Friday, December 1, 2000

Read Isaiah 65:17-20

"No more shall there be an infant that lives but a few days . . ."

William drove the car for our mission household. He lived in the servants' quarters on the school grounds with his wife, Mavis, and son James. When James was about three, Mavis became pregnant; we missionaries got a regular update on her condition as we were driven back and forth from home. She was very sick. My housemates and I made regular trips to see her and to take her nourishing food. When a second son was born, William was ecstatic. However, Joseph was small and sickly. I went with them to the clinic and to get the prescribed medicines. I held the baby and cuddled him and tried to will him back to health. But it was to no avail. He died when only a few weeks old. It was a hard lesson for a young missionary. The cumulative effects of poverty the lack of prenatal care, of good nutrition for his mother, of adequate medical care, and his parents' lack of education take their toll on the youngest and weakest. I also learned how callous institutions could be toward the plight of the poor, especially when they deal with so many who are so sick.

The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. This document declares that all children have a right to love and security, healthy food to eat, a decent place to live, adequate medical care, protection from abuse, and good education. Although 135 nations have ratified it, the United States has not. I wonder how many babies still die for the same reasons as Joseph? How can we as citizens allow our country to be so callous toward the plight of the babies of the world? How can we personalize the statistics so that people will care?

In Advent we anticipate the birth of baby, a baby that was born in poverty, reared in humble circumstances, and became the hope of the world. Let us keep hope alive as we work for the rights of all the children of the world. --SFG

Prayer: Lord, help me to love the children. Amen.

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