A Hungry Child Has No Ears to Hear

Orphan Care - Part I

The statement "a hungry man has no ears" is often attributed to an unnamed missionary in Africa, but also is close in meaning to a worldwide proverb "a hungry belly has no ears." Either way, the principle remains the same. A hungry person cannot hear.

Obviously, a hungry person is not physically without ears. The statement is a figurative one. Whether the message be the gospel, socialist propaganda, or Scooby Doo, a person with an empty tummy has no concern other than satisfying the relentless hunger. This illustration is useful when evaluating the relationship between evangelism and social action in mission work mentioned in an earlier post last week - Orphan Care - Mission Work or Not?

We met a boy in Honduras, I'll call him Chico. He was born in a small village in the jungle. From the accounts we heard, his mother remarried after his biological father died or disappeared. Chico's stepfather brutally beat him and threatened his very life. Chico ran away. He traveled an unbelievable distance on foot to reach Puerto Lempira, a town of 6,000 or so. Providentially, he found an abandoned house which just happened to be next door to a Christian home for disabled children. After scrounging around for food to survive and watching the home for a few weeks, he finally got up the nerve to creep to the fence and ask a volunteer for a bite to satisfy his aching belly.

I'll stop the story here to simply ask the question, what would you do in this situation? What if you found out that, in this same town and surrounding jungle pueblos, there are many kids like Chico of all ages? Would you conduct a Bible drive here in the States and ship the Bibles down? Would you start a feeding program to feed Chico one hot meal per day?

What if I added more information... Chico cannot read well and neither can many of the children in this place who are malnourished and undereducated. Does this change what you might do for Chico?

Do you have the time to help feed Chico? Do you have the energy to play ball with this child who has a natural gift for soccer (futbol)? Do you want to build a relationship with this young man so that he trusts you and sees Jesus in you? Or do you just want to hand the Bibles out, preach a bit, give an altar call and head out since there are many more souls to save?

My words may sound brutal, but this either/or argument within American Christianity about evangelism or social work is simply absurd. Unequivocally, we must care for a person's physical needs, orphan or not. We must take the Great Commission and the Great Commandment and beautifully allow God to weave these two mandates together in a way that only He can do.

Several friends commented on the original question about orphan care and I want to share their feedback. I'm fortunate to be surrounded with very smart friends who bring wisdom from many different angles. This subject proves no different. I can't wait to share those thoughts with you in an upcoming post on Orphan Care - What Does God's Word Say?.


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WOW...as I'm reading your post I am asking myself and God...HOW??? How can this poor child be struggling so much? How CAN I help from HERE for now...and then HOW can I get there THIS summer to hold, love, and teach children just like Chico?

Thank you so much for sharing this story, and I will continually pray for Chico and all the other people WORLDWIDE...as I'm sure this is not such an uncommon occurance. From Honduras to Ethiopia, and even here in the United States...as children of God ourselves...he is calling us to reach out and share HIS love!
Araratacres said…
Beautifully spoken Laura. Another thought....When Jesus was speaking to the multitudes and they all got hungry, He didn't ignore their need and keep on talking....He FED them first. You just keep on! love you~ Liz
Angela said…
This was a wonderful post. I live in Ky, and around me there is a high population of children in Foster care or Should be in foster care. I to feel this burden everyday as we go to the store or the Dr. and see these hurting children. When mydaughter was taken from her Mother, she was foung alone in her appartment. She was three years old. She had no food and was skin and bomes. She had been sexually and physically abused. i am forever greatful forthe stranger who heard her dries and looked after her. They fed her clothed her and kept her safe until the police arrived. I often wonder what would have been of her if no one had listened to her cries. It's easy for us to listen when faced with Children like Chico. And no one should ignore that. But I have to wonder how many times these types of situations are close to home and we do not listen? Anyway's my point is that i would consider it mission work and not just orphan care.
Laura said…
Angela - you are so right. There are situations very close to home that are similar and just as much mission work. We are blessed, though, in the United States to have a safety net in the foster care system. Two of our children were also part of that system for a time. As imperfect as it is, at least it is something. Thank you so much for contributing your thoughts to this... you know first-hand what this post is about.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. I love your blog and the pictures of your children - they always make me smile!
Angela said…
I thought I would let you know that I put a link to this post on a blog I have. Here is the link. http://prayingformyfamily.blogspot.com/
Holly (me.) said…
"Social Work" did not exist until Christ chose the first missionaries. Christ came to answer Need. Why would we choose to doing otherwise?
Clay said…
I listened to what you asked me to listen to and have thoughts about it. We'll talk on Friday.

How's that for subtle?

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