https://www.flickr.com/photos/lordferguson/
Photo by Pablo (Flickr CC)

Giving goes beyond prayer

Faith pushes us to action when faced with a desperate world

Cover photo by Pablo/Flickr.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal killed more than 5,000 people in late April. Nearly four million people have been killed in the four-year civil war in Syria and millions more displaced. At least 1,500 migrants have drowned so far this year while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety in Europe. Nine hundred of these occurred in a single incident on April 19.

As we witness all of these tragedies, it’s difficult not to feel utterly powerless. As I write this, I can feel my eyes welling up as I think of all of the people suffering right now in unimaginable ways. It never seems to stop.

So what can we do? Pray for peace? Send our thoughts their way and hope that everything will be okay? Even for a person of faith like myself, it somehow doesn’t seem like enough.

But we can use our faith to guide our action. These individuals are in urgent need of basic supplies—blankets, tents, sleeping bags, water purifiers, medication—the kinds of things we take for granted because they’re so readily available to us, yet will be crucial for the people struggling to rebuild their lives. To provide these supplies, more than anything else, organizations on the ground need money.

The M-word. It seems like someone is always asking us to open our wallets and throw money at these problems when it doesn’t seem to make any difference. It won’t change the images on our TV screens. There will still be millions of people suffering. There will always be another crisis. It’s easy to feel that it’s not worth the effort because anything we contribute will just be a drop in the bucket. What impact could it really have?

Yet we give because God calls us to be generous. We give because we recognize that ultimately, our brothers and sisters need it more than we ever could. We give because we recognize the inherent humanity of every single individual in every single photo of destitution we see. We give because we refuse to close our eyes to the suffering around us and to dismiss it as insurmountable.

In recognizing that we need to go beyond prayer, we are not dismissing our faith but rather, fulfilling it. God does not call us to stand idly by, but to take concrete action to restore the human dignity of our brothers and sisters. From our positions, the best way to do this is to contribute openly and freely to the humanitarian organizations working in these regions. Most importantly, Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Someone once said to me that we will never be able to alleviate the suffering of every person in the world. But if we are able to touch even one life, that is enough. And that is certainly worth the effort.

Kathryn Teeluck is a policy intern for Citizens for Public Justice.

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