Pastor Jim Melvin
Jesus called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3
My wife and I recently traveled to Beaufort, North Carolina to help our daughter Emily move into her new home. She is studying at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort and had evacuated during Hurricane Dorian. Fortunately for Emily and most of the people of Beaufort the damage to her property was minor and cleanup was a matter of cutting up and disposing of tree limbs which had been felled during the storm. Beaufort breathed a corporate sigh of relief.
Walking to town a couple of days after our arrival, we came across four elementary school age kids selling lemonade from a brightly decorated stand. These young entrepreneurs were not motivated to take advantage of this hot North Carolina day to enrich themselves. Their sign, decorated with colorful palm trees, bore a simple message: “Help the Bahamas.” Not content to happily go about their lives unscathed by the storm, they shared the plight of the people of the Bahamas whose lives will not go happily on as usual for a long time – if ever.
These young activists show us why Jesus used children as models for adults behavior. Children naturally possess one of the qualities which makes us most human, compassion. They have the ability and the willingness to suffer alongside of others. Compassion is more than just a feeling; it is also a call to action. In this case a call which they answered.
I suspect that the reasons to NOT open that lemonade stand never occurred to them. Reasons like: “It’s a beautiful day and I can go to the beach.” OR “The few bucks that I’m going to earn won’t make a difference.” OR “People in the Bahamas are different; they can take care of their own problems.” They just saw people hurting and knew that they needed to help them. That’s a childish attitude. Exactly. We all should have such an attitude.
If you feel a little childish, here are a few suggestions that you can cultivate and demonstrate your humanity:
1) First of all, don’t forget the victims of Dorian. As much coverage as disasters like this receive in the media, the news cycle will quickly move on. That’s just the nature of the news. Naming the people of the Bahamas in your regular prayer and discussing the ongoing relief efforts with your friends will keep you from moving on too soon. The problems and suffering generated by this storm are enormous and long lasting.
2) Find a way to show your support. Churches and other community organizations are good places to find ways to support the hurricane victims financially or in other material and spiritual ways. Help your church group organize its own relief effort. Don’t forget to include the real children in your planning.
3) Advocate for the victims. Contact your elected representatives to let them know that you want our government to provide meaningful amounts of aid and support in the immediate aftermath of the storm and on a continuing basis. Tell them that you support granting Temporary Protective Status to Dorian refugees left without homes.
4) Become like a little child. Don’t let your own sense of powerlessness or your own fears get in the way of your inborn feelings of compassion. Because we can’t help everyone doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to help anyone. If all else fails, open a lemonade stand. Those kids in Beaufort can stand the competition.
Prayer: Gracious God, bless the people of the Bahamas with your ever-present support. Guide our hands and our hearts in your service. Fill us all with childlike hope and enthusiasm as we dare to suffer alongside all those in need. Amen.