Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:35-37 (NIV)
Yesterday, one of the massage therapists, Kyle, relayed that the tornados of late April which swept through Alabama impacted her family. Kyle called her daughter when she saw on television that a tornado was headed towards the area where her daughter’s family lived. They had already left the family’s mobile home and taken shelter in a shed out back behind the house that had a concrete floor. It was nighttime and the children were already in their pajamas with no shoes on. Kyle said her daughter had taken her cell phone with her and answered the phone when her mother called. That is how Kyle heard the tornado hit her daughter’s house and the screams of the family as the terrible wind washed over them. Kyle said that her daughter lay over her two year old while her husband held down the six year old. Their mobile home was blown completely away, but the shed protected them. The wind drove a nail into Kyle’s daughter’s back; her husband had a concussion and their six year old a broken hand, while the two year old, protected by her mother, was unharmed. At least physically. It took three days for emergency workers to cut through the fallen trees and reach the family. When they finally arrived at Kyle’s home they only had the clothes on their backs, no shoes, nothing. Everything they owned had been wiped away. They are still deeply traumatized by what they experienced. I could see the weariness in Kyle’s face as she told us the story. I am ashamed at my initial reaction to Kyle’s tale. Instead of sympathizing or asking what I could do to help, I stated that our local radio station had raised $150,000 in gift cards and sent them up this way dismissing Kyle’s pain thinking I had done my part. This morning, while I was sitting on the porch reading my Bible, a storm blew over the mountain. The trees here are so thick that I could not see the dark clouds, but I felt it approaching the way the wind blew the tall pines and poplars around the house. The bending and pitching was scary as the whole forest moved before me. Then, came the rain and small hail. The air got so cold that I went into the house. As I watched the storm from safety, I was humbled because I had not taken Kyle’s predicament more seriously. Sending money was fine, but why didn’t I offer compassion, a more personal touch to her needs. There are some who say that we should not go on mission trips, but should just send the money that it would take to travel to the people in need. I disagree. When you walk beside a person in need, that is when their plight becomes your own and you are moved to help beyond merely sending money. Sometimes, a hug and a listening ear are more important and you can’t send them in the mail.