This seemed to be the one thought that ran through my head as the images of Port-au-Prince ran across my TV screen. It's not that I'm an unusually compassionate person. Like anyone who follows the news, my mind and heart are too often numbed to the images and reports of pain and suffering that make their way from around the world into my living room on a daily basis. In fact, it was one such report that came flooding back to my memory as I watched these new images of devastation and death. It had told how people in Haiti were so poor that they were resorting to making cookies from mud just so they would have something to quell the sharp pains of a woefully empty stomach. Now they had to deal with a massive earthquake too? We had to do something.
At first, the "we" I had in mind was only my wife and I. I wondered what we could do, how much we could give in order to lessen the suffering of our Haitian brothers and sisters. However, as the magnitude of this tragedy became more apparent it wasn't long before I began to realize that my role as a minister necessitated that I call upon my congregation to respond. We dedicated our entire worship service last Sunday to those who are suffering in Haiti. Our church board also made personal pledges that added up to over $2500 for Haiti relief through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and we are expecting much more to be given by the rest of our congregation in the weeks ahead. Some in our church are working with others in our town to collect items for orphanages in Haiti. Still others are considering how we can continue to help Haiti recover in the months and years ahead.
We know that whatever our church contributes will be an immeasurably small portion of what is needed in Haiti. We are grateful that it is not our task alone and that so many countless others are responding with such generosity and compassion. On the other hand, we also know that however small our part might be, it is still our part and it is not to be left to someone else. As much as our actions are meant to help those in Haiti, those same actions are also exercises in breaking through the numbness of our own hearts and minds to the suffering of those around us and around our world. I once heard a preacher say that compassion is when you see someone else hurting and you hurt with them so badly that you have to do something. It is our hope that our acts of solidarity with those who are hurting in Haiti, however small those acts might be, will be a step toward shaping us to be the kind of people who see the suffering of others and know that we have to do something.