How many of you are experiencing disaster fatigue? I know I am. Honestly, I’m still reeling from 9/11, from the Tsunami, from Katrina, from Haiti, from tornados in the southeast and Missouri. Even, in that overwhelming list, I left out the earthquake in Japan and dozens of other catastrophic events. It’s just too much to wrap my mind around. It’s way too much to wrap my heart around.
This week, I’ve been tuning into the famine occurring in the Horn of Africa.  Honestly, you have to look pretty hard to even find the coverage of it. But, in the last few weeks, 29,000 children have died of starvation in the region. My response: I’m ironically more worried about losing 10 lbs before our next tour. I’m just being honest. You see, 10 years ago, I would have been weeping, but I’m just tired of having my heart broken. However, that’s not who I want to be.
Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, has a profound quotation. I have it hanging on a plaque in my study.
“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
That’s an extremely convicting, humbling statement. It’s also a dangerous thing to pray. Today, I did just that. I prayed about the famine in the Horn of Africa. I’m not talking about the kind of prayer where I tell God what to do and try to bend His will to mine with some kind of Jedi mind trick. I’m talking about the kind of prayer where I get quiet, turn off the tv and the computer, and listen. I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His. All I could think of was the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46.
That parable ends with a scary quotation: 44"Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?'
45"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' 46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
I was struck by two thoughts. Clearly, God’s heart breaks when He sees the suffering of innocent children, the poor, and the helpless. That’s clear throughout scripture. But, I also think that God’s heart breaks when He sees hearts like mine. I think it breaks Gods heart to see His people not care.
I put the question to the band’s facebook page as delicately as I could. What should our response be to this latest disaster? Prayer, mobilize our government to action, support Christian relief agencies, all of the above or nothing?
It’s probably not a big surprise that I think we should do all of the above.
(If you’d like to tell me that governments have no part in this and it’s solely the church’s job, please see this journal entry .)
I was sad to see these responses among the comments:
where is your sympathy for the poor children in the United States?----------In Georgia? in Marietta?.....in Alabama?....in Louisiana?...in Hawaii?............When's the last time you heard of a concert to benefit the poor children in ANY US State?....NEVER..........get your priorities straight 3rd Day....or we'll quit buying your records!
I think American Christians need to focus more on our own country, and the homeless needy children here, than on other countries.
My first response is to be defensive. I’d love to respond that we’ve done plenty to help kids at home. I adopted a poor child into my family for goodness sake. Mac adopted two. So there! We’ve built homes with Habitat for Humanity in 5 states. We’ve done a benefit show for tornado victims in Alabama. I’d love to apply some kind of perspective to the scale of the suffering. America’s biggest current health concern for our children is childhood obesity. These kids are literally starving to death for crying out loud.
But, I realize that it’s a losing proposition. I’m not going to win that argument. Their argument boils down to a very risky proposition. These fans, or former fans because we asked a question they didn’t like, are betting that God will only hold us accountable for how we treat our immediate neighbor. They’re betting that God loves Americans more. They’re betting that God has some formula that say 30,000 African lives = 1 American child’s life. In light of Matthew 25, that’s a pretty risky bet. Honestly, I hope they’re right. I’d be able to sleep better. I just don’t think are.
God’s heart must be broken for what is happening in Africa.
God’s heart must also be breaking for the way that our hearts aren’t.
Pray for Africa, and pray for the condition of our hearts in the U.S.
To Sign the petition from the One Campaign:
To Give to World Vision: