I had the chance to have lunch with my former boss and coworkers last week and my boss's daughter joined us. She shared about her years living in a Los Angeles neighborhood where you did not leave the house after dark. Unless there was a problem at a nearby university, you would not see a police officer. She lived in an area under gang rule. What got me were the children, so many of which believe they have no alternative for survival but to join the gangs.
I did not ask or do anything to deserve to be born here. Neither did my son. It is humbling to recognize all we have and know that we are no more important than any of those children, yet here we are, safe in this beautiful rural community.
Yesterday I stumbled upon these verses found in the book of Isaiah 58:9-11.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail."
When I think about it all, the suffering and sorrow of the innocent children, it overwhelms me, but Mother Teresa had a little something to say about that: "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you." What a great thought to remember.
I may not be able to save neighborhoods from the cycle of poverty and violence but I can take the neighborhood children to bible school. I can spend some of my grocery money on items for the local food bank. I can sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision. There are countless little things I can do that seem to make no difference in the world but may make all the difference in the lives of an individual. That is what we are called to do. That and to stop and say Thank You for all of our blessings.