When Thoughts & Prayers Are Not Enough

Today, 12 years after, New Yorkers and the whole nation re-live September 11 on our TV screens, memories, and hearts. There is one phrase that is commonly heard “the families are in our thoughts and prayers,” “New York City is in our thoughts and prayers,” go just about anywhere and you can hear, watch, or read the phrase “in our thoughts and prayers.”  It seems as if this is the best we can muster in moments like these “you are in our thoughts and prayers.” I wonder if once these words are said, if there are really thoughts and prayers, or if we just say them because it is the right thing to say and then just move on, without thinking or praying for those going through the hard times.

I believe there are times when thoughts and prayers are not enough. There are times which call for Christians and for humanity as a whole to go beyond thoughts and prayers. I would say “thoughts, prayers, and compassion.” What is Compassion? Compassion is a combination of thoughts, prayers, and actions. There are times when actions speak louder and are better than thoughts and prayers. Compassion is the results of thoughts. Compassion is an answer to prayers. Compassion is thoughts and prayers taken to the next level.

I thought it was fitting that on the eve of September 11, this past Sunday, over 600 Adventist youth, young adult, children, and adult volunteers in Far Rockaway came together to distribute 4,000 school bags to the children and teens affected by Super-Storm Sandy, Joanne, Jose III, Joel, and I were excited to join them. Thoughts, prayers, and Compassion, like what we experienced on Sunday, were much better than thoughts and prayers alone.

Perhaps you ask, what can I do to help New York during this 12th Anniversary of September 11?

Let’s begin with the simple things: smile to people, greet them in the streets even, if they look unfriendly or miserable, hug them if possible, give out some roses to families who lost loved ones on that terrible day, don’t just tell them that you  are praying, actually pray with them on the spot, invite someone to eat in your home or at a restaurant, call someone and tell them how much you love him or her, take some food to a family in need, visit a hospital, stop a Police officer, a fireman or woman, or a member of the EMTs and thank them for what they do for your community and for you, squeeze in a hug if possible, you will see the smiles. Have your church invite first responders for potluck (fellowship meal) and feed them in your church. All these go beyond an expression of just “thoughts and prayers.”

The Adventist Youth and Young Adults in New York City are doing much during this trying period in which the city remembers its most horrible day, I would invite you to join them in the following:

1. The Passion Play, the Risen (this Saturday at Camp Berkshire) has been planned by Pastor Andres Peralta and his team to bring hope to the New York City community and its surroundings during this Anniversary. For more info: http://gnycyouth.com/?page_id=1217

2. The Pathfinder Parade & Fair (this Sunday in Brooklyn) planned by Pastor Roger Wade, Gregory Carmichael, and their team to help children and teens enjoy ministry and display their talents. This brings hope in times of sadness. For more info contact the Youth Ministries Department of Northeastern Conference: (718) 291-8006

3. Next week, in the Coney Island area, 1,000 backpacks with school supplies and other items will be distributed to children and teens in the area, which remain in need, even though school has already started (info TBA via www.auyouth.com or www.compassion-now.org)

There is one more thing you can do, you can volunteer to serve at the New York City ING Marathon, which will take place, on November 3, this year. To volunteer click on the following link and register, and also encourage your friends, young adult group, school mates, and church friends to register with you: http://compassion-now.org/how-to-register-as-a-volunteer-for-the-new-york-city-ing-marathon-with-new-york-road-runners/. Serving over 47,000 marathoners while they run, walk, or wheel for special causes is an act of compassion, it goes beyond the mere and oversused “thoughts and prayers.”

If you can only think and can’t do any more, then just think, it is better than nothing. If you can only think and pray and can’t do more, then think and pray, that’s is actually good. But if you can think, pray, and be compassionate, then you will do what Jesus did, and that is awesome. He thought, He prayed, and He went beyond and still does today, through you and me.