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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

A World Away

As we watch the devastation in Ukraine, the lock downs in China and the genocide taking place in Africa, our hearts go out to the people in those places, and we respond by giving and encouraging our government and others to do the same.

It seems as if, in times like these, we become motivated to care about those who are “a world away” while ignoring the multitudes of people living in abject poverty and desolation within our own cities and towns.

The sense the people closest to us are less important than those who are far away seems to be accepted and acceptable.


Perhaps we feel people in our nation and the communities where we live have no excuse for their situation, while assuming people elsewhere do. Certainly, things like war are exceptions to this type of thinking. Yet, I submit in many ways there is a war raging in the hearts and minds of countless people who live all around us.

Their battle is with mental illness, addictions, demonic torment, and poverty. Homelessness, prostitution, and death are the effects of this war.

The question is, should our response be any different here than it is “a world away”?

What if it wasn’t? What if we were just as compassionate and compelled to believe we should give, and our churches and our governments should provide for the needs of the people in our communities? How much of a difference could we make in the lives of our brothers and sisters who are struggling?

The answers are easy to see, but the desire to do so seems to be minimal. I am convinced this is because we feel people who suffer like those mentioned have no excuse for their plight.

Further, if we are honest, we feel no responsibility for helping them until they prove they are willing to help themselves.

How interesting is it we have a different perception regarding those “a world away” than we do for those right next door?

I am as guilty as anyone when I observe those, I see who are destitute and living in desperate situations. When I think about that, it saddens me I do not realize, but for the grace of God, I could be in the same situation they find themselves.

You see, my life choices early on were leading me down the same road of destruction where the helpless and homeless find themselves. The only thing that kept me from reaching a similar depth of despair was the love of my wife and the acceptance and forgiveness of my Savior.

As with many, my problems were not “a world away”, they were and are still right in front of me. This realization has given me reason to pause and consider my responsibility in helping those less fortunate than I am.

From here, I hope to see the value in those who seem to believe they have no value. I have decided to see them the way Jesus sees me. This starts with my world and is not limited to those who are “a world away”.

Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

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