What Price One Panther?
Alligator Alley, Florida State Road 84, runs east west from Fort Lauderdale to Naples, Florida. The 80 mile long highway cuts right across the normal roaming area of 30 Florida panthers.
Kind Americans, through State and Federal government processes, are about to spend $342 million to slow the extinction of these wonderful shy creatures who, not knowing the rules of the road, are occasionally knocked down by passing cars at night Alligator Alley is about to have 23 additional underpasses created and a fence placed around it.
As Christians we can applaud the sensitivities that lead to this use of taxpayer's money. But we do well, I think, to recall the classic scene recounted by the late John Mackay of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Back in the days of aristocracy, a theater in Moscow was jammed by society people to witness a stage play depicting the plight of the poor and the injustices they faced. Many in the audience were moved to tears. Before the evening was over, they had drenched their handkerchiefs with tears of deeply felt grief for the plight of the poor.
But then the play was over and these warm, tearful patrons of thefine arts went out into the freezing night to find their carriages. Their attendants had waited by the vehicles. The masters walked up. but many of their servants could not move to give them a hand. They had frozen to death wailing for their masters to return.
Yes, it is perfectly possible to shed tears over injustice in general white totally ignoring homicidal neglect near at hand or out of sight.
Citizens of the United States are about to spend $342 million to help prolong the lives of 30 panthers which are not expected to survive anyhow. But one human tribal society is neglected into extinction every month In our world today, and no one notice! Thirty thousand' children in Miami alone are neglected by dnag abusing parents; who notices? Fourteen million children wander the streets of Brazil, abandoned by their parents; who cares?
Jesus cares! He said he came, at least partially, to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children' (Luke 1:17; Mal. 4:6), and he is doing this right now in literally millions of families.
When will we realize that this gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the only true power of God unto salvation, both in America and in foreign lands? When will we put our money seine money into the hands of the vast, silently laboring mission agencies of this land, those whose frugal but efficient efforts are striking at the very roots of these problems the world over?
If United States citizens are willing to spend $it million to save one Florida panther, is it unreasonable to ask evangelicals to pay U million to complete the founding of the U.S. Center for World Mission an agency dedicated to saving multiple thousands of peoples around the world?
That thought crossed my mind as I read the newspaper column.
I wonder: Can we hope to reach enough people who will pay $16.95 to pay off this property? Can we expet to rush one third of their income, temporarily, to stave off collapse of a project that is designed to herald the cause of a billion precious children around the world - children whose parents have not yet had their hearts warmed and renewed by an encounter with the child-loving Jesus of our gospel?
We all have pets, precious little animals we must are for. But is there any obvious reason why evangelicals in America should spend more on their pets than on the entire mission cause we so frugally support?
How about members of our staff who are eking out a living on maybe 23% of their full support because churches don't see the value of the behind-the-scenes mission work we are doing?
I'm glad that we have lasted nine years. In this sin-wrecked world that is a miracle.