|OST PEOPLE WERE DONE WITH WORK FOR THE DAY WHEN THE January 12, 2010, earthquake unexpectedly rumbled through Haiti, crumbling buildings and shattering lives. In a moment an already-struggling country sustained a decimating blow—and the hearts of many around the globe constricted in sympathy and pain for persons affected by the disaster.
In a beleaguered economy people immediately loosed their purse strings and gave in record amounts. Governments donated the use of heavy machinery (barges, aircraft and carriers, etc.) and pledged millions (as of this writing, close to $1 billion had been pledged). Celebrities have encouraged donation through Twitter and text messaging (Haitian American musician Wyclef Jean’s foundation, for example, was receiving 10,000 texts an hour a short time after news of the quake broke, with some donating just $5 a text).* A U.S. telethon with famous musicians and actors broke records. And people here at the General Conference building were attempting to raise $1 million for ADRA’s work in Haiti. Medical professionals and many others also donated supplies and their time to treat victims. People, it seems, gave in record numbers, looking to supply help and hope for Haiti.
Weeks before the Haitian quake I had been thinking about how busy my life had become. Thinking, and lamenting, about the fact that I’ve barely participated in volunteer work since my first child was born six years ago. I’d been praying about not having enough time to volunteer, asking God to help me find ways to serve Him somehow, even in small ways, when He put two people in my path who helped me realize I have more to give than I thought.
It started with an appointment away from the office. I was gone an hour longer than expected. During that hour I sat and listened to a deeply troubled woman talk about her divorce, her dad dying suddenly on a family reunion vacation, surgeries, depression, challenges with her autistic son, and another son’s recovery from an injury. I listened (while fighting the urge to look at my watch and worry about getting back to the office). I listened and told her I’d keep her in my prayers. She’s Jewish, but that didn’t matter. Her face remarkably cleared, she hugged me and promised to pray for me too.
On my way again, I stopped to make a quick purchase and chatted with a pregnant cashier who had a few weeks to go before her due date. Looking completely wilted, she mentioned that she could not sleep at night. I listened to her for a few minutes (business was slow). I gave her a little advice, then simply added, “God bless you; you’ll make it.” She smiled brightly and thanked me as I walked away.
What does this have to do with Haiti? Not much, except that it is important to recognize that when any tragedy strikes anyone, anywhere, there is always something a person can do. I’m not comparing the horrid devastation in Haiti to a worn-out pregnant woman—rather, I’m simply writing a reminder that people hurt in many different ways and whether we give a million bucks to a Haitian orphan fund or we lighten someone’s load by listening, we are doing an important deed.
We can offer aid to Haiti and—on a grander scale—humanity. If you can give big, do it! But also remember that small things make a difference, sometimes a world of difference.
We can help Haiti—our neighbors too. Yes, there is hope and help for Haiti—and humanity. And we can be a part of it.
*See Susan Kinzie, “New Technology Speeds Donations for Haiti Relief Efforts,” Washington Post, Jan. 15, 2010, p. A09.
Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published March 17, 2010.