The Helpers

“Who would do such a thing?” I asked my neighbor over the fence recently. “I mean, poisoning a tree is just a vile sort of thing to do.” She has a tree at the tip of her property that for some mysterious reason has died this spring… with a large, dry brown spot ringing it. Arborists have investigated and confirmed her suspicions, poison. Someone has it out for her tree.

But it is the same question people are asking in the wake of the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday. “Who would do such a thing?” Who would coordinate explosions at a running event where innocent people with no political agenda at the moment are gathered to cheer on other innocent people accomplishing great acts of strength and endurance. Who? It sickens the stomach to think someone out there thought it would be … what? Politically advantageous? Cool? A divine calling? Who? And why?

Of course, while this is relatively new for us Americans, there are parts of the world where this sort of thing happens regularly. People riding a bus, visiting a market, doing their daily shopping, going about their business, … even children playing in a field… bliss and everyday life interrupted by tragedy on a massive scale. Because even if the death count from the bus explosion or the market explosion or the marathon explosion doesn’t reach into the 100s, maybe doesn’t even reach into the double digits, for the families affected and for the wounded, life’s realities are altered. Safety, security, joy, and trust are marred forever… at least one’s sense of it. How do you get back on the proverbial horse again after something like that?

Forgive me if this sounds callous, but we do live in a broken world and senseless tragedy has been the rule of thumb since the beginning. Things like this make me want Jesus to come riding out of the sky this instant. “Enough!” I tell him. “Enough! End it… because only you Lord God can set this right and bring about your new world, your peaceful kingdom.”

Interestingly enough, yesterday morning, a photo of Mr. Rogers came across my Facebook feed with a nice quote about looking for the helpers in times of tragedy and sadness. That quote, with a myriad of photos, crossed my feed throughout the day yesterday as if each person on Facebook yesterday felt the need in the face of the marathon explosions to offer assistance of some kind, even if it was a reminder to look for the helpers.

Thank God for the helpers! There were lots of helpers on hand yesterday and the stories of people lending hands, racing people to care stations, taking off belts to stem the flow of blood on another are trickling out of Boston this morning. We need those stories. In the face of senseless, gruesome, horrific and unbelievable acts aimed at destroying a way of life, we need a reassurance that there is still goodness somewhere… most likely in the person next to us… but certainly in the bravery and selflessness of people jumping to help. And we think to ourselves, “What would I have done?” It’s nice to be encouraged by other ordinary people who instantly became heroes because they saw a need and filled it.

Thank God for the helpers! We at Compassion Tea and CompassioNow applaud the helpers in Boston and we lift up another prayer for the helpers at the clinics we work with in Africa. Danny and Nancy Smelser, Dawn Faith Leppan, Cindy Cunningham, Sister Marta, Geoff and Nell, David, and the countless others who provide help and health care to people in rural parts of Africa where tragedy smolders in a cut that becomes infected and there are no antibiotics to treat it; where tragedy lurks in unclean water and there are no medicines to eradicate the parasite within; where tragedy lingers in a broken bone that is never set right, becomes infected at worst and never heals properly at best; where tragedy lurks in the night and children are forced into slavery as soldiers, sex slaves, workers; where tragedy creeps through a way of life that passes on HIV/AIDS at a horrifyingly rapid pace and children are born with a disease that robs them of life shockingly early; where tragedy slinks in because there is no dental care or eye care or care for the crippled; where tragedy lingers because there is not enough food.

We need the helpers. But we are the helpers, too. Rallying after the Boston Marathon and not letting the bombs change our way of life (the race must go on!) is one way. But helping those in need has to be another way. Because when we look outside our little boxes, our lovely little bubbles, the terrors of our world are immense. We need more helpers. You can be a helper simply by drinking tea! You can be a helper by collecting items for our two trips to Africa this year. You can be a helper by donating directly and ensuring there is funding for the helpers in Africa… to pay their minimal salaries, to provide medicines and medical supplies so they can effectively treat the cases that come to them.

As Mr. Rogers used to sing, “It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood! Won’t you be my neighbor?” Please, won’t you be a helper?734003_10151436862608759_2129747872_n

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