The reports on the victims of the recent Sabah earthquake have been for me, most horrifying to read. As the names of the bodies identified were listed, I realized that I had trained some of these students and had even worked with the teacher who had lost his life, just last year. Up till now, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the deaths of children; especially children whom I’ve had close contact with, children who shared their lives and aspirations with me with such excitement.
Not wanting to be overwhelmed by the flurry of updates on social media, I turned to the Bible for what it had to say about children. Do you know that in the NIV (2011) version, there are 459 mentions of the word “children”? Also noteworthy is that many of God’s life-changing promises were made to individuals who were considered merely children to the world. These included key Bible characters such as David, who was anointed king over Israel as a young boy and Samuel, who was called to be a prophet in his childhood. There were also those God called even before they were born, like Jeremiah and John the Baptist. In the New Testament, we also see Jesus involving a young boy (and his lunch) in one of the biggest feeding miracles ever! Clearly, God values young lives and children are precious to Him.
While some might say that the quake was an unavoidable natural disaster, to see seven young lives snuffed out just like that is a devastating experience to families, schools and practically, the entire nation. And if we look at the larger reality, we see the loss of young lives every day through other means including atrocities like child slavery, child prostitution as well as poor living conditions, which could lead to severe malnutrition, AIDS and even infant mortality.
Yet, as we mourn and feel the heartbreak of their loss, let’s be comforted by the good that is coming out of this tragic episode that we can learn from and lend our support to. As youth pen their condolences to the families of the casualties, I have been heartened to see many of them being personally challenged to do something for children in their own ways. I read a post of a 17-year-old student who appealed to her readers to stop the injustice of children all over Southeast Asia, asking adults to turn their mourning into positive action. In another dedication, a group of college students is starting a foundation to support students who are too poor to afford adventure learning programs.
As for believers, may we pray for the children and avail ourselves to reach out to them. Jesus himself taught us to let the little children come to Him for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14). Let’s consider how we can point them to the Lord. Some questions that may be worth considering are: Who are the children around us whom we can reach out too? Are our churches lacking in Sunday school helpers or children outreach befrienders? How can we be God’s ministers to the children whom He loves?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Share your thoughts in the comment section!