On days that are filled with emails going back and forth between colleagues, I find myself concerned about the well-being of the children that MCC works with through the social service projects. Themes of nutritional deficiencies, measuring height and weight to monitor growth in little ones, and ways to teach poor mothers how to provide for the basic needs of their children flood my mind.
With my skills in nursing, I have had the opportunity to care for the personal well-being and health needs of the beneficiaries in the programs that are currently running. Many of the women I meet deeply love and care for their children, but they don’t have access to knowledge or resources on how to feed their children to best provide for their ever changing nutritional needs. This is a challenge that I am eager to address with our staff in the New Year.
In the devotional that Nishant and I read together called Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro, it recently focused on the ongoing suffering that vulnerable children face in the world.
After Jesus was born, Matthew’s gospel records that King Herod was so disturbed by the news of a potential contender for the throne that he ordered a preemptive strike, executing all boys in Bethlehem under two years of age. Since its earliest centuries, the church has remembered these “holy innocents” who died because Jesus’ coming posed a threat to those in power. Today we remember all the little ones, born and unborn, who are sacrificed in a culture of death that has not yet welcomed the good news of Jesus. And we recall that Herod’s kingdom is now long gone, but the kingdom of God goes on. Lord, receive our prayer of tears and sorrow over those children consumed by a world that holds no regard for them. We pray for children left hungry and thirsty, left to fend for themselves on the streets, left to be abused by poor, twisted souls. Lord, in your mercy receive our prayers of intercession for children around the world. Amen.
(Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Daily Prayers for December 28).
We are drawn to pray for these children, the ones unknown to us and the ones that we do know. We ask you also to pray with us, for future generations, that they would be held in high regard, that they would be loved, and that they would grow into productive members of society, and a blessing in this world.
During our Christmas holiday, we had the chance to visit Nishant’s parents in Lebanon. It was a well needed time of rejuvenation and time well spent reconnecting as a family living so far apart from each other. Here we were able to see many historical sites and learned a lot from Nishant’s father about the history of the region. We are so grateful for our time with them and will cherish these memories for a long time to come.
Unfortunately, the conflicts in the Middle East only continue to reinforce the need to commit to praying for the children of the world. While in Lebanon, we saw many Syrian refugee children begging on the streets, with no other hope to provide for their family’s needs.
The country of Lebanon is bursting at the seams with refugees (almost a third of the population are now Syrian refugees). With little to no jobs for adults and no room in schools for children to learn, many families are desperately begging for survival. Although there are many working to help these people, the ongoing conflict has no end in sight and the “United Nations’ food agency has announced that it is suspending its food programme serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because it has run out of money.” (For more on this, see: UN runs out of money to feed Syrian refugees).
We are so thankful for the work that Nishant’s parents, Rupen and Mamta Das, are involved with through local churches that are continuing the effort to provide for the basic needs of these people (for more on this, check out: LSESD: Relief & Community Development).
In his advent reflection The Promise in Advent, on the story of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-32), Rupen Das explains how they were able to be excited about the birth of a child, of Jesus, in a suffering world.
What is it about a small baby that absolutely thrilled them? They had waited years in the midst of the brutality of the Roman occupation, when hundreds had been crucified by the roadside for all to see, as various Jewish rebellions had tried to win freedom and failed. They had witnessed the grueling poverty in which seventy percent of the Israelites lived. They had seen the callousness of the wealthy as they abused and cheated the poor of what little they had left. It had seemed that God had been absent in all those years of waiting. Then, in the middle of an ordinary day, God appears with a promise. Simeon and Anna had believed that this is not the way God had intended the world to be and that he would one day set it right. The little baby was God’s promise.
(Check out Rupen’s blog for other insightful reflections: Salt: Following Christ in a broken world).
In the midst of an oppressive visible reality, God shows up powerfully through the innocence of a fragile and vulnerable child.
As we reflect on reality of those suffering, we can easily recognize how blessed we are. We are extremely blessed to have a comfortable home, to have food to eat every day, and to have warm clothes in the winter of Bangladesh. We are so thankful for our loving family and the support that we have received in the past year from our church community and close friends. Thank you for the constant encouragement through emails, hand written letters, and phone calls that continue to sustain us in our work and lives here. Thank you for praying for us, for the specifics and the general needs that we share. Thank you for walking along side us; despite the physical distance, we feel your support.
Thank you for blessing us, so that we can try and be a blessing to others as we join in the work that God is already doing here.
Raising funds for ongoing conflict areas is extremely difficult, and responding to the needs of those affected by the conflict in Syria has been particularly difficult. With a significant decrease in aid funding, the timing couldn’t be worse as it is now winter.
Please join us in expanding our sphere of blessing by praying for this vulnerable future generation which is caught in the midst of the Syrian conflict. And please seriously consider making a financial donation to those that are providing emergency relief.
We want to share our greatest blessing for this past year – we are expecting a baby in June, 2015! We couldn’t be happier with this news and are so fortunate to soon be parents. In light of the dire situation that many children experience, we feel tremendously blessed and excited to have the privilege of being responsible for a precious child.
The last few months have been difficult with morning sickness and fatigue, but it is slowly subsiding. Due to a history of the autoimmune disease called Lupus, I have had to visit a specialist here in Dhaka who has supported me well. I also have great health support through emails with a doctor in Canada.
PLEASE BE PRAYING THAT:
1. Financial resources would flow in abundance to support those affected by the conflict in Syria, and the conflict would peacefully end
2. Erin and the baby would stay healthy during the pregnancy
3. We can arrange all the necessary logistics of attaining the right health care, and becoming new parents
Erin (and Nishant)
Check out the full album at: December 2014