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Like millions of other people around the world, I watched with shock and horror as events in Paris unfolded last Friday. More than 120 people who had set out for an evening with friends and family, to attend a sporting event, a music concert, or simply to enjoy a meal together, never returned home. Hundreds more have been injured, and for many, life will never be the same.
The attacks in Paris came just hours after another, less publicized, attack took place in a city where I lived for 12 years and that I still, to a significant degree, consider as “home.” More than 40 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Beirut’s suburbs. Without the actions of one man who tackled one of the attackers, sacrificing his life in the process, the death toll would have been much higher. Yet loved ones have been lost. Children have been orphaned.
In recent weeks, people’s lives have been similarly destroyed in Iraq, Syria, Sudan and many other places. Across the world we see the evil of men blinded by hate and intent on causing fear, destruction and death in order that their own selfish desires may be met.
It is at times like this that I recall my time serving with Kids Alive as a missionary in Lebanon. I remember people anxiously trying to locate loved ones following the sound of yet another explosion in Beirut. The billows of smoke rising into the air. The anger and disbelief. The frightened faces of children as they watched rockets landing on a town just a few miles away. The anxious questions. The uncertainty and fear.
What a broken, messed-up world we live in. And the story just seems to get darker as each page is turned.
Yet we are not without hope. I see it as I visit Kids Alive’s ministry with orphans, refugees, street kids, girls who have experienced horrific abuse. Each one has a name. Each one has hopes for the future. And, for me, nothing gives me greater joy than seeing these children rise above their trauma and pain to become all that God intended for them – young men and women that are serving Him and making a difference in their families, workplaces, churches and communities.
This is the story in which we are all called to play a part. Giving hope to those that have none. Showing compassion to the ruined, the hurt and the lost of this world. Speaking out for the rights of those that have no voice. Shining some of the radiance of Christ into the darkness.
Join with me in praying for those whose lives have been broken by the events in Beirut and Paris in recent days, and for peace and stability in these beautiful countries, and around the world.
And pray that the voices of the children will still be heard amidst the enormity of this crisis. Pray that the Father, the One who calls the children to come unto Him, may continue to use us to advocate on their behalf, to compassionately serve in word and deed in delivering temporal and eternal hope.