Nepal’s First Responders
At cbm, last week (and I suspect this week and next) will be dominated by the earthquake in Nepal and our emergency response. In emergencies-man made or natural-we need to remember in prayer the people directly affected. The people most obviously affected are those in Nepal who have lost family members, homes-who’ve had their lives shattered. After these most affected people, I think of the first responders.
I have been involved in several first responses to emergencies-an earthquake in Iran in 1990, the Kurdish refugee crisis in 1990, several villages and communities bombed and people massacred during the Lebanon civil war in the late 1980’s, Iraq during the sanction years, and too many bombings in Gaza.
For me, the suffering of children made these situations most difficult. It was bad enough to see children who had died. What affected me the most though, were those children who lived but whose lives had been shattered. To this day, I still can recall faces and places where I saw a child who had lost everything. A girl in the mountains between Turkey and Iraq. A baby in Gaza, clutching a shredded teddy bear amidst the ruins of his home, his father and mother dead. A family of children following a casket in Lebanon. Each child was another weight on my head and my heart.
The best first responders are those who allow a little of the tragedy to affect them. There is an irony that those who are most effective in first response are the very ones whose vulnerability limits their long term durability as first responders!
Let’s pray for the people of Nepal this week. It will be a week of discontent as the emergency supplies never come through fast enough. There are always roadblocks. Let’s remember the first responders who will feel the tragedy in their souls. Let’s remember the children-those who suffered loss and whose lives will never be the same.
In a sense, we share the role of first responder. Our prayers, our gifts of dollars and extra efforts enable more help to come, more of the love of Jesus to be seen. Remember the words of Jesus, “Suffer the children to come unto me…” We are part of the comforting by Jesus.