Rachel Thompson, OneWay's partner relations director, shares her compassion for the world and why it matters.
World events in 2023 left me with an ache.
An ache for those whose lives were tragically and utterly upended by natural disaster, war or the cruelty of man.
These events also left me with a responsibility: a responsibility to care. I know it’s a simple word, but I’ve learned it isn’t an insignificant thing to do.
The problems that unfolded across the globe in 2023 were far more than anyone but God can solve. But at least I can care. Because if I don’t at least care, it means I’m indifferent — even apathetic — to what millions of people are suffering through.
So yes, the least I can do is to care.
At least I can be concerned about those who will miss a meal today because they are on the run from war in Sudan. I can enter into the pain of the women being brutally raped in the midst of the conflict. I can grieve with those who have lost husbands and homes to genocide – not two decades ago in some far-off struggle, but just last month — in a place as real as my own.
At least I can care about those still grieving the 50,000 lives lost in the 2023 Turkey/Syria earthquake. I can weep with those whose neighborhoods and daily routines will never look like they did before the earth shook and everything crumbled to the ground. I can care about those who still have no place to call home as winter settles in.
At least I can make an effort to stay informed about the terror that people in Israel and Gaza are living through on a daily basis. I can try to imagine how I would feel if a bomb could drop on my home at any moment. I can think what it would be like to bury my son or daughter killed in the line of duty or in an airstrike.
I can’t stop the hurt or comfort all who grieve. But at least I can care.
Jesus cared. He had compassion on the crowds who were hungry. He wept with the family of Lazarus when He saw them in their grief. He cared about the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.
Unlike Jesus, I don’t have the ability to fix all the problems I see. But that doesn’t mean caring doesn’t matter.
There is something very Christlike about being crushed in heart by someone else’s pain. There is something virtuous about being concerned about the suffering of a fellow human being.
“Real care excludes indifference and is the opposite of apathy,” wrote Henri Nouwen.
In Ezekiel 16, we read: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Among other things, the people of Sodom simply didn’t care — at least not about anyone but themselves. And they certainly didn’t lift a finger to help those in need.
Why does caring matter? Here are a few things I’ve realized:
If I don’t care, I won’t try to stay aware.
“Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest, ” Jesus said in John 4:35.
There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” How can I care about others if I don’t get my eyes past my own little world of the things that interest and entertain me? I have to intentionally try to see world events that might not be in front of me, but are very real to someone else.
I regularly Google things like “Sudan war” or “persecution in Pakistan” to pull up news stories I won’t find in the mainstream. I look for stories or videos that share what another human is experiencing. Sometimes I cry. But that’s a good thing, because it means I’m starting to care.
If I don’t care, I won’t pray.
We tend to pray for the things that are most present in our hearts and minds. What we care about informs our prayers. As I try to turn my care toward people in need, I am drawn to pray for them. I’m drawn to ask God to intervene in their situation. I’m moved to ask God to raise up believers who can minister to them where they are.
If I don’t care, I won’t act.
When we are oblivious to a situation, we can’t act on it. When we are aware and praying, our tendency to want to take the next step and do something increases. When I care, I look for ways I can take action. I look for ways to practically help.
If I don’t care, I’m a much less grateful person.
When I care about people in need and try to enter into the depths of what they are experiencing, my perspective changes. I look around and feel overwhelming gratitude for the blessings in my life. My next meal. The roof over my head. The warm, peaceful bed I sleep in. The constant presence and love of God no matter what I’m going through.
So if you tend to feel overwhelmed by the problems of the world and emotionally check out because it just feels too painful, confusing or irrelevant to stay engaged, be encouraged to take a different approach in 2024.
Try instead to fuel godly concern by staying aware of what’s happening across the globe. Find out who’s suffering. Mourn with those who mourn. Pray for their comfort and salvation. And ask God if there are any practical ways He wants you to help.
As we care about people God loves and weeps for, we share in the fellowship in His sufferings. We draw closer to His heart and closer to His purpose for us as the salt and light of the earth. Lastly, we find ourselves longing in increasing ways for the One who is making all things new.
One great way to stay informed of stories you may not find in the mainstream is through OneWay’s Mission Network News team. Each day MNN releases three stories you can hear by radio, online or on your favorite podcast player.
Find more ways to care for the world in our free resource: Eight ways to grow your heart for the world. Download it here.