E-pistle March 5

Why Bother? 30 Hours, Haiti and Tenwek
As they have for more than a decade, middle and high school students from LPC and the community will gather during a late winter weekend for what is called the 30 Hour Famine. The 90+ kids and many of the 100+ adults who will play a role in the weekend will quit eating at noon today and not eat again until 6:00 p.m. Saturday. 30 Hours without food. But 30 hours filled with opportunities to learn and serve and have a little fun. The kids will spend the night at LPC in a “tent city” set up in the Fellowship Hall and elsewhere. There will be games and songs and lots of things to do, and as their stomachs begin to growl, they will be reminded of a world where nearly 1 billion people – one in seven of the world’s population – will go to bed hungry. Why bother? What good does it do to miss three or four meals?
When they wake up Saturday morning, there will be no Pop Tarts or Cocoa Puffs, just the feeling of an empty stomach and they will learn that every hour of their fast nearly 500 kids in our world, about eight per minute, will die of hunger related causes. But why bother? What can a few kids going hungry for a few hours do about it?
As Saturday morning unfolds the kids and their leaders will be sent to work and serve at sites across the Philadelphia area, to soup kitchens and food pantries, homeless shelters and nursing homes, where people not so far from home live with the reality of hunger or poverty every single day. But why bother? What do we in the suburbs have to do with them?
In preparation (and Sunday morning following!) for the famine, the kids are raising money that will go to support the work of World Vision, the international sponsor of the famine. This year’s money will go to the relief work still underway in post-earthquake Haiti.  But why bother? Some say the earthquake is the least of Haiti's problems.

World Vision will also be the recipient of a special portion of our One Great Hour of Sharing Offering for those of you who so designate. Why World Vision? New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, wrote about World Vision in this past Sunday’s column (click here). I don’t think he’s quite got it all, but Kristof, in many ways a surprising source, has some of it right. Kristof writes, “In Haiti, more than half of food distributions go through religious groups like World Vision that have indispensable networks on the ground." Kristof acknowledges that there is a tendency among the elites to discount the incredible care given in the name of Christ. He cautions his own, "We mustn’t make Haitians the casualties in our cultural wars. A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.”  But why bother? Why not just let the government do the job?

Yes, some of us spend vacation time volunteering in clinics and schools around the world. As noted in this week’s prayer concerns, two LPC members, Dr. Sadeer Hannush and daughter Monica leave today for what will be a ten-day mission to the Tenwick mission hospital in western Kenya. Sadeer will be working to train Kenyan doctors especially in cornea transplant surgery and Monica will assist as needed using her language and other skills. I encourage you to spend some time getting to know Kenwek by visiting their website (click here; you can learn about some of Kenwek’s longer term medical staff here and here). We pray safety and God’s blessings for Sadeer and Monica and will be eager to hear from them upon their return (they should be back in the U.S. March 17). But why bother? What difference will one doctor make in ten short days?

So why is that the followers of Jesus Christ are likely to give generously of time, talent and treasure (and not nearly enough as we should, we must acknowledge humbly and contritely)? Why bother? The heart of our giving is not for merit gained or honor earned, not for notoriety or self-satisfaction. Not even the good we may do, small or great. At the heart of our giving is the heart of God. “We love because he first loved us,” John reminds us (1 John 4:19)

Why bother with earthquake ravaged Haiti or impoverished Kenya. Why go without food for 30 hours or spend a Saturday morning at a homeless shelter? Why take a year to serve in Honduras or a week in Guatemala? Why bother? Because God bothered. He bothered to care on that beautiful terrible cross.