Written by Alyssa Esparaz
In the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the southwestern part of Haiti on August 14, 2021, six-year-old Soraya was sure of one thing: “Jesus will send me cornflakes, Grandma, wait and see.”
She told her grandmother, Ana, that she’d asked God to send them her favourite cereal. And Soraya believed He would.
Perhaps a box of cereal seems too trivial to have on your mind in the hours after your whole world has been turned upside-down. Soraya and Ana had narrowly escaped death or serious injury. Their home was flattened in the earthquake. Thankfully, they were safe at the Compassion centre at the local church when it happened, which likely saved their lives.
The destruction caused by the earthquake was unthinkable, and it came amid immense political instability, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and the beginning of hurricane season. It also came just 11 years after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The country of Haiti is again looking at years of rebuilding.
Perhaps in such a crisis, childlike faith like Soraya’s is exactly what’s needed. As we look toward the end of another year filled with crises at home and around the world, perhaps Soraya has something to teach us.
Like little children
One of our three anchors at Compassion is that we’re child-focused. We have a lot of experience interacting with the stories and everyday lives of kids. What we’ve seen is that investing in children isn’t just one of the most powerful ways to fight poverty, but children are also powerful agents of change themselves.
We believe this aligns closely with the heart and life of Jesus. He came to us as a child—as a baby! He taught in the synagogue as a 12-year-old. And during His public ministry as an adult, He showed just how central children are in His kingdom when He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Children are so central to the kingdom that Jesus goes as far as telling everyone to become like little children: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
It can be hard to foster childlike wonder, hope, joy, and faith in our world today. So many of us have felt the pull toward cynicism this past year. But if there’s any season that invites us into childlikeness, it’s Christmas and New Year’s, with all their wonder and possibility.
What if we cultivated childlikeness as we close out this year? How would that change our perspective?
A box of cereal
Three days after the earthquake, an unfamiliar vehicle pulled up to Compassion’s local church partner, where Soraya and Ana had been staying since their home collapsed. The vehicle brought a delegation from Compassion Haiti’s national office, sent to bring emergency supplies and assess the damage. They had an emergency food pack for Soraya and her grandmother.
When Soraya opened the box of food, she looked up at her grandmother with a smile. Inside was a big red box of cornflakes. Holding out the box, she said, “I told you God would answer my prayers!”
More than ever, the world needs people of childlike faith, kindness, and hope. At the end of this year, what is your box of cornflakes—the thing that’s inviting you to pray and trust with a childlike faith? And how can you be a vessel to provide a box of cornflakes to someone else?
You can meet the real needs of children like Soraya through Gifts of Compassion.
Photos and field reporting by Erick Jura, Compassion Haiti.