Give beyond today’s headlines

This past week, the world received a kick in its generosity pants when Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines. News outlets and relief organizations have been all over the disaster, as well they should. The stories and photos coming out of places like Tacoblan, a storm-ravaged city in the central Philippines, are horrifying.

There’s no question the need is great.

Philippines cropped

In a rush to help, international aid organizations are falling over themselves to get our attention and our gifts.  And despite the annual occurrence of giant-scale disasters, the giving public is responding. Once again, the worst of nature is bringing out the best in humanity.

And once again, I wonder why it takes an “act of God” to get our attention. It is sad – incredibly so – that Typhoon Haiyan has claimed 2,000 or more lives and disrupted hundreds of thousands of others.

We should respond.

But as I write a check, it breaks my heart that an even bigger disaster goes mostly unnoticed, year after year, decade after decade.  I’m talking about the 29,000 children under the age of 5 who die EVERY DAY, mainly from preventable causes. According to the World Health Organization, more than 70 per cent of the almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.


During my years on the board of MAP (Medical Assistance Programs) International, I saw first-hand the difficulty of getting attention for long-running crises. Reporters who’ve been there and donors who’ve done that aren’t much interested in circling round again to a repeat story.

How many children have to die in a day to qualify as a typhoon-level story?

I urge your gift(s) in response to the situation in the Philippines. (If you’re wondering where to give, let me suggest Mennonite Central Committee and/or MAP International. Both have my seal of approval.) But don’t stop there.

Look beyond today’s headlines and think about the children.

I challenge you, me, all of us, to match dollar for dollar what we give in aid to the Philippines with a gift that will bring life-saving medicines, or clean water, or food, or shelter to a child and his or her family and community.

There’s a disaster going mostly unnoticed and we don’t need the media to spur us to action. All we need do is ask what God requires of us. Then give – again and again and again – in the name of the One who called the children to Himself and declared them the chief citizens of heaven.


  1. Kevin King says:

    Preach it sister! Amen!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Kevin. I am deeply grateful for organizations like Mennonite Disaster Service, which having committed “hand to plow” stick with the work until it’s done.

  2. Thanks for this important challenge, Rebekah.

  3. I live in this world on a daily basis as the organization I serve does both relief in disasters and year round care of children and aiding the suffering world wide. I wanted to encourage you to know that the amounts given to us and other similar ministries annually for clean water, emergency feeding, medical and child protection and development is enormous, to the tune of 110M every year! So many, many donors are aware and called to generous giving in these areas regardless of media telling them they need to step up. We bring them the stories instead. Wouldn’t it be incredible if the daily plight of our brothers and sisters globally was deemed newsworthy by Americans? As well as the incredibly brave and sacrificial nature of those responding to those needs year after year? I keep praying it would be so.

    • I am deeply grateful, Merideth, for organizations that are persistent and present for the long haul in serving the poorest of the world’s poor — and particularly children. Praise God for the millions of dollars that are contributed every year toward alleviating everyday suffering, but I can’t get it out of my mind that so much more could/would be given if Americans weren’t inclined toward what I call ambulance chasing giving.

      Blessings in your work.

      • Wow, me either. I heard a statistic recently that if the evangelical Christian church alone tithed 10% of their income to missions instead of the actual 1-2%, poverty would be irradiated. Unreal! I have seen an amazing trend of growing generosity at Samaritans Purse. We haven’t had a global disaster like this since Japan and Haiti, and donors sent 11M and 78M respectively within weeks of those events. But in two years without those, giving to children, medical, water, vulnerable women and children and discipleship projects increased by 18M to 210M per year. That blows me away. I know families giving nearly half their income to these needs annually. God is calling people forward to provide healing and hope in powerful ways, we should be encouraged and inspired to do more 🙂 miss you, by the way!

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