Will There Be a Fund-Raising Concert for Pakistan?

Until the last day or two I heard nothing on the network news about the flooding in Pakistan. I first became aware of the devastation and the desperate need for help from the BBC news broadcast carried by PBS.

Why is this, I wondered. It’s not like the US has no interest in the region. I mean we have military troops on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and have long sought help from the Pakistanis in our fight against the Taliban.

It’s not like America has been stingy in responding to other world crises, whether it’s an earthquake, a hurricane, a tidal wave, or what have you. It’s not like we only respond to those close to home or to those who have governments friendly to ours.

Then why, when reports are that the flooding in Pakistan is a greater tragedy than Katrina and Hatti combined, are we not hearing more about relief efforts?

In deed, it seems the US military has done some air drops using their helicopters, but it seems a feeble effort in light of the wide-spread tragedy. Already people are dying from cholera and suffering because of dehydration. Is starvation far behind?

Acres and acres of crops are under water. The few refugee camps that are forming have no food.

But the leading headline for today’s LA Times online? “Court orders furloughs back on starting Friday.” That’s an article about a uniquely Californian problem, something that’s not a surprise in a California paper. However, the next two articles are about Iraq and General Motors. In fact, I don’t see a single mention of Pakistan on the entire home page. (For the record, the NY Times is little better, including only a link to an article about Pakistan aid lagging.)

Why this omission? I could theorize, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe all that counts is that Christians rise up to come to the aid of those who are suffering by supporting the organizations who are involved in relief efforts.

And even more important, we need to be praying for God to use this tragedy for His purposes, for His glory. Could this “natural disaster” be yet another call for the people of the world to repent of our sins?

The Old Testament is filled with instances when God brought or allowed crises to bring peoples to their knees. Sometimes they repented and turned to God. Sometimes they hardened their hearts and refused to acknowledge Him as God.

Can we not pray for a work of His Spirit to bring people to a knowledge of His Son and repentance for their disregard for Him? Can we not pray for God to be merciful and bring help in time of need? Can we not be Christ’s hands and feet (and pocketbook) to the Pakistanis so that they learn about our compassionate and loving heavenly Father through us?

Or will we trust that eventually the entertainment community will put on a Pakistani Relief Concert to provide the hundreds of thousands of dying people a little clean water?

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm  Comments (9)  
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  1. I have heard reports of the flooding on the news. I also heard the the taliban is encouraging Pakistan not to accept Western aid. Pakistan is a very dubious U.S. ally.

    Tossing It Out


  2. I heard the reports too. But I’ve heard that it’s much more serious than we realize and impacting millions of people there. It doesn’t seem to be getting much airtime.


  3. Even in places where we know what is going on the support for Pakistan is lacking. The widespread unspoken idea seems to be let ’em drown.

    What you say doesn’t surprise me at all. In the USA you would not be hearing that Russia is on fire, with the fire sweeping into Ukraine to pick up the Chernobyl vegetation and spread radioactive materials widely. Portugal is alos burning. There have been deep sea oil leaks in Nigeria, China and the Timor Sea. China also has a mass of floods going on at present.

    Never mind. Just go on watching your TV. I’m sure some minor sporting celebrity will come along and occupy everyone’s attention with public speculation about what sporting team he will join.


  4. I hate to say this, but Ken is about right. As a nation, we are extremely bitter and the emphasis of most “Christians” is not on compassion and mercy but on “justice.” We don’t see the average person who is like most of us (nearly powerless: Russian, Ukraine) or even worse off (already struggling to meet basic needs: Pakistan, East Timor, Nigeria, China.) Our current “war” has made us blind to the needs of other human beings.


  5. Oooh boy.

    I’m sorry, but I just cannot accept that God uses natural disasters this day and age to communicate God’s plan for the world.


    Sure, that was commonplace in the Old Testament. But that was before the Christic Covenant and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now that we have a direct line of communication with the Divine, God has no need to use those pre-propritiation methods of communicating God’s will.

    I’d also like to see more Christians be less holier-than-thou when talking about Christianity in general. This is a relationship between flawed and fallen individuals and the Divine God they serve.

    There are a hundred reasons that you don’t see the Pakistan disaster in major news coverage. Not the least of which is that newspapers, most of which are beyond broke, no longer have foreign desks from which they can source such news. They all rely on one or two main feeds. That essentially means that the news is the same in whichever paper you look, so more and more newspapers are trending local. They have to keep themselves in business because they have houses to pay for and children to feed and tithe to give to their churches.

    I don’t think we can infer a great crisis from the lack of coverage.

    We can infer a call to help.


  6. […] a blog that I recently started following has this to say: we need to be praying for God to use this tragedy for His purposes, for His glory. […]


  7. Lee, I guess I’m thinking that for Christians the issue shouldn’t be whether or not Pakistan is a good ally to the US or not. It shouldn’t even be whether or not the US news organizations are doing a good job covering the story. The truth is, there is tragedy some where every day.

    This one, however, has been going on for three weeks and is getting worse and worse. Actually the US government is responding and has pledged a sizable dollar amount for relief efforts. I just think Christians should do more. And I don’t think prayer is at all a small thing.



  8. Sheryl, the reports I’ve read say that millions of people are affected and the death toll, already high, is sure to climb as disease spreads. Cholera is only one of the dangers. Typhoid, yellow fever, I forget what all else. This is a major catastrophe.

    Ken, Papersmith, I’m not going to get into the speculation about why the US has heard so little about this crisis. I suspect there are lots of factors. To me, that kind of finger-pointing at this stage is counterproductive. It doesn’t help rally Christians to pray or to support relief organizations.

    And newspapers aren’t the only media outlets not treating the story in the US as a major issue. I can understand why we don’t hear a lot about the fires in Russia and all. I doubt if the Russians heard about the Mexican mayor who was kidnapped and executed by a drug cartel either.

    The situation in Pakistan is far different. I don’t think we have a grasp on how horrific it is.



  9. Katherine, I knew I was opening myself up to be considered one of “those” Christians who thinks God is a “Smiting God,” as you put it on your blog (though I don’t think I said anything to make you think I am gleeful about this situation at all). Let me put my remarks in context.

    First, you should know I’m presently reading the book of Revelation (why this is significant, I hope to make clear).

    You said in your comment God has no need to use those pre-propritiation methods of communicating God’s will. Technically he has no NEED to use any method whatsoever. He communicates because He wishes to and He communicates the way He does because it fulfills His purposes.

    I’ve thought about this a lot, though I won’t say I’ve studied it apart from Scripture. My belief is that God isn’t finished with dealing with nations. Yes, He deals with individuals today, but then He always did.

    Scripture says God created a new nation which is the Church. In other words, He sees us as individuals and He sees us as a group. We together are His bride, and so on.

    In addition, prophecy seems to indicate that God hasn’t finished doing what He wants to do with the nation of Israel.

    In short, it seems that God still works on the national level even as He works at the individual level.

    Then there is Revelation. No matter how you view this book of prophecy, it seems to me that the implication of these verses is clear:

    The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
    – Rev 9:20-21

    God won’t be “sacrificing” those people (a third of mankind, it says), because He knows what we don’t and He is just and good. However, the clear implication is that the rest of mankind should repent when these things take place, but they won’t.

    I in no way think God is punishing Pakistan in order to teach the US a lesson, or Britain, Australia, France or any place else. I don’t pretend to know why He allows a catastrophe like this to happen in Pakistan and not in Saudi Arabia or why Haiti was hit with a killer earthquake, not California.

    The point is, any of these “natural” disasters should sober us, make us realize, despite our posturing that we can “fix” our planet with our green policies and our global outlook, we are not God.

    He is the Sovereign, and we ought to be on our faces before Him asking for His mercy and confessing our sins and turning from them.

    That’s the only reasonable response to any tragedy—to see God giving us a chance to draw near to Him.

    I think our culture has us convinced that we have the right to live our lives, when in fact God gave the human race the death sentence for our sin. Any day of life we enjoy is because of God’s mercy.

    But society says Man is good, life is our right. Therefore, death is always undeserved. Consequently, God has nothing to do with it OR He is a cruel ogre for allowing or causing it OR He simply doesn’t exist and we’ll address our concerns from here on out to Mother Nature.

    Remarkably this attitude has infected the Church.

    Well, that was probably a lot more “context” than you were interested in, Katherine. Sorry for getting carried away. 😳



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