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?.