By Vincent Kituku
Just take a moment and think of someone waking up and going somewhere to wait for help without knowing whether or not he or she will get the help, nor when and how. Also think of how that vulnerable individual feels when the help seems to finally be available – but still they don’t get helped. While that is a scenario in the Bible, working with and for poverty-stricken people puts biblical incidences and miracles into perspective.
In John 5: 2-7a, we read: “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
“And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ The impotent man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool…’ “
For most of us, it is unimaginable to think of how someone can suffer for 38 years, waiting for help. Then whenever that help seems to be available, someone else (who has somebody to help him/her to receive the help), gets it.
The point is, help can be there, but only someone with a helper can be helped.
When I go to Kenya, this biblical scenario is a reality that occurs repeatedly, breaking my heart each time. Only my driver and the owner of the place where I am going know when I will arrive. Not even my parents or our employees at Caring Hearts High School know. My daily schedule is also unknown.
December 12 is Kenya’s Independence Day, one of the most important holidays in the country, when no one is expected to work. I had stopped by our school (which we were renovating to start the girls’ boarding school in a few days) to pick up something on my way to the airport for my return trip to America. Only the watchman was supposed to be there. But there was an elderly shoeless woman with a young girl (in torn clothes) just sitting on the ground.
When I asked them what they were doing, I was informed that they had been coming from time to time, hoping that they could meet me and explain their need for help with the girl’s high school tuition. They had walked more than five miles, one way. It was also evident they had not had anything to eat.
The problem was, the grandmother and her granddaughter had gone to the school several times and no one had helped them by just getting her information and passing it to me. That inaction would have led a girl to languish in poverty for the rest of her life.
That is like one of many occasions that I have gone to my elementary school – that I left in 1974 and rarely visit – and still find someone who stops by regularly, hoping that I am there. There was a father of a high school boy who learned that I was in the country and went to the school each day, and when he finally saw me, he broke down. Again, all someone had to do was get the man’s information, call or email me. But there was no one who did that. We sponsored his son and now he is in university.
In most cases, our fellow human beings suffer because we do nothing. We don’t have to give tangible help. The fact is, sometimes our greatest contribution is not material resources but any act that shows someone that we care. To care, we must be compassionate – and act.