But it does.
There are a lot of awful things in this fallen world. Pain, abuse, and corruption can seem so common that we grow numb to them. How many stories do we hear a week about such things? Too many.
I am often saddened but hardly ever shocked anymore. But Monday morning I was shocked. I've heard people talk of being so horrified by something they were sick to their stomachs, but this was the first time I've felt that. A wave of nausea swept in with the heartache as I read an email from a friend:
It's terrible to think about children being mistreated like that...it's worse when you've met them. It's much worse when you've played with them, and laughed with them, and held them and know their faces.
That's what I realized as I read: I know their faces.
Many of you have heard me talk about my brief time in Haiti last year after the earthquake. It was overwhelming, heartbreaking, and still oddly encouraging. I still keep in touch with a few Haitian friends.
While reading this email, the name of the orphanage played in my mind. Hadn't I been there? But then, we had been so many places in those couple of weeks and much was fogged by dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sheer fatigue. Yet, I had a sinking feeling that I had been to this place, been around these people responsible for so much evil, and seen the faces of these children. I clicked through my facebook albums from Haiti. There they were:
Pictures of the day we delivered trucks full of mattresses to the Son of God orphanage. They were so thrilled that they wouldn't have to sleep on the floor any more! We danced and played with the kids.
They joked around and hammed it up for the camera.
We held precious babies and hugged adorable children.
But we didn't know.
I'd like to think that maybe it wasn't going on back then. Maybe there was nothing to know. Because if I think that then I don't have to wonder how I missed it, or if there was something I could have done.
Realistically I know that there wasn't anything I could have done. I was only there for a few minutes one evening. I was just tagging along for a donation delivery determined by someone else.
But I still feel guilty.
We thought we were helping.
And now I can't help but look at their faces and wonder where they are now, hope that their lives have been spared, and pray for a swift resolution for the situation.
A place that bears a name of Jesus, the Son of God, has become the embodiment of everything Christ is not. The Bible says in Psalm 68:5,
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
Maybe it's just a coincidence that these photos were found in an album I had titled "God is good..." from the common practice of the speaker/congregation statement and response, "God is good..." "...All the time!" that they used quite a bit in Haiti. To a cynical observer it could almost be ironic.
God is good.
God is good?
Is God good?
Sexual abuse, neglect, starvation, organ harvesting, and child trafficking.
And God is good?
All the time?
God is good. ALL the time. In the face of inexplicable evil, God is still good.
"Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will hear, for I am compassionate." - Exodus 22:22-24
This story can also raise debates about unintended consequences of aid, Haiti's nation of NGOs, social justice, etc. And I'd be interested in discussing all of those things at another time. But today it's just about these kids trapped in a deadly situation and those trying to do something about it. Please be in prayer for this situation! Intercede for these children, for the individuals involved in trying to end it, and for the government officials that need to act. Pray for miraculous intervention for these precious lives. And remember that this is just one small example of what takes place around the world every day.
"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."
**Please keep Brittany, me, and our coworkers in your prayers as we travel to Argentina tomorrow for work.