By The Numbers

I used to think that people across the world were very different from me. I mean maybe I didn’t think about it consciously, but I think that my reactions and many of the stereotypes that I had really showed my thoughts on it. But the truth is that the people here aren’t so different from people in America or anywhere else in the world. The children aren’t so different from the children around the world. The children here love to laugh and play. They love to eat sweets. They have favorite foods and least favorite foods. They have favorite school subjects and ones they don’t really care for. And like children everywhere, they’re not always angels. Sometimes they argue with each other. Sometimes they don’t want to listen. They’re children. They’re people. They’re individuals.

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.
Mother Teresa

It’s so easy sometimes to look at numbers and statistics and forget the people behind them. It’s easy to hear statistics about people that are suffering and then set it aside in your mind and move on with your life. It gets a lot harder to do that when you know the people the statistics are talking about. It gets harder when the numbers become faces. Well, I know some of these numbers and faces—these children—now, and they can’t just be numbers anymore to me because I know them and love them. They’re faces now. And their faces remind me that every other number in a statistic is another face. Another person. Another individual. So now when I read a statistic that says there are 147 million orphans in the world (citation)—a statistic that was already disturbing—it’s not just the number I see. I see that there are 147,000,000 children like Ann, Friday, Victor, Godfrey, Kelvin, James, Dennis, Mercy, Joy, Milicent, Alex, Maureen, Timothy, Brenda, Jackline, Ken, Moses, Newton, Mark, Nessy, Praise, Abraham, Martin, Valentine, Pete, Sharon, Michele, Selvine, and Diana. 147 million children, the majority of which have not been as lucky as the faces I have come to know and love.

For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight.
Psalm 72:12-14

A statistic like that is overwhelming. So what’s the way forward? Can I care for 147 million children? Not without an impossibly massive house, endless days, and bigger refrigerator. So what then? Well, I can help the faces in front of me today, at this moment. For now, that’s 28 children that I see every day and about 155 that I see once every month or two. The faces will change when I go home in March. I can look for ways to increase my ability to help. That may involve giving up things that I want so that others can have what they need. I can pray for strength and grace from God to achieve every plan he has for me. I can also pray that more and more people will start to realize that the numbers are faces and that they will look for ways to live out God’s definition of religion in James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless us this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Remember the faces.

Love and a kingdom,