Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Absence of Love

I'm reading an amazing book right now. In case you hadn't noticed, I love to read. I mention a lot of books in my posts. I've been a reader since childhood. To be honest, I tend toward fiction as a way to escape stress in everyday life, but every now and then I'll get on a little kick and devour some nonfiction. I've noticed that the only nonfiction I seem to truly enjoy revolves around either human rights or academic theology.
The book I'm in the midst of now is called "Escape from Camp 14" and it details the story of a man named Shin who was born and raised in a North Korean labor camp and managed to escape. He is the only person born in a labor camp who has escaped, to the best of the authors' knowledge.

I'm halfway through the book. Shin's story is a brutal one. It's clear that the North Korean population as a whole is denied much, but the labor camp populations are for all intents and purposes, living out the lives of concentration camp prisoners--in many cases from birth to death.  North Korea denies the existence of these labor camps, despite the ability of any Westerner with "Google Earth" to zoom in on the country and clearly see the fences surrounding the compounds.

Though the story told in the book is one of a physically brutal existence--one even those living in poverty in the United States would likely struggle to imagine--what really struck at my heart was one statement in the book. The author states, "During his years in the camp he [Shin] said he had never once heard the world "love," certainly not from his mother..."

Can you imagine emerging into your 20s having NEVER once heard the word "Love"?  Having been isolated in a black hole of a nation, with no hope for a future outside the bleak physical struggle and starvation of the thousands around you; beaten and starving with little knowledge of a giant world existing just outside the confines of your relatively small country, and with the concept drilled into you since birth that you are worthless-absolutely nothing...all because of who you were born to?

In my relatively uneducated opinion as regards human rights violations over the past centuries, the conditions in North Korea must surely be one of the worst human rights situations in modern times.

Here's the thing. Shin and the countless other North Koreans suffering in isolation, poverty, starvation, and unawareness of a God who loves and values them are just examples of a vast GLOBAL population of children in poverty who have rarely, if ever, heard someone say they are loved and valued.

Do you want to make a difference in the world today? I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the way to make a real difference in the future is to feed the souls of the children. The more I learn about who the real victims are in situations of dire need, the more I'm convinced that children always receive the brunt of the abuse and the least love. Who do we think those kids will grow up to be if they are starved of love, starved of hope? What are we expecting?
If we want a more peaceful world, with cross-cultural understanding and shared dreams then we need to feed those values to the children. Our children, our neighbors' children, and the global population of children. I don't mean force-feed our ideals. I mean SHOW LOVE. If each person shows love, compassion, patience, understanding, sympathy....those seeds will grow and develop as God intended.

You have the chance to help. You can sponsor a child and feed that child not only food, but words of love and encouragement...hope and dreams.  Please help, and please pray--for all the children, but please pray specifically for the population of North Korea. God knows they need it.


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