It’s been about two months now since I first heard the unsettling reports of famine swallowing up several regions in southern Somalia. I remember sifting through pages of news for relevant information, trying to form some semblance of understanding . . . resolve . . . maybe even hope. But my search ended in vain as I stared blankly at images of gaunt, lifeless children and shrouded women meandering through the dust.
Weeks later, only pockets of the international community were waking up to the crisis and were beginning, however gradually, to respond. I’m proud to say that World Help is one of the few NGOs actively dedicated to Somali relief efforts.
Still, I found myself commiserating with a few other co-workers about how little the public was informed of what has now been called the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. Conversations like these prompted our receptionist, Jess Cockran, to begin planning what would become a large-scale event on Liberty University’s campus to raise awareness of the famine.
And so it was. With the help of over 50 student volunteers and numerous corporate sponsors, the Help for the Horn Relief Concert drew crowds upward of 700 students last Friday at Liberty’s Schilling Center.
The students and guests from the community enjoyed an eclectic mix of music from several talented young artists, and were given the opportunity to learn more about the crisis itself and to get involved in making a difference.
Jesse West, director of Humanitarian Aid for World Help, shared about his recent trip to Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world—the place his perspective was changed forever. Having seen the desperation in Dadaab, Jesse found that his compassion for the Somali people took root in how he was able to identify with what he had in common with those he met that day:
Artists John Mark Pantana and Taylor Holder ushered in a time of corporate worship as a final call for students to commit to pray, give, and advocate on behalf of the victims of the famine. After the conclusion of the event, Taylor reflected on the events of the evening with these remarks:
Apart from raising thousands of dollars in relief funds for the Horn of Africa, dozens of individuals and groups have adopted the cause and are bringing awareness of the crisis to their fellow students, families, and churches. Mini-movements of all shapes and sizes are springing up everywhere with the intent of “speaking the unspoken” (Proverbs 31:8-9) on behalf of the Somali people.
In the face of such overwhelming human suffering, even the dedicated few can make a difference. I’m reminded of these words from Margaret Mead:
I have no doubt that through God’s strength, even a group of young, inexperienced college students can do something remarkable—maybe even impossible—for brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.
Simply because God is just that big.
To see more photos from the Help for the Horn Relief Concert, view our album on Facebook here.