once-a-quarter meeting where all the different department leaders report their numbers for the previous quarter. Usually, this meeting is filled with exciting reports of how God has blessed Compassion beyond our expectations. We set high goals and God consistently exceeds them. And while last week’s meeting had its share of positive reports, the one issue that overshadowed everything else we talked about was what is being called the Silent Tsunami, or the Global Food Crisis.

Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, you’re likely not alone. But perhaps you’ve seen a glimpse of it here at home: “the rising cost of gas” or “economic recession” or “the creation of biofuels.” But whereas we here in the United States are facing inconvenience and sacrifice, our brothers and sisters around the world are facing death by starvation.

Does this upset you? It should. It obviously upsets me. We’ve got to start doing something about it now because this crisis is going to get worse before it gets better.

This Global Food Crisis is complex — it is not caused by one single thing but is the combination of many factors including:

  • Diverting food towards the creation of biofuels
  • Recent droughts and floods
  • Higher gas prices
  • Higher tariffs in export markets, especially rice

When several of these factors occur together, it creates a kind of “perfect storm” situation, with global consequences. Compassion Vice President of International Program, Mark Yeadon, says that while every person is affected at some level by this crisis, there are varying degrees depending on where in the world you live. Some are refraining from purchasing that new car or vacation home. Some are carpooling to work or riding their bike more. Some are adjusting their grocery list to accommodate the higher food prices. Some are wondering where there next meal will come from. Some don’t worry about where their food will come from because they don’t need to wonder — they know there’s no food.

I don’t mean to depress you. I want to motivate you. Compassion is in a position to make a difference. We have already sent supplementary funds to our two hardest hit countries, Haiti and Bangladesh. We are in communication with our staff in other countries at risk and will address the issues based on the level of severity.

If you are interested in giving money to our Global Food Crisis fund, you can do that. But this is NOT an appeal for money … this is an appeal for your broken heart.

Our family is hurting, and I hope you are not okay with that.

Here are some small things you can do:

  • Pray for God to show you what you should do.
  • Learn about the crisis and then tell others what is going on.
  • Write to your sponsored children in Bangladesh and Haiti to encourage them and love on them.
  • Pray hard about which candidate to support in the upcoming presidential elections.
  • Talk to your own children about what is happening around the world.

While it’s hard not to get overwhelmed at the situation, God is so much bigger than this, and none of this is out of His control. So what is it that He’s asking you to do?

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Becky Tschamler May 22, 2008

    Kelly, I forwarded your question to David, our Field Communication Specialist in Bangladesh and here is his response:

    “The social workers help those children by giving them consolation. They actually informed us first about those children and their families.(Then we visited those houses.) When I was talking with Julias Hasdak, one of the social workers, he was crying with the child. I realized that the people at the project also feel the misery and poverty of the little children. The social workers, project manager, and teachers all are aware of these situations and they try to keep the children happy. They have a loving heart for the kids and they always support the children.”

    So it sounds like they give the children as much emotional support and encouragement as they can in the midst of these extremely tough circumstances.

  2. Candy Entingh May 14, 2008

    As a sponsor and a Compassion staff member, I am beginning to see the effects of the “Silent Tsumani” on my own sponsored children. In Nicaragua, my sponsored child’s parents have had to leave her with an aunt while they work in a neighboring country because they cannot find employment near their home. My sponsored child in Uganda has parents who sometimes work as laborers. I know that this month I will send a family gift of money through Compassion for each of my sponsored children that could very well be used to buy food for the entire family. There IS something we can do to help our sponsored kids. Ian, I’m also fasting from rice!

  3. Becky May 14, 2008

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your hearts on this. It encourages me to know that you care and are praying about what you can do.

    Kelly, that’s a totally fair question. I’ve forwarded it to our staff in Bangladesh. Hopefully I’ll have an answer for you soon.

  4. Compassion dave May 14, 2008

    We all have excuses, but we all need to ask ourselves, “Is God bigger than our excuses?”

    Let us pick-up the answer and take a collective step forward.


  5. Dionna May 13, 2008

    I’m glad you shared this. My husband and I have been aware of the Global Food Crisis – 1. Because he’s been to Africa twice and has friends there, and 2. Because I sponsor a little girl in Haiti. It breaks my heart.

  6. Jill May 13, 2008

    Thank you for writing this from your heart. Praying to see how God will use me & my family to help. Directing others to read your words as well.

  7. Kelly @ Love Well May 13, 2008

    Maybe it’s not fair to ask this on this post, Becky, but how does Compassion deal with the one child who feels guilty that she’s eating while her the rest of her family is hungry? That’s an incredibly difficult situation for anyone, much less a child.

  8. Ian Durias May 13, 2008

    Further, my family is trying to help by doing little things and hopes to do more. We’re fasting from rice. The economic ramifications of this is almost invisible, I know. But this is also a small way for us to suffer with the people who are most effected. The internal ramifications of this, we believe, contribute to our spiritual development. Most fasts are. We’re also moving away from a van and a car to a van and a bicycle (by mid-summer?). We’re also praying. And we’re open to other suggestions.

  9. Ian Durias May 13, 2008

    Thanks for this, Becky. You are appreciated. I’m praying and pointing people to this post.

  10. Chuck Guth May 13, 2008

    Thanks for bringing this to the forefront. We sit here and complain about “the cost of gas” and other trivial matters in our everyday life. We really need to refocus and realize the global impact!!! I am certainly going to be praying and discussing with my children. My small group will be covering this with prayer also.

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