Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with someone I had known many years ago, lost contact with and was reconnected to him. He asked what I was up to these days. Of course that ignited a conversation about this project, what I was doing in Peru with the children of Changes for New Hope and the progress we are making with them.
Having known him from a church group years ago his comment was marinated with christian accolades and admiration that I was doing a good work for the Lord. The fuse was lit. As patiently as I could, I explained that this is a work that needed to be done. There are children here in the Peruvian Andes lacking the very basics of what was necessary to maintain a healthy or normal life. It did not require a devout man of incredible faith nor a "beam of light from above" to move any person with an ounce of compassion to come to the aid of these children. It was within my power to come here and start a project to help them and I did.
I challenged his accolades by saying that those individuals that we both knew in the church, himself included, who knew of this project, have done nothing more than "pray for us". While the sentiment is appreciated, it is severely anemic when considering the degree of human suffering being endured by these children who lack food medicines, a warm place to sleep, educational inequities and racism. I was well aware that the people I was referring to had substaintial means and an abundance of material wealth, yet were not moved to do more than bow their heads and pray. I posed the question, "Do you know what happens to a hungry child when all you do is pray for them? They will die of hunger."
While I would never denigrate anyone for their sincere religious beliefs, I take personal exception to those who would use that same religion as a means to abort the very tennants of their religion. Case in pont, my friend advised me of the saying of Jesus, "The poor you shall have always." He was not the first to use this verse with me. In fact he was about the fifth "christian" to use the Bible to step away from following the concepts that the Bible teaches. The reasoning is that there will always be poor people, therefore you can not help them all. True enough, but does that mean that we should not help any poor people? Using that same line of thinking, if doctors can not cure every disease, perhaps they should not cure any diseases. I did not care to debate the issue with him. I believe that what you do with what is yours is your own business. No excuses are necessary. Conversely, many christian friends of very limited means have helped this project immensely by putting their faith and compassion into action in many different ways as they were able. I am filled with sincere gratitude for that.
I recently read a quote made by talk show personality Stephen Colbert. He said, ´´ If this is going to be a christian nation that doesn´t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we´ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don´t want to do it.¨
There are some wonderful people around this globe of every walk of life, belief and conviction who have touched the lives of the children of this project, providing them with shoes, clothing, medicine, food and milk, vitamins, school materials and even space blankets. Our hats off to those volunteers who selflessly came to Peru to be a hands on help side by side with me. I agree, the poor we will always have. It is a heartwarming fact though, that there are many many people out there who will do whatever it takes to make sure one less child goes to bed hungry tonight. -- Jim Killon