Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Children of Hope Concert

I'm sorry that I've been rather scarce lately; a combination of busy-ness and not feeling well has contributed to my absence here. Last week was busy plus I went down another "step" on my fentanyl patch, and I'm definitely feeling more pain and less energy. But despite all that, I do want to write about the amazing concert that the kids and I saw last Wednesday night.

The Children of Hope performed last week at Lake Murray. Fifteen kids, ages five to eight and from the countries of Philippines, India, and Uganda,performed praise songs and some hymns for about 45 minutes or so; the entire presentation lasted just over an hour.

This organization usually performs at larger churches than ours, so we felt especially blessed that they came to our little family church in addition to the mega-churches in the area like Shadow Mountain, Skyline, Faith Chapel, Journey, the Rock, etc. I knew that we were in the presence of a very professional organization when the "programs" we were handed by a little girl from India (what a cutie!) were of thick, glossy paper and contained a quote from St. Bono. (My little joke there....)

The kids sang and danced to the praise music while images from their home countries or the song lyrics appeared behind them on the wall. The dancing was very African/hip-hop style, with the young boys often playing hand drums -- perfectly (and professionally) choreographed and sung well. Often the kids would come forward one at a time to recite Bible verses -- the words were on the screen as the kids' accents are still rather thick. When the tour is over in ten months, the kids will be returned to their countries where they will be taken care of by the sponsoring organization, World Help, which is striving to take care of children orphaned by AIDS, war, and extreme poverty. Their goal: to safely house and educate one million orphaned children around the world.

At the end of the kids' singing and dancing as well as the speaking and video presentations, the kids came up the center aisle then came across several rows, hugging everyone they came across. A little boy from India hugged me, then hugged E, her friend, and the boys as he proceeded across our row. It was so sweet -- E and I were both in tears for these sweet orphans (several sibling sets, too) who have been through so much pain in their lives (all have been either orphaned or abandoned) and travel so far to sing and dance such joyful praises to the Lord.

World Help is very like World Vision, except that World Help is an overtly Christian organization and includes spreading the Gospel as well as education, medical attention, orphanages, sanitation, etc. After the concert, we were able to go downstairs to meet the kids and to gather information regarding supporting a child as an individual or supporting a house or village as a church. The kids were fun to talk to, and I took a couple photos of them with E and her friend.

Bono is quoted in the program handed out to each of us as we entered the church:

Imagine for a moment that 10 million children were going to lose their lives next year due to the earth's overheating. A state of emergency would be declared and you would be reading about little else. Well, next year, more than 10 million children's lives will be lost unnecessarily to extreme poverty, and you'll hear very little about it. Nearly half will be on the continent of Africa, where HIV/AIDS is killing teachers faster than you can train them and where you can witness entire villages in which the children are the parents.

Will American Christians stand by as an entire continent dies?

Something I has heard before at a presentation I attended at Journey Community Church that featured a video-talk by Bono is that only 3% of evangelical churches are willing to help with the AIDS crisis. That is such a sad, sad number, and one that World Help is trying to change as they specifically target the evangelical church in America to pitch in and help these children and families who have been devastated by disease and poverty. When one looks at how the Catholic and Anglican Churches are on the front lines in Africa, battling disease and poverty (and have been for the last century at least), it makes the evangelical church look a bit woeful. But all of that can change -- and I pray it does. Better yet, I pray that Catholics and Protestants can work together in serving these poorest of the world to the glory and praise of our Lord Jesus Christ who told us to help the widows and orphans as a sign of our love for Him. May we glorify God hand-in-hand and heart-in-heart as we work together against disease and starvation.

If you're interested, you can find out more about the Children of Hope and about World Help by clicking on this link.

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