At one time, my wife Susan and I were like many Americans – marginally aware of the plight of poor children around the world. We’d seen brochures that featured starving children covered in flies or told of those barely surviving in a war-torn country, then put them aside and turned back to our own lives.
In 2000, I was asked to teach at a private school in the town of Rubio, Venezuela, a small city in the foothills of the Andes mountains near the border with Colombia. Before long, children like those we’d read about were at our door 10 to 15 times a day asking for food, medicine or clothes, standing there in the flesh in dire need
When we began Andean Aid in 2003, it was a given that serving these children would be our focus. Through our Help and Hope Centers, we provide educational instruction and materials, food, medicine, clothing and adult guidance. We offer them an opportunity to improve their lot, and most important, we share the good news of Jesus Christ.
It’s easy to think of Venezuela and Colombia as far-flung, exotic places with their own complex issues our dollars can’t fix. Their poverty is not our problem. But we live in a time of unprecedented global interconnectivity. The wars, famines, epidemics and political strife that marginalize and impoverish people in one part of the world affect us in direct and indirect ways.
We all lose when children and communities are stunted by poverty. Loss of human potential is a loss for all of humanity.
God has a plan for each of his each of his children, and that is lost or destroyed by poverty. Each and every person on this planet is God’s child – unique creatures He loves and has given gifts and dreams. When we cherish each of them, whether we meet them or can only imagine their existence in the poorest corners of the world, we are honoring God and practicing Christ-like love.