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Saturday, October 17, 2015

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke

I had an “ah ha” moment this week while I was preparing to speak to 300 students at Changhua Senior High School in Taiwan.

I was talking about the topic of hope.  Then I talked about hopelessness.  Then I talked about evil.  And as I prepared for my presentation a link between the three became very clear to me.

I used three examples of hopelessness; Baby Shirley, Baby River and Little Phephile.

Baby Shirley’s mother was hopeless, so much so that she felt the only option she had was to dump her newborn baby in a pit latrine and then dump fire on top of her and left her to die.

Shirley "before".
Shirley "after".
Baby River’s mother was so hopeless that after she gave birth to him she put him in a plastic bag and then dumped him in the river, and left him to be eaten by river crabs.

River "before".
River "after".
Little Phephile’s mother was so hopeless that she was powerless to stop a year of abuse by family members that resulted in Phephile’s arm to be broken in five places and her leg broken in two places.

Phephile "before".
Phephile "after".
I find that people who hear these stories are quick to judge these mothers and call them “evil”.  They are also quick to sentence them for their crimes and demand the harshest of punishment.  But I don’t see it that way. I have looked directly in to the eyes of Shirley’s mother and Phephile’s mother and what I saw was hopelessness.  They were empty, dead inside, with no options, and no hope.

I showed my Taiwanese students before and after photos of these three children. The before photos represented hopelessness, and the after photos represented hope.  And then showed them a quote by Edmund Burke that I find very powerful.  It says: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Could it be that hopelessness turns in to evil when good men and women do nothing?

Could it be that River, Shirley and Phephile would not have had to suffer if their mothers could have found people who cared and acted to help them before their hopeless turned to an act of evil?

Oh how I wish we could have helped these young women when they were in need rather than having to try to put the pieces back together after their babies were injured.

After my speech was finished a young man came up to me and was visibly moved. He said that he has always wanted to stand up against injustice and make a difference in the world, but he has always been told that he wasn’t good enough and would never make a difference. I told him that he had been told lies, that he was powerful beyond measure.  Later in the day he sent me a message that read, “Today, after listening to your speech, l felt something turned to be different in my heart.”

Working and living in Africa has taught me that hope is life-saving, and life-giving.  And hopelessness is life-taking and life-threatening. 

On my darkest days when I am discouraged or wanting to give up it is inevitable that I get an message from someone from around the world writing to encourage me and remind me to keep my eyes on our only true hope … Jesus. Those words are always timely and are exactly what I needed to hear.

I pray that each of us will reach out to others with words of true HOPE when we feel prompted to do so.  You may just save a life.

Live from Taiwan … I am hopeful.


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