My heart is heavy as I write this article, for I believe life is a gift from God and every life has value. The earthquake in Turkey and Syria last month has resulted in more than 40,000 lives lost. The number is still growing and the number of those who have been severely injured is vast. I cannot imagine the grief and pain families are experiencing as the result of this tragedy. There are several relief efforts from around the world seeking to provide help, yet the grief and pain from the lives lost will never be erased. I know that in the coming days and months, this tragedy will be something of the past to many people, but to the people who experienced it, the memory will last a lifetime.
As I continue to pray, I constantly think about how God’s people can respond. However, I quickly realized how many lives have been lost in our country, not through earthquakes, but through storms and other catastrophes. The thought that has repeatedly come to my mind is, how many lives have been lost through the ungodly killings that take place on our streets every day? Have we become oblivious to the killings and shootings that have become everyday realities?
In far too many cases, there seems to be no real value of life. We may not experience 40,000 lost at one time, but over these last number of years, far too many deaths have occurred. Life is indeed a gift from God, as every life means something to God, and should mean something to us. There seems to be no relief efforts that will stop these ungodly killings in our own communities. We see our neighborhoods and buildings crumbling, not as the result of an earthquake, but rather as the result of social decay. Our streets are full of rubbish, and no one seems to care.
Our children are victims, and their lives are taken away too early. Where is our help coming from when we need it? As people of God, we are compelled to help, whether in Turkey, Syria or any other place where people live. The whole world belongs to God, and we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Our voices must be raised all over this word, in Africa, India and wherever people face challenge.
One life lost is too many. We hear the Lord’s words, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” I was moved as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church to pray for our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria, and send a relief offering to One Great Hour of Sharing, American Baptist Churches. At the same time, we also prayed for our nation, cities and suburbs, and will financially support the agencies that seek to help those in need.
We also pray to God that this violence will end, and that we do not reach that 40,000 mark of killings and lives lost, in our own communities. Please let us put an end to all violence and realize that life is a precious gift from God, and every life matters.