Today, I was supposed to be telling you all about an exciting India update, but in light of the events of the last week, I just can’t bring myself to talk about that, until I’ve addressed an issue that God has been placing on my heart since last Friday.
I’m an avid avoider of the news. I don’t like listening to the stories that make me angry or put me in a bad mood (and this is something else that God is working on, but that’s another story). But the news that is coming out of the Philippines right now is cutting deep, and I want to be there with these people, hurting alongside them so I can truly understand the devastation that they are going to be facing for months, years to come.
Because to me, this is more than a news reporter showing pictures on the news, or more than people writing #PrayingforthePhilippines on twitter or whatever. My brothers and sisters in Christ have had their lives ripped apart by a freak typhoon, and many thousands of them have lost their lives. Many friends of mine have sponsored children living there, so I’m joining them in their sleepless nights as they wait to hear news of their precious little ones (because to my friends, these kids aren’t just photographs on a fridge, These are real kids with real names and real lives), desperate to hear the tiniest scrap of news that our little ones out there made it out okay.
There are just no words to describe the devastation that is going on right now. And yet, in many ways, life in England carries on as normal. I’m not suggesting we don’t care – of course we do. But the effects of the typhoon will carry on long after we start talking about the Next Big Thing. And I often wonder if this would be how God would have us live. These people in the Philippines – they’re God’s children. His heart is completely broken for them. And as the Body of Christ, this should be our response, too.
Someone put on twitter today that there’s only six weeks until Christmas. Six Weeks. In the next six weeks, our focus will slowly begin to shift from the Philippines to buying presents, putting up the Christmas tree and buying copious amounts of food. I’m not suggesting this is right or wrong – I think this is largely something between you and God and what He challenges you about at the time. But for me, suddenly I don’t want to go Christmas shopping. I don’t want to go and buy things for people that they don’t really need, just because it’s what we do. I don’t want to go and needlessly spend money on our ever-growing collection of Christmas decorations that will see the light of day for 1 month out of 12.
Think for a moment of the message this gives out. Should this be our response to a huge natural disaster such as this? I’m not for a minute suggesting that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or buy presents or whatever, so that car can be parked and left. Like I said, we’re all going to have different responses to this. And, to be honest, I’ve given up trying to justify myself for feeling the way I do. So here’s how I feel: my heart has been destroyed by the mere thought of what these people are going through. I physically cannot relate this to anything I’ve ever experience (or am ever likely to experience) because I live in a completely different world to these people. My heart longs to be with these beautiful people of God, to cry with them, to hurt with them, just to hold them as they desperately try and take in everything that has happened. And if I could, I would get on a plane and go and show them the love of God in a real and tangible way.
But I can’t. I’m here in England and they are there. But that doesn’t mean I do nothing. That doesn’t mean I don’t grieve with them and for them. That doesn’t mean I pretend like it’s not happening. I can make a difference to these people right from where I am. I can’t pretend that the 9 million people affected by this typhoon simply don’t exist, and this is what spurs me into action.
We can pray. Whilst those living in the midst of this disaster may have lost hope, we haven’t. We are in an incredible position to be able to cry out to God on behalf of these beautiful people, even if we don’t know the words. God knows our hearts, and he hears our prayers, whether they are spoken or unspoken, whether they make sense or not.
We can give. Compassion are working tirelessly right now to keep everyone updated, and even though I don’t sponsor or correspond with a child from the Philippines, I am so grateful their efforts in trying to get information out quickly, as well as setting up some wonderful disaster relief funds. For Compassion UK, click here, and for Compassion US, click here.
As more and more news is coming out of the Philippines, I find myself more and more often running into the arms of Jesus and asking him over and over why this happened to such a beautiful group of people, and more and more I’m aware that his heart is breaking even more than mine. I might only be one person, but my prayer is that I would still be used by a mighty God who is desperate to help His people.