Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Friday, March 31

Glimmers of Hope

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples,he will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 21:3-4a.

The world was appalled by famine in Ethiopia in 1985. We saw pictures of starving children on our TV screens. Across the country we gave what we could to save them from death. Michael Jackson led us in a song to benefit people in Africa: “There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one. There are people dying and it’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all.”

I traveled to remote mountains of Ethiopia under the auspices of Church World Service. Our mission was to witness the reality of the situation and see whether our fundraising help was actually reaching the people. I was not eager to go to feeding camps. I dreaded going where everyone was dying. And, it touched me deeply.

The feeding camp was an array of hundreds of white tents emblazoned with “From Israel with love.” Nurses from many countries welcomed each migrant family fleeing barren villages in search of sustenance. Crates of nourishing food were carefully unloaded and managed by men of Ethiopia. It was as though the whole world was pouring energy and hope into this one place, for the sake of the people.

In a hospital tent emaciated children lay on pallets. A mother was cradling her young son, weak with starvation. This was a living image of Michelangelo’s “Pieta,” Mary the mother cradling her crucified son. A nurse was reverently spoon-feeding a young teen who had been helpless and was gaining strength. A father was wrapping his young son in a blanket quilt stitched by some woman in a faraway church, sent through Lutheran World Relief.

Outside little children chased bright blue birds that shone and soared with vitality. They wanted to sing. “Sing, sister, sing!” What could I sing with children who speak Amharic? We sang, “Old MacDonald had a farm” with animal noises. They laughed and giggled and mooed and quacked. “The sad eyes of their mothers held glimmers of hope - hope for their children, hope for life.

What a mystery! This camp of suffering and tragedy was a place giving life and hope. God was there, in the caring world community. God was there in the mothers and fathers struggling to save their children. God was there in the children at play. The spirit of resurrection was very real. May we share that resurrection spirit in our lives today!

Rev. Sally C. Fahrenthold (retired)

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