Those of you who are older like me, will recall this incredible song from the Bee Gees who released it back in 1971, the year I graduated from High School. You might be asking “why this song and why now”? Here’s the link if you have never heard the song or if you’d like to hear it again before reading my reflection:
Yesterday, we learned that one of the schools we’ve been assisting on multiple levels for at least 15 of our 20 years of existence, has made a decision that will impact the lives of those we seek to serve the most, the poor and vulnerable children. We’ve renovated classrooms and a small building for a kitchen, sponsored children, provided a security gate, brought water filters and school supplies and have been feeding the children there. (I am consciously not using the name of the school or the last names of the children).
What decision, you might ask, could be so difficult to grasp? Yesterday, we learned that because one of the school administrators is a strong Sandinista supporter (supports the Daniel Ortega leadership), this school was ordered by the government of Nica, to no longer accept food or donations from non profits. At that moment, it truly felt like a sword had pierced my heart. I found myself crying as I was trying to continue this conference call with our personnel in Nica. Trying to regain composure, so as to continue the meeting, was difficult at best. The decision wouldn’t be so hard to accept if the government was continuing to provide food from their resources, but we also learned that the government has ceased any/all deliveries of food, supplies and support to those few schools they did previously support.
I began to see the faces of the children who go to that school:
children like Jessica who was severely sexually abused and was nothing but skin and bones when I met her a couple years ago,
children like her two brothers, Maycol and Gabriel who also suffered from lack of food, lack of love and healthcare and all whom became the responsibility of an older sister barely out of her teens,
children like Scarleth who is in High School dreaming of a future, but is no longer being fed daily and actually no longer in school because the Government has shut down all high school and university education in an effort to stem the tide of opposition against them,
children like Dulce and Adriana who just met their sponsors in the last year or so when the sponsors came on a Mission of Hope trip,
children like Stephanie who just became sponsored this year and suddenly had her hopes dashed she’s no longer being fed a daily meal,
children like Ada Luz or Andrea Tatiana who faithfully receive a gift from their sponsors each year,
children like Kevin who is being sponsored by a woman here in the States in honor of her own nephew’s birth,
children like Angi Sofia or Wendy Jimena whose own sponsors became a pediatrician and an RN after their Mission of Hope experience as high school girls, so they could insure that other children like Angi and Wendy, are getting the healthcare they need here in the US.
children like Ana Julia whose sponsor began his support in memory of his beloved wife who died,
children like Steci Stepany whose sponsor family has been sponsoring children for many years….
and so many other children.
Indeed, each of the hundreds and hundreds of children who are sponsored and each of the sponsors, have a personal story. These very children are the victims of poverty, oppression, and are the “collateral damage” we often hear about in a war torn nation or in this case, a nation plagued by corrupt and power hungry leaders, plagued by poverty and natural disasters, plagued by greed and selfishness and obscene and immoral decisions of the adults in their lives. Indeed, they are the victims, as children are in every area of unrest and war and violence. Yes, these children have names and faces, they have dreams and hopes…..YES, THIS IS HOW YOU STOP THE SUN FROM SHINING IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN, as the line in the Bee Gees song goes. These children are OUR children, they are OUR brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of where they live. We must do what we can, how we can, when we can, to let the sun shine in their lives again!
Over the past weeks and especially, over the past day, I’ve spent many sleepless hours trying to make sense of it all, trying to “mend the broken hearts” that the Bee Gees speak of…. at least in my prayers… and trying to cling to the transforming power of HOPE and compassion. Just last weekend, during our Anniversary celebration, I was asked by a very important guest (whom most would recognize if I used the name), “Debbie, how do you maintain hope and not get angry? How do you keep going?” My response was simplistic, I suppose, but genuine and heart felt. My response was that I truly believe God walks this journey with us. I truly believe in the transforming power of HOPE.
I told this person that I truly believe in the message of Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus says, “The Spirit of God is upon me, because God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.”
And just as Isaiah the Prophet reminds us that God will never forget us- ALL OF US….and just as God has inscribed us on the palms of God’s hands, so too, are we called to be the ones who help the “sun to shine again, to help mend a broken heart and let them live again”.
So, in these moments of extreme pain and sadness as Nicaragua is thrust into unrest one more time in their history, as more and more children throughout our entire world and including our own country, are failed by the adults in their lives, we must believe in the transforming power of HOPE! We can either become paralyzed and give up, or we can live and be hope the best ways we know how each and every day.
I’m drawn back to my teaching days when my students used to love when I got to the section of the curriculum which taught “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Perhaps we all need to be drawn into the words of another child ravaged by war, another era, yet so symbolic of our own era in many ways. Perhaps we are called to hear Anne Frank’s words when she says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” as she hides from fear.
So, the Mission of Hope, now and always, will seek to serve the poor and marginalized, especially the children who are victimized by the human vultures in their lives. Now, more than ever, the Mission of Hope needs each of you to help us sustain our efforts to serve, to be beacons of hope and compassion and love. Now, more than ever, the children need your prayers and your support.
Why? Well, it’s how “we can help to mend the broken hearts”, it’s how we can let the children know that “we will never forget them” and it’s because, as Anne Frank said as a child, “I still believe , in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”. Me too, God..me too!