A reflection on The Eve of the 2016 VPI Fundraiser
Somewhere in the communities of Papoli, Uganda and Mombin Crochu, Haiti tonight, a child was born. The child was born under the same full moon that shone on that child before it shone on us in Tampa tonight. That child’s mother loves that child just as much as I love my grandson who was born 6 months ago. But that child was born in a hut, without running water or electricity – not because the child is inferior to my grandchild, but because a mysterious Providence has ordered the world without equity for infants. That child will be brought to the village church and baptized with a Christian liturgy astonishingly parallel to the one I will use in the morning here at Palma Ceia Church.
Two months from now, if my grandchild becomes ill, we will treat him here with antibiotics rehydration fluid, and nutrient. He will most likely survive and grow strong and we will presume that as the outcome. But, when that moment of need comes for a child born without access to medical care, she may die simply because of where she was born. Her parents and grandparents may weep with grief because they cannot get simple medications, nutrients, or even a supply of clean water. I have been to villages in Haiti and Uganda and I have seen children die an anguishing death.
Because of the work we did tonight, more children will live. Because of the planning, preparing, inviting friends, setting up, hosting, breaking down and putting away – the long, hard, tedious work – a child born in a village in Haiti or Uganda will grow up and perhaps, in God’s mercy, will be a blessing in the wider world.
I find it’s that simple. And I’ve seen those children again and again. We do this work and they live. We don’t do this work, and they die. We cannot do all the work and it would be arrogant, even idolatrous, to think we could save all the children. But for some mysterious, Divine reason, we were placed in relationships, friendships and opportunities where working together we could help, support, and even save the lives of children in Mombin and Papoli. Where else could we have done that tonight, with a fundraiser disguised as a “Sixties” party?
I really do not understand why the world is designed in such a way that creatures as capricious as humans can make that sort of life and death difference with things like work, and generosity, and sixties nostalgia. But that’s the way God has designed the world. And on behalf of those parents and grandparents in those other places who live without the abundance we all inherited by being born in this place, I’m deeply grateful you did the work of tonight. I’m grateful you did the work that will allow children to live.
I’m humbled to work amongst you. You are together an extraordinary team of friends and a powerful team. I believe God delights in your work. And I know Jesus loves those children.
– Rev John DeBevoise