For Those of You Who Haven’t

Written by Seth Thomas, April 8, 2017

For those of you who haven’t been in a Latin American church, they can be breathtaking upon the first glance. Apostles and various images of Mary and Jesus litter the ways with several scenes of the crucifixion following their visitors through the cathedral. Angels sing in large plaster choirs backed by erupting suns and beams of painted light signifying the majesty of the occasion. Churches down there are made to impress.

It was down here that one of my darker memories was impressed on me.
After serving at the VIDA clinics, we had come to Granada, Nicaragua to see the city before heading off to the airport to come home. One of the cathedrals had a large plaster Jesus staring out from the inside at the visitors as they filed in the church. Most of the visitors were well dressed and showed no signs of monetary distress. Outside the gates, an emaciated and dirty man was seated with his hands held out, asking for money. His clothes were barely there and he had not eaten for a while from what I could observe.

What bothered me about the scene was the utter lack of attention drawn to him. Although easily 40-50 people passed by in the few minutes that we looked into the church (besides our group), nobody paid him any attention. I could see plaster Jesus eyeing me, our group, the visitors, and our beggar down, but it was as if he didn’t exist.

Perhaps it had been the poverty that I had witnessed in Nicaragua throughout the week. Perhaps I had simply found it unacceptable that so many people could ignore a beggar in from of the figurative eyes of God. In any case, I later tried to return to give him something that could buy him lunch or dinner for the day. Unfortunately, he had already gone away before I returned. We shortly left thereafter with me reminiscing the scene in my head for a while after.

This is not to say that I or any of us can help every beggar find security and comfort in this life. If I could, I would absolutely do it. But I am neither that rich or individually influential to accomplish such a feat at the moment and I have high doubts that I shall reach that status at all, though my future position as a medical doctor will give me more power to reach that goal. But perhaps if we were to find one soul who needed our assistance and would help them, then perhaps the accumulation of good deeds would at least amount to a smaller amount of people stuck in such situations. Our power to positively influence the planet is only as limited as we choose to collectively believe, and one person making a difference can inspire many.

The memory of the man and the church still haunt me to this day. I see his eyes pleading for assistance and the people who chose to ignore him.