This first appeared in The Havok Journal on April 23, 2020. The issues discussed are timeless.
Americans fight similar, but also different emotional and economic battles these days. For many, the worries of a toilet paper shortage or infection from COVID-19 are among the least of their problems. A friend, Nate Huntley, who works with an amazing group of leaders in various countries, posted in a private Facebook group page a few messages from leaders who struggle in less-affluent countries.
Nate received a message from a coworker, friend, and pastor in Pakistan. Islam is Pakistan’s national religion and aid is being given to Muslims. The Pakistani government withholds aid to non-Muslim, ethno-religious minorities—Hindus, Buddhists, Indians, refugees, Christians—outside Islam. Since the Pakistani government ordered a lockdown, 16 people within that pastor’s care died—not from Coronavirus—but from starvation. Ethno-religious minorities left to take care of themselves are starving. Stack that thought up against the fear of a toilet paper shortage: Around 12 million people are deliberately being withheld the means to survive, and unable to do the work that has kept them alive thus far.
In Uganda, a national curfew put into place strict quarantine measures. Few are allowed to travel within the country. As Americans participate in their freedom to assemble and participate in I wanna-be-free-from-lockdown protests, one of Nate’s Ugandan teammates was heading home just after curfew. He was stopped by the police, gang-beaten, and hospitalized—traumatizing his family.
Not a stranger to poverty himself, Nate has seen poverty in different contexts around the world, on nearly every continent. Nate works to help people overcome the wounding of their past and to embrace their God-created design to help them strive for a greater purpose—beyond mere survival or existing— that all people are born for. Nate’s not a humanitarian crisis worker, but these days we’re all confronted with the same global experience of COVID-19. And our challenge is: Can we be more than we’ve been?
When confided in by a trusted friend about a deliberately forced, discriminant poverty that’s leaving a host of corpses in its wake, Nate laid out the situation, the need, and the opportunity to family and friends. Could we make a difference and help as many people as possible to see the other side of this crisis by providing finances to buy food. In less than 6 hours, Nate sent over $900 to his dear friend in Pakistan to feed over 200 people for the next week. Nate also sent $300 in relief funds for food to his Uganda team leader to purchase rice and cassava for the 190 orphans and 15 staff in their care for three weeks. As Americans snap up freezers to hoard more food, others starve.
The hard truth is this: What will the remaining 11,000,800 ignored persons in Pakistan do for food this week? What will the 200 helped in Uganda do for food until their lockdown ends?
Regardless of your beliefs, your current economic struggles, or whatever hardship you face, would you consider helping to save the life of a stranger? Pakistan, Uganda, Indonesia, and other nations face hardships Americans will never experience. What practical advice will we take away from Thurgood Marshall: “The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in a time of crisis.”
Most of us are not serving at the tip of the spear to save lives on the frontline. In the Pirkei Avot—The Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishna—this verse causes me to reflect: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” Hillel stated, “If not now, when?” President Reagan paraphrased Hillel, “If not us, who?” Will we accept Isaiah’s ancient challenge: “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
As a vulnerable person during this crisis who’s confined to my home, I felt helpless to help others in need. If you’d like to join me and my friends by sending financial relief to ‘the least of these,’ you can send your tax-deductible donation to the organization, One Challenge. Nate will send your donation to buy food. Log onto https://secure.onechallenge.org/donations/donate/ and give to project number 150001.
Scoti Springfield Domeij is the proud Gold Star mom of 2/75 Army Ranger, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij, KIA on October 22, 2011, during his 14th deployment in Afghanistan. Kristoffer’s death inducted Scoti into the amazing military family and Ranger community. A civilian, Scoti is woefully ignorant of military protocol and acronyms.
She serves as Director of Springs Writers, is a solo-parenting columnist for Colorado Springs Kids, was editor/writer for nine publishers. She’s published in diverse publications including The New York Times, Southwest Art, School Daze, SAM Journal, and parenting magazines. She contributed stories to Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror (Blackside Concepts), Love is a Verb Devotional and Heaven Touching Earth (Bethany House), Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press), Extraordinary Answers to Prayer: In Times of Change (Guideposts), and The Mommy Diaries: Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure (Revell).
A researchaholic, Scoti was Senior Research Assistant/Art Production Coordinator for the 27-part film series shot on location in Israel entitled That the World May Know. She interacted with top scholars, archeologists, and museums while researching geography, seasons, feasts, culture, dress, facial ethnicity, machinery, furniture, weapons, wars, architecture, archeological discoveries, Roman culture and government, ancient religious beliefs, flora and fauna to conceptualize historically, archeologically and biblically-accurate art compositions used for over 200 art renderings and maps.