Here’s what I want.
I want that gate to still be there.
The one that wrapped around the church in Manta, Ecuador. The one that kept purity and safety inside and evil outside. The gate the Compassion Bloggers and I were ushered into as soon as we stepped off our bus. I heard the loud clink of the gate latch secure and I looked back to see groupings of men parked in their pick up trucks just sitting there. Looking in. Waiting to get theirs. And I wrote an open letter to the girls of Manta.
On Saturday, April 16 an earthquake hit Ecuador and there is a reported 480 (and climbing) death toll. I could not sleep that night because I kept running pictures of the girls I met in Manta through my head. This community that lives in desperate poverty. They already had nothing.
And what is less than nothing?
Here’s what I want. I want that church in Manta to still be standing. I want to know that after the world shook for these children they knew exactly where to run. Straight behind the gate. Right into that church.
In 2010 the Haiti earthquake killed more than 220,000 people. And we all, all the people under the sun, watched horrified. Six weeks later Chile was struck by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake – which was reported to be 500 times more powerful than the quake in Haiti but killed less than 1% of the Haitian total.*
Poverty has no hiding place. It doesn’t have safety precautions. There is no earthquake insurance.
When my heart swells and I am horrified. I am heartbroken. I am scared for those girls. I am hurting for those mamas – I have to put aside everything I want. I have to repeat to myself what I know.
This is what we know.
Compassion is in Ecuador. The Compassion Ecuadorian employees are working day and night to assess the damage as well as the immediate needs and the longterm needs. They are working to track down every single child in the Compassion program in Ecuador.
All 65,600 children. We will account for each one.
I know that we have a disaster relief fund that is already being utilized by the Ecuador office to provide urgent needs like water, food, shelter, medical help. Right now.
I know I met the pastor and the volunteers at that church in Manta. The ones the children flocked to and loved. The ones that knew every child’s name and where they live.
The ones that spoke love and great worth into the bursting hearts of these children.
The ones that cooked a hearty meal for the children – the only meal the kids would eat that day.
This is what I really know. If that gate is gone and the church flattened – it is really just a structure.
And God’s power is in His people.
I know I can pray. I know I can donate to the Disaster Relief fund. I know I can write my sponsored child.
What I know is children in poverty, on a good day, are completely vulnerable. On a bad day, on a day when an earthquake hits and takes everything, it feels like hope forgot to show up. And if there is one thing I have learned about hope, it’s that sometimes we need to hold onto it for others. Sometimes the only hope we have is that someone will come along and say, “Hey, I see your despair. I know you can’t find hope right now. Let me hope for you.”
And I know these kids need us to hope for them right about now.
Note: Just a few months ago the Compassion Bloggers and I were in Ecuador. We actually weren’t supposed to travel to Manta but when He called us there we went. I am so grateful I got to meet the beautiful children of this community. We held their hands, listened to their stories, played hard with them, prayed hard with them. We fell in love. Read posts from Shannan and Ashley on the earthquake. And Ruth is graciously donating all proceeds from this print to the Disaster Relief Fund.
Please consider sponsoring a child from Ecuador. The need is so great and your action can change a life.
A huge thank you to our amazing photographer Mike Varel for capturing these images.
*Statsitics cited from InsideDisaster.com