Sunday, January 13, 2013

Two Emilys

In my Bible I keep a photograph of a little girl who shares my name.  We've never met.  I know a little bit about her, but not much.  Her name is Emily.  She lives in the slums of Kenya, Africa.  She is two years old and hungry.  Her father abandoned her.  Her home is a single room made of mud and grass with eight people living inside.  Emily has most likely never owned a pair of shoes or a single toy.  She doesn't know if she'll ever get to go to school.

The first time I saw Emily's photo, a toddler dressed in ragged clothes with a face drawn from hunger and the burdens of poverty, what came to my mind's eye was an image of myself at her age.

At two years old, I knew nothing of fear, of starvation, of death, of poverty.  All I knew was the love of my family and the security of my own home.  Growing up, I was told daily that I was loved.  I was given three meals a day, unless I was ill or naughty and had to miss supper.  I owned multiple dresses, a warm bed, toys to spare, and was blessed to have both parents alive and happily married.

As I look at little Emily's picture, I cannot help but shake my head and think, "Why was that not me?"  What kept us from switching places before we were ever born?  How is it that I am the Emily who was given a life of plenty and she is the Emily who struggles to survive in absolute poverty?

Psalm 139 talks about the Lord placing children onto this earth with love and purpose.  "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  ...How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!"

When God hears little Emily cry at night because she is so hungry, when He watches her suffer from neglect, when He sees her wait for help that has not come, how His heart must break for her.  Little Emily is treasured by the Lord as much as I am.  She was created with value, purpose, and unfaltering love.  

So why am I here?

What comes to mind immediately is Jeremiah 1.  In this chapter, the prophet Jeremiah has been given a purpose and a mission, but he is afraid.  The Lord speaks to him and says, "'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.'...  'Alas, Sovereign Lord,' I said, 'I do not know how to speak; I am too young.'  But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am too young."  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.'"

I have been put into a place of blessing and security.  I have a family, an education, and a fair amount of financial prosperity compared to the majority of the world.  What responsibility has this given me?  Little Emily cannot stand up and speak for herself.  Without an advocate, she will die in silence, quickly forgotten among other little girls and boys who live in utter poverty.  

The Bible is clear about our responsibilities concerning the poor.  Proverbs 31:8 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."  Proverbs 14:31 says, "Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."  

If you have been blessed with prosperity compared to the thousands who are starving and hurting around the world, then you have been given a responsibility to give to those who have nothing, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to shine the light of Christ's love to the world, and to proclaim freedom to all who are held captive. 

Why was little Emily born into a world of suffering and poverty?  Only the Lord knows the answer to that question.  But I do know that He identifies with her and every child like her.  His compassion is great.  2 Corinthians 8:9 says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."

Little Emily is one of the many unsponsored children waiting for someone to shine the love of Jesus Christ on her life through sponsorship, with the help of Christian Relief Fund.  If you would like to sponsor a child or make a donation through CRF, check out their website here.  

Take the time to thank the Lord for the blessings you have been given.  Ask Him to make clear your purpose here.  Where have you been called to serve? 

1 comment:

  1. Emily,
    You put into words how I feel. I want to go to Africa more than anything in the world but right now I feel like I can't do anything because I'm to young. Every time I think of those kids that go hungry every night, or the ones that are cold and don't even have a warm bed, it breaks my heart!