Crying freedom in the spring, for Ukrainians and others too
Azalea blooms unfurl across Fayetteville’s front yards, heralding the arrival of spring. March winds rustle through the loblolly pines as birds chirp from intertwined branches of newly minted pinecones. The kids are skateboarding down the hilly streets while a neighbor’s grill gives off the appetizing aromas of searing steaks.
In the midst of our often “taken for granted” daily blessings, my heart cries for the loss of freedom and normalcy not only of Ukrainians, but also of Sudanese, Yemenis, Syrians, Haitians, Afghans, Colombians and other people caught up in the horrors of war, drug-related violence, starvation, dislocation, fear and despair.
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My heart cries for the elderly whose golden age is being shattered by the selfish ambitions of belligerent national leaders who have no respect for those they kill and maim. My tears are for the grandparents with no medicine, no health care, and little sleep as the bombs roll through the air.
I cry for the children who have neither food nor drinking water; for families who endure little hope, no peace and face impending death as chaos chokes every breath they take. My heart cries for mothers holding bleeding babies and teenagers hovering over dying parents.
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Indeed, my heart cries, “Let freedom ring” in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Can we hear the desperate cries of Ukrainians in Mariupol: “Give me freedom or give me death?” Can we hear cries from kyiv to Khartoum; from Kharkiv to Kabul?
If we truly hear their cries, we must respond with acts of compassion through UNICEF and other humanitarian aid organizations like CARE USA, Doctors Without Borders, and Church World Service. May our tears move us to make generous sacrificial offerings this season of Lent and beyond to help freedom resonate from Ukraine to Haiti.
May our cries generate advocacy for public policies that help the poor and desperate in our world. Go online to find the Bread for the World group and help them urge Congress to support funding for programs to prevent and treat child malnutrition around the world.
Yes, these are just a few examples of how we can cry out for spring for the victims of war in tangible ways that can help alleviate some human suffering. We certainly pray that one day men will stop studying warfare and turn their swords into plowshares.
Hear our cries, O Lord. Incline your ear to us and grant us your peace!
Dr. Johnson is Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Church, Moore Street in Fayetteville and the author of the book “Alligator Courage”. He can be contacted at [email protected]