Sometimes in the middle of global upheaval, the news gets so overwhelming that we compartmentalize our emotions from our thoughts. It is easier to deal with the pain if we disconnect it from actual people. We know about it, but if we do not know the people we can distance ourselves from their circumstances and inoculate ourselves from their hurts.
That is why pictures are so powerful. Every day when we see the faces of those in Syria and Iraq who are running for their lives, sorrow grips us. Whenever we see victims of ebola lying helplessly in huts in small villages, we cannot escape the images of real people staring blankly back at us. As real families hit with enemy fire appear in photographs from Gaza or Israel, our hearts immediately engage. Soldiers and civilians in Ukraine who have been hurt or killed are just statistics to us until we see their faces. Images are indeed powerful.
The biblical mandate to take the light and love of Jesus Christ to the nations remains cerebral and theoretical until we see those faces of men, women and children who live apart from Him. That is why when I travel, I try to take pictures of people as often as I can. Some are willing subjects, others caught from a distance with a zoom lens. But it is people in need who stir the heart. The commission of Christ should be enough. The love for His glory should compel us. The desire for His kingdom to grow and be populated with as many as possible before He comes again should sustain our mission.
But those faces…each one an individual created in the image of God. Let the Spirit keep us fresh in our mission and for missions because He commanded us to go, because we are passionate about making Him known, and because we pray for the expansion of His kingdom. But let us never lose sight of those images of people who need hope, the hope that only Jesus Christ can give!