song: you know me bethel
location: quito, ecuador
read time: 7 minutes
on saturday, april 16th, the coastline of ecuador was rocked with a 7.8 earthquake that completely destroyed the cities built near the water. i was sitting at a restaurant about eight hours away from the epicenter drinking a glass of wine with my redheaded roommate and two of our friends. the restaurant shook intensely for about three minutes. at the time, we had no idea the gravity of what was happening. in the moment, all we knew was that we had all just experienced the most intense earthquake of our lives. (and coming from california — the land of earthquakes, that means a lot. i am no stranger to earthquakes. heck! i grew up in elementary school with earthquake drills where we’d have to get away from the windows and hide under our desks.) as the night went on, we discovered that what we felt was only a fraction of what the coastline of ecuador felt — they felt something so much bigger, more intense, more fierce, more devastating. what they felt destroyed their homes and the places they built memories in. as the days pass — the death toll keeps rising. at least 500 people have died, with hundreds still missing.
my heart breaks.
to be honest, i’ve had a flood of mixed emotions over the past few days. yesterday, had i taken the time to sit down and write this article — you’d be reading something much different. i had a title picked out and everything— “screw the cool kids club”. the title stemmed from a frustration, a hurt, a disappointment in the rest of humanity to care about the situation in ecuador. like, really care.
let me explain —
technology, media, and social platforms have given us all the opportunity that we didn’t have a decade ago. in today’s world, when disaster strikes — everyone knows immediately. tweets are sent out, CNN makes a headline, drudge report sends out its memos, facebook is swarmed with a million and one posts about the tragedy, and instagram is flooded with images saying “praying for (fill in the country)”.
while there were mentions of ecuador on CNN and drudge report made the earthquake its main headline right after the incident — it seems like that’s it. that’s all that happened. it was a comment in the news, that’s it. nothing more.
as americans living in ecuador, many of us went straight to social media to tell the story and recruit help. the earthquake directly impacted us — not just because we felt it, but because we’ve been there. we have friends and know people who live in the cities that have been destroyed. we’ve walked the streets, we’ve celebrated there, we’ve watched the sunsets there, we’ve built memories there. the cities on the coast of ecuador mean something to us. infact, it wasn’t more than two weeks ago that i was in manta, ecuador celebrating my twenty-ninth birthday. it could have been me. the earthquake came 12 days after i left and it completely obliterated the streets i walked on my birthday, the restaurants i ate at, the places i built memories.
however, despite all our efforts— the story of ecuador did not go viral. unlike other recent tragedies— facebook profiles were not changed to the colors of ecuador’s flag, instagram posts were not blasted out saying “praying for ecuador”, and it felt like the world did not pull together to stand with ecuador.
to be brutally honest— i struggled with this. intensely. tears have flooded my eyes because of this— it hurt to feel like no one saw ecuador, no one was willing to look at the rawness, the pain, and the hurt in the eyes. in a way, i took personal offense because i live here and for the past three months i’ve called ecuador my home.
i had a whole theory and rant that i was going to publish about the secret cool kid club and my theories that if ecuador was more of a “cool” country people would have cared about the devastation that took everyone by surprise.
i woke up this morning with intention of writing THAT article — shaming the cool kid club, shaming people who only care about humanitarian projects that are deemed as cool and popular.
as i was getting ready for the day and praying for some genius idea for wild hearts, something in my heart changed. the song “you know me” by steffany frizzell gretzinger (from bethel) was playing in the background and the lyrics caught me:
You have been and You will be
You have seen and You will see
You know when i rise and when i fall
when i come or go You see it all
You hung the stars and you move the sea
and still You know me
nothing is hidden from Your sight
wherever i go, You find me
you know every detail of my life
You are God and You don’t miss a thing
in an instant – my heart changed, my thought process changed. my rants about the cool kid club suddenly seemed unimportant because i realized — God sees. nothing is hidden from his sight. God sees the destruction happening on the coast of ecuador, God sees the devastation, God hears the cries of the people still trapped in buildings, God sees the mother mourning over the loss of her child, God sees the injured, God sees the family that lost their home, God sees the business owner that lost his restaurant — God sees. He hasn’t missed a thing.
as an advocate for justice — i want people to see and care about the issues i see. i want people to see the gravity of the situation here in ecuador. i want it to break people’s hearts in the same way it breaks mine. i want people to feel what i feel. i want people to weep when i weep.
what i really wanted is for america and my community at large to step in and be a part of the rescue effort. i wanted to see humanity as a whole to come to the rescue.
i wanted justice.
what i failed to initially see, or rather— remember, is that God is justice. God is the only rescue effort we truly need. in the psalms, God promises that when we call out to him — he will show up on the scenes of our lives to help us. “God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.” (psalm 36.5-11)
while the past four days, it seemed like ecuador was unseen and that the rest of the world was ignoring the devastation the country was experiencing — the whole time we have been seen. God is God — he sits on the throne. nothing is hidden from His sight. He’s seen this situation and in all his goodness, He is stepping on the scenes bring restoration to the brokenness. He’s coming to the rescue and bringing an army of help.
help has come, but not in the way i was imagining it. help didn’t come because the media pushed the news of ecuador’s earthquake to the rest of the world or because it went viral on social media — help came from within. everyday, since the initial earthquake, on saturday, ecuador has been banding together. every day, rain or shine, the people of quito have been bringing donations to a central location at the park. the steps of the park are filled with boxes and boxes of donations, jugs of water, and food. everyday, the people of quito fill trucks to the brim with donations and send them out send to manabi, the earthquake’s epicenter. ecuadorians gather together at this central location and stand together. they wave the ecuadorian flag and hold signs that say “manabi necesita tu!” as cars drive by. and as the sun sets and night rolls in, the city lights candles on the park steps.
it’s hard to fight the tears that force their way down my face as i drive home and watch ecuador band together— it’s beautiful. God sees. He’s given ecuador the strength they need, the courage they need to be each other’s help. He’s coming to their rescue.
since the initial quake, there have been at least 21 other notable earthquakes to hit the coast. this morning, another earthquake hit that was 6.1 on the richter scale leaving some areas of the coast unaccessible because the roads have completely destroyed.
it breaks my heart— shatters it, to be truthful. hearing the stories, knowing some of the ugly truths —it’s hard. but despite it all, i know this — God cares, his love for the people of ecuador is astronomical, nothing gets lost with God. God is justice, God is love, God is faithful.
what i’ve learned in all of this is simple: we have plans, but God’s plans are higher. we have our ideas of how help ought to come, but God has his own ideas which always outdo ours. while i wanted to see some grand gesture appear in the media and across social media channels, a grand gesture is happening— but it’s happening in the hearts of the people here in ecuador. it’s happening in a more beautiful and grand way that i could have conceived on my own.
i am ending this soon — so hang tight because i want to say just one last thing…
i don’t know where you are, what you are going through, or what you are experiencing— perhaps, you feel like i did. perhaps you feel unseen and that the whole world is moving and no one is pausing to see how you are. perhaps, you feel like you need someone to rescue you and no one is coming. perhaps, you feel like injustice is happening and everyone is turning away from looking the situation in the eye.
wherever you are, know this: God sees you. be still. know that He is God— He sits on the throne. nothing is hidden from his sight. His love for you is astronomical — He will be your rescue, your justice, your peace, your strength, and your courage. you are not alone. He is with you.
okay, here is the ending. really.
it’s a challenge and in some ways a call to action—
when disaster strikes— may we not run to the world to be our rescue, but may we turn our eyes on Jesus. may we remember that God sees us, He’ll never turn his back on us, He’ll always show up on the scenes of our lives. may first and foremost, we turn to Him to be our rescue.
when calamity hits— may we always be aware that humanity needs us to show them love, compassion, and hope. may we stand by each other always— not just when it’s popular or convenient. may we never underestimate that we have something to offer — we have hope inside of us. we have a voice when other’s voices are being silenced.
when the earth shakes— may we always remember that God is good and his love for us is astronomical. in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
LAUS DEO — praise be to God.
if you would like to be a part of the relief effort in ecuador here is how you can help
big or small, you can help. whether it’s by joining go international’s relief trip to ecuador this june or by donating. margaret meade said it best, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world — indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” last but not least, pray. ecuador needs your prayers. never underestimate the power of your prayers. they are the strongest force there is.