Monday, October 01, 2001

The Multitudes

Once we arrived in the northern region of Tamalee, our task began with the arduous daily loading of shipping crates filled with “Christmas” packages. Carefully marked by gender and age, we stacked the school bus serving as our transportation, to the ceiling. Once loaded, we made our way to remote villages.

We encountered thousands of children, parents and curious bystanders waiting under the little available shade, to witness the arrival of these gift-bearing white strangers. Many of the children climbed nearby trees, to get a better view. It was quite a sight. The shear numbers that gathered was astounding.

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power … Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands… Jer 32:17-18

As the program ended an unorganized assembly line with the children standing patiently in the sweltering heat to receive their “Christmas box” formed. There were probably twice as many children as names on the list of those who would benefit from our special delivery. All in all the operation ran as smoothly as could be expected. Dissolving into one huge chaotic scream of joy, as the children began to open their multi-colored packages.

His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?" Matthew 15:33

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat… without money and without cost. Isaiah 55:1

When we finished, the sadness of the many children left out was heartbreaking. Realizing we were leaving, the villagers began to surround us, pulling and pushing with the youngest children almost trampled in the rush. Parents shoved their offspring forward pointing to the younger ones and babies, beseeching us “Please for my baby, for my sick child, please give me your address, can you help us, please madam.” The scrambling feet of the happy and the hopeless raised the red earth to a suffocating level of choking dust.

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

We fought our way through what was quickly becoming a mob. Once inside the safety of the truck, the children surrounded the vehicle. I ashamedly admit I looked away from the pressing faces and overwhelming need. Was this melee a scene of future images of hell- when there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, people fighting scrambling and crying out for such worthless and perishable items - while the real gift of salvation and eternal life was always free?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9-10

We drove away. But the images of the children did not fade in the cloud of red dust that surrounded us. I remain unable and unwilling to forget. Father we know You have seen each hungry face, You have recorded all their tears, and You are able!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." 2 Corinthians 9:8-9