The Larger Calamity

On that dreadful Tuesday afternoon in January 2010, Port-au-Prince was, in a blink of an eye, pushed off a cliff into an abyss of despair. How should a follower of Christ respond to such a catastrophe, or, on a bigger picture, respond to the systemic evils of racism, hatred, injustice, poverty and the countless deaths from preventable diseases? In response to the news reports from Haiti, churches all across the United States and around the world responded with great generosity by writing checks to reputable relief organizations, which was vitally important to Haiti’s recovery.

But the larger calamity is the silent hunger, sickness and death that march on without notice year after year destroying countless lives in many developing nations that has yet to penetrate the consciousness of most Christians. Sure, we are vaguely aware of the plight of the chronically poor around the world, but we do not see a steady stream of heart-breaking images that can rally the world, at least for a short period of time, to action they way they did after natural disasters such as the hurricane induced flooding in New Orleans, the tsunami in Indonesia and the earthquake in Haiti.

My job (actually my vocation) is to capture and show images from the silent, unseen disasters that are happening every day all around the world and in our own backyard
in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles, where I have spent many brutally sad and dispiriting months with the homeless, including thousands upon thousands of innocent children living in cars, tents and overcrowded missions, surrounded by drugs, mental illness and violence. But it is not only despair that I capture with my camera, for if it were, I would simply put a gun to my head now to escape the chamber of torture that I have witnessed. What I also capture is hope, hope writ large by the lives of quiet, everyday, humble saints’ who truly exemplify the self-emptying love of Christ and who are a manifestation of God’s boundless love and mercy in the lives of the neglected poor who have known nothing but misery.

At this moment my fledgling ministry, Pax et Bonum Communications, is in dire need of funding to complete Mud Pies & Kites, our film set in Haiti. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about the film…and how it will not only help one quiet, everyday, humble saint working in Haiti, but also help raise awareness in the hearts of young people in America about the importance of mercy and compassion.

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