The images were haunting, the locale foreign and mysterious. The people were different from any I had ever seen before, and not just because of their dark skin and unusual clothing.
It was something in their eyes, a haunted look in some, a frightened look in others while some contained that thousand yard stare that reveals more than it hides as they focus on nothing, having seen far too much darkness in their days.
I was little more than a child myself at the time, and I wept. Not just tears of sadness, but of anger, too, that this could be happening anywhere in the world that God had made. It took me a long, long time to learn that men -- men who have the power to stop this atrocity -- choose not to, whether out of hatred, tribal rivalry or out and out greed, evil men stand by and do nothing while their people fall, or worse, actively participate in the roadblocks that keep help from coming.
The images are back, in a big way, images of refugee camps in Kenya, and of people, primarily women and children, on an arduous, dangerous trek through a forbidding landscape that has been bereft of rain for too many seasons.
These people are hungry.
They are more than just hungry, they are starving.
Last month, I took my granddaughter, Harley, with me to Imperial to cover the mobile feeding unit set up by Feed My Starving Children. And for the first time in her 8 years, she saw them, too. Haunting images, of children, just her age, and younger. But the similarities ended there. These children were in Haiti, where desperate mothers prepare a despicable recipe called a "Haitian biscuit" from dirt to stave off the hunger pangs that make their children cry and whimper through the long dark nights. But Harley also saw that these children are not yet without hope, though their day-to-day survival depends wholly on the kindness of strangers who answer God's call to "rescue those being led away to death, hold back those stumbling toward slaughter." (Proverbs 24:11)
Why would anyone purposely expose such an innocent to such images? Because, in those pictures, Harley could see the before-and-after pictures, pictures of children pulled back from the brink of death, pictures of children rescued from the specter of hunger and deprivation, pictures laughing and smiling children who were healing, in body and in spirit, because of those who answer God's admonition to "rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:4
And, because on this day, Harley could do something to help these children, and children like them all around the world.
So we set to it.
The tasks were simple. A heaping cup of rice, a heaping cup of extruded soy protein, a generous scoop, pressed down full measure, of vitamins, minerals and vegetables seasoned to taste like chicken and a sprinkle of dehydrated carrots and potatoes. Measured into plastic bags, by eager volunteers, sealed and packed; each package equals six servings of a life-saving, life-changing recipe that is being served around the world, even in war-torn Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya.
We worked hard, without stopping, everyone understanding the magnitude of the moment. This food was destined for any one of 70 countries around the world, and this food would provide sustenance and, perhaps more importantly, hope, wherever it was served. When we finished our shift, Harley, her white hairnet still in place, said, "I want to stay and do more."
"We will," I promised. "Whenever and wherever we can. We'll do more."
Harley did the math on the way back to McCook. Our team filled 20 boxes in little more than an hour. Each box held 36 packages. Each package provided six servings. Four thousand, three hundred and twenty servings. A drop in the bucket when I see the evening news, barely a ripple in an ocean of need.
We were on the coast outside of San Diego in 1994, a celebratory trip when Ben graduated from Marine Corps basic training. As Danny and I walked along the beach, I kept seeing the little sea creatures that had washed ashore with the surf, still in their shells. I gently picked each one up and sent it sailing back into the waves.
Danny chuckled, and chided me good naturedly. "You can't send them all back."
I know, I replied, but I can send this one back.
"It doesn't make any difference," he said.
"It makes a difference to this one," I countered as I sent another one home.
We can't save the world. I know this. I've fought about it, sobbed about it and, at times, done my best to forget about it through my life. But we do what we can, where we can, when we can, because it makes a difference, even if it's only for just one.
"..and if you spend yourselves in 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 noonday." Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)
For more information go online to www.fmsc.org
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.