The latest picture of my grandson shows a plump, peaceful almost-4-month-old boy blissfully sleeping on a soft brown blanket.
Most days since his birth May 10, I get one of these pictures from my daughter snapped with her cell phone camera. Four of the dearest words to me these days are, “You have picture mail.”
But it is another baby picture I saw recently that haunts me.
It is a mother cradling her severely malnourished 7-month-old baby in a hospital in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. The 7-month-old looks like a tiny skeleton. It is painful to see starvation up close in one so helpless.
The worst drought in decades is affecting millions of people in the Horn of Africa. The photo was taken by Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary who is also a photographer and writer. Jeffrey goes to the worst places on the planet to show us what suffering looks like.
As a United Methodist news writer, I have seen my own share of suffering children in Africa, Haiti, the Philippines and Mexico. Each one of them has left a mark on my heart.
- The beautiful little girl in a shabby gray dress poking through the garbage in Smoky Mountain, Manila, Philippines.
- The small naked boy getting his teeth cleaned by his father in the soccer stadium in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
- The shy barefoot girl standing in the streaming sewage-filled water flowing through her neighborhood in Luanda, Angola.
The one that lingers the most is 8-month-old Domingos Antonic lying on a white sheet in a hospital in Luanda. He died of malaria minutes after I left his room.
God is so good, yet so many people – so many children – suffer.
I don’t have any wisdom to offer. Maybe the best I can do is appreciate and love the children in my life and pray for those beyond my touch.
If you want to help, send your contribution to the
United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Kathy L. Gilbert has been a news writer at United Methodist Communication since 2002, covering The United Methodist Church around the globe. However, she started her most adventurous job May 10, 2011, when James Cayden Lawson, her first grandchild, was born.