Michael Buerk on the Ethiopian Famine.

Michael Buerk
Michael Buerk

I just caught the end of ‘On this Day - Correspondents’ on Radio 4. It was based around the horrible Ethiopian famine that took place in 1984 and the experiences of those involved in the relief effort, including Bob Geldof who was fundamental in the birth of ‘Live Aid’.

Michael Buerk and his camera Man, ‘Mohammed Amin’ were on the scene to record and relay to a shocked World, this awful event. Regarding my faith, what caught my attention nearing the end of the program was how this had effected Michael, who said something along the lines of...

It took away from me, any idea that there was a ‘higher being’ looking down on us.

I’m sure that wasn’t his exact phrase, but it was something along those lines. What I took from that, was that the horror of what he had witnessed had convinced him that there could not possibly be an ‘all powerful - all loving God’ looking down over us. Seeing those innocent children dying before his eyes must have brought to the surface powerful emotions that just had to be answered... and what other conclusion could he have come to without a knowledge of the truth?

I remember far too clearly, an awful event that took place in my childhood. At the tender age of just ten, totally unprepared and without any warning whatsoever, I witnessed the sudden and traumatic death of my five year old sister, when she with my then seven year old brother were hit by a passing car, that had no regard for the tiny children disembarking from our school bus. She being hit so hard that her tiny body reached the height of the double-decker we had been travelling on, before crashing to the tarmac below. Nearly forty years later, I can still recall running to my bedroom that over-looked that gruesome scene, falling immediately to my knees and praying to a God that I neither knew, nor had been introduced to... but had only heard of at various times through my then short life, pleading with Him to take my life in exchange for theirs (my Sister died yet my brother lived).

I can still recall the sight of my Mother crouched over the horribly twisted body of my dying Sister, trying to put her back together again and save her failing life... something that even skilled doctors couldn’t do, with all of their training and great knowledge. And then experiencing the aftermath of a broken and traumatised family, with all the suffering that entails. All of this, only to be approached some years later by a group of enthusiastic Christian teenagers, whom with smiling faces declared to me that “Jesus, the all powerful and all loving God, deeply loves and cares for me”!
Struggling to restrain myself, it was all I could do to ask them “What ‘all powerful and all loving God’ were they talking about? ”. So I can totally understand where Michael Buerk was coming from when he made his statement regarding the horrors of what lay before him.

At the time I met those eager young Christians, I reasoned within myself... if He is ‘all loving and all powerful’, His Love would have compelled Him to use His great Powers to prevent the horrific event of my childhood, so with no other information at hand... I concluded that either:

  1. He is ‘All loving’ but doesn’t have the power do help.
  2. He is ‘All powerful’ but dosn't really care.
  3. Or... there is no God.

These are, I’m sure you would agree... quite ‘logical’ conclusions that one might come to with no other information to draw from, even a conclusion that Michael Buerk arrived at when witnessing the horrific scenes that stretched-out before him back in 1984.

However, if the ‘logical’ mind is to be consistent, regarding what we witness around us, other questions ought to be thought upon too. For instance, why does a happily married man, with a beautiful wife and loverly children risk all and break his own heart when paying for oral sex? What possible evolutionary benefit can be understood by adult attraction to animals, minors, same-sex sexual acts or other strange and deviant perversions?

Why is it so common in war for seemingly respectable people to suddenly become rapists, murderers and abusers of all who fall under their power, if mankind is as many would suggest ‘basically good at heart’? Why do so many of us delight in the fall and disgrace of another? How can a person stand by and watch friends or family go without, lose their home, car or suffer loss whilst they themselves live in relative abundance?

Underneath the veneer of what we call today ‘society’, is the raging potential for greed, violence, murder and every abominable perversion imaginable. Ask those in Iraq, Los Angeles or any other disaster area... just what happens when law and order breaks down. We may consider ourselves excluded from such base behaviour whist abiding in relative safety, who if alarmed or injured may with one phone call, received a small army of well equipped professional helpers to rally to our aid. But put a man in a vulnerable situation, or with not enough to go around and he may very well slit your throat to protect himself and those he ‘loves’. Alternatively, give him absolute power with impunity, and in a very short time those burning desires for revenge, lust, and even those secret fantasies may very well be acted upon.... and there are things that have passed through the minds of men that should not even be spoken of, let alone acted on.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart [of Mankind] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The Bible declares from cover to cover that the heart of mank is desperately sick! And more, that the source of this sickness stems from a powerful entity whom long ago corrupted our kind, and today through fear, lust, greed, hatred and all that offends... bends the minds of men to his will. And in so doing, he mocks Mankind’s only means of escape... Jesus our Lord...

1 John 3:8
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

...even God’s only begotten Son, who for our sakes became a man that He might pay the price for the sins of a man! I’m talking of cause of the promised one, foretold in the Scriptures of truth long before He came, Jesus the Christ, or in the Hebrew... Yeshua [the] Messiah!

Luke 24:25-27
25 - He said to them [two despondent followers after His crucifixion], “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [Of Christ]
26 - Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
27 - And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

And this Jesus, whom having made a way of escape for us through suffering, suffers still. For it grieves Him to see the horrors committed upon the Earth because of sin, while He as His servants Noah and Lot before Him, calls as many to glory as will listen... before the door of salvation is finally, completely and forever slammed shut.
Of which He Himself gives us an example when recalling His judgement upon the ancient World, when they, just as the World today had completely corrupted themselves.

Luke 17:26-26
26 - And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27 - They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28 - Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29 - But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30 - Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

And so gazing at the horrors around, even the result of our own sins we ask “how can there be a God”, ignorant of His patience and long suffering. For they do not understand, nor do they comprehend that He is coming just as the Scriptures have foretold, and that in the day He brings an end to sin, He will also bring an everlasting end to all those who have not separated themselves from their sins. For they will find themselves on the wrong side of grace, having rejected God’s only provision for sin... even the first coming of the Holy one, who then came as a payment of sin but soon comes as an avenger of all those who remain in it.

2 Peter 3:9-10
9 - The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

For a little while longer then, the battle rages... and the likes of Michael Buerk, having being deceived by the ‘god of this age’, will continue to respond with contempt at any suggestion that there is in fact, an all powerful and loving God watching over the affairs of men, who say in their hearts... “there is no God” and as those before the Flood, walk according to the god whom they serve...

2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: