I remember the first time I saw a starving child in a photograph. I was six years old. A man representing a humanitarian organization was speaking to my church’s congregation. He shared slide after slide decorated with the bare, ribbed bodies of hungry children.
If I remember correctly, I cried and refused to leave the building until my mom agreed to sponsor a little girl from India named Bornali.
A starving child should always cause reactions of devastation and horror. A photograph of a little boy whose tummy is taut from malnutrition and worms should make your heart freeze in your chest. An image of a small girl with rusty-colored hair and lifeless eyes should cause you to stop and weep.
This is a child of God.
Children are not props to raise awareness. Their photographs depict images of people on this earth who were created by a God who loves them so much He sent His Son to die for them. These are children who laugh, play, learn, and who are waiting for someone to bring them hope.
One problem I’ve found in the media today is that images of starving children no longer have the effect that they once did. If you’ve ever browsed the internet or watched TV, then you have probably seen the ads for relief organizations that are raising support to help these children. Assisting starving children is very important, but I’ve found that the more ads that litter the sidebar of your screen, it's easier to find yourself purposefully pushing the faces of these children to the back of your mind.
We have become deliberately indifferent to an image that breaks the heart of God.
Do you know what a starving child looks like? Probably. Does it tear you to pieces knowing that there are more than 13,000 children who die every single day from starvation? Does the image of an abandoned, hungry child who is treasured by Christ and forgotten by the world make you leap to take action?
Or does your stomach twinge uncomfortably as you hurry to click away from the advertisement?
God says that helping the poor and needy is what it means to know Him. If what breaks His heart does not break yours, something needs to change.
Louie Giglio recently tweeted, “It’s tough to make the case that Jesus is in your heart if the poor are not on your mind.” Are you apathetic towards the millions of orphans going hungry tonight or are you broken and challenged to fulfill the Great Commission and love these precious little ones with Christ’s love?
Okay, you know what a starving child looks like. We’ve established this.
But do you know what a redeemed child looks like?
I’m talking about a little girl who has gone from being an abandoned, starving child living in the worst of slums to a well-fed, educated daughter of the Lord who knows she was created in the image of a King. There is joy in her face. There is hope in her face. There is transformation in her face.
Day after day, Americans are bombarded with images and statistics of how many children in this world are starving to death, how many orphans in Africa have been forgotten. And we should be aware. But how often are you shown the faces of hope?
Each year, Christian Relief Fund supports thousands of children across five continents. CRF provides kids with what they need for brighter futures: nourishing food, basic medical care, clothing, schooling, and spiritual training. These children go from having nothing to having hope. They go from believing they are worthless to being told about their value as children of God. They are growing up to become educated adults who will raise families, tell people about Jesus, and help end poverty in their own communities.
So many children in this world are hurting, forgotten by those of us who have more than enough to bring them relief. But there is hope. I go through stacks of photographs almost every day when I intern for CRF. I am able to see the dramatic change in a child after only one year of sponsorship. A hungry orphan becomes a beaming student.
Orphans shouldn't simply be boxed into statistics or awareness-raising photographs and left there to make people feel guilty. An orphan is a child who is cherished by the Creator of the universe. We should love orphans because Jesus loves them. He knows their names, their stories, their memories. We've been called to shine His love and hope in every corner of this globe.
Do you know what a redeemed child looks like?