“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliever them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:3-4
In less than two weeks, I will embark on a new journey to Nigeria, Africa. In a little village called Osula (pictured above and below), my team and I will dig two water wells, feed over 600 children, medicate children and orphans with anti-malaria medication and de-worming pills, speak in schools and orphanages, host two medical outreach clinics, work in a Neonatal unit, and walk through villages simply loving the people that live there. While I could sit here and give you countless statistics on the poverty in Nigeria, my view on statistics has changed. Richard Stearns challenged me to see “statistics” in a different way in his book ‘The Hole in Our Gospel.’
“While statistics aid us in finding both causes and cure, they can also numb our sensibilities. You perhaps have already heard the most shocking statistic of all: that 26,575 children die each day of largely preventable causes related to their poverty. But that very statistic, so critical to our understanding of the extent and urgency of the plight of the world’s children, also begins to obscure the humanity, the dignity, and the worth of each of those children. It takes away their names and their stories, homogenizes their personalities, and cheapens the value of each individual child, created in the very image of God. Statistics can become just another way to look away form the faces of the poor, just one more way to walk by the side of the road.”
Reading this completely shocked me. It’s so easy to throw a statistic out there to try and catch people’s attention. While statistics may raise awareness, it doesn’t push people to action; it may shock them for a second, but the depersonalization of a large group of people in a statistic, causes them to respond with much less compassion. Therefore, that “one” child whose life could have been changed, is now lost in a statistic. Their identity is gone and to us, they don’t have a name or a story. I believe so much in the identity of the lost, lonely, poor, and brokenhearted and I want them to know that they are not just a statistic or a number, but that there is a God who values and loves them more than they could ever imagine. In Him, they have a purpose and a destiny. In Him, they can do anything. As a disciple of Christ, I want to give it my all for that “one.” My prayer is that we would start a movement in the village Osula, restoring their dignity and their worth one person at a time. It’s not about the number, but about the “one.”
Think about this. In Deuteronomy 15:11, the Lord says, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” There is purpose in the poor. If the poor will always be with us, I believe God wants to transform His world through the poor.
In one of our meetings the other day, Pastor Ojo brought me some pictures of the Neonatal unit I will be working in while I am in Nigeria and I wanted to share these pictures with all of you. As he handed them to me and I began to look through them, my heart became so full and tears just fell from my eyes. Working as a neonatal nurse here is so different than in Africa. I can’t imagine working in those type of conditions. Each day on my unit we fight to save the lives of babies born at 23 weeks where as in Africa, a 23 week baby doesn’t make it and most of the time the mother doesn’t either. The majority of babies in the NICU are there because of malnutrition and dehydration, something so easily treatable here. Babies are born sick and very small (average birth weight being 3-4lbs) because throughout the mom’s pregnancy, she didn’t receive adequate nutrition. Feeding tubes are placed and nurses frantically try to start IVs as the infants cry with no tears and can’t suppress the overwhelming sense to vomit. Babies lay in cribs for days with crying mothers at their side praying for a miracle. A sweet mother tries to cup feed her infant, but food to a starving infant is foreign and the infant can’t keep it down. Malnutrition and unsafe drinking water are the leading cause of death, coupled with poor sanitation and lack of medical knowledge makes conditions even worse. Being a NICU nurse my heart beats so deeply for these babies. It’s a cry within myself to “DO something,” even if that something is holding a crying mother in my arms with the love of Jesus as her baby fights for his/her life. As I prepare to “Go,” I’m holding onto God’s word and His promises! “He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Help me pray over these pictures and this unit as I begin my journey to Nigeria, Africa next week.
“It’s not what you believe that counts, it’s what you believe enough to do.”
-Richard Stearns, The Hole in our Gospel
As we GO, praying God gives us a boldness to walk with authority and power claiming “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works..” (John 14:12-14). The oppressed will go free, chains will be broken, the hungry will be feed, the homeless will find shelter, the naked will be clothed, and the sick will be healed (Isaiah 58).