Many of us find ourselves distressed by the news each day. While a great deal of the information broadcast by news organisations at the moment seems designed purely to trigger unnecessary emotional distress, some communicates to each of us significant human tragedies that rouse our hearts to natural compassion.
In the face of the scale of large tragedies, it is easy to feel helpless, to disconnect. But the Gospel assures us that we have the strength to face even the most hopeless situations, to continue to love, to continue to care.
One natural way to show care is to pray. To allow the reality of the situation to move your heart and release that movement in prayer to the Most High. Christ assures us that our simplest prayers are heard, so there’s no need to make it complicated. Christian communities all over the world meet together in-person or online to form prayer circles – to pray together about the same things.
I want to pick out three things present for me in the news this week to ask you to care about. My suggestion is that you consider two things: to pray and to act. Each of these disasters is in need of your help, if you can give it – donations, time or materials. Each of these inspire prayer.
Join me in an online prayer circle to pray on behalf of these three situations especially over the next 48 hours (29 April to 1 May). But allow your prayer to also move you to act.
In Nepal over the weekend a massive earthquake caused huge devastation affecting tens of thousands of people and killing at least 5000, possibly many more. Nepal has many remote villages which are difficult to access, so finding and helping people is particularly difficult.
Vanuatu was hit six weeks ago by Tropical Cyclone Pam, a category five hurricane now regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in that nation’s history. The cyclone devastated much of the country and recovery will take years.
In Bali, convicted Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are in their final hours of life before facing execution by firing squad. This situation seems especially tragic here in Australia because the media has done a great job of portraying the complexities of their situation. Many Australians feel sympathy for these two convicted drug smugglers and feel they should be spared.
But I feel we should direct the compassion roused in contemplating the situation of these two men even more broadly. Nearly 800 people faced state executions globally in 2013 and Amnesty International estimates 2466 people were sentenced to death worldwide in 2014. In some countries this punishment is faced by LGBT people simply for who they sleep with or who they love.
So let us pray for the people of Nepal, for the people of Vanuatu and for everyone facing state executions, in particular Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. Pray simply, pray from your heart, but pray.
Here are some suggestions for action, but check your favourite or local organisations to see how you can help.