When Helping Hurts
I suppose you heard of the baby buffalo that was euthanized last week out in Wyoming. It was sad to hear but expected given the current culture in which we live. Here is an excerpt from one of many articles on the subject.
Karen Richerson, a bystander who saw the father and son pull up with the bison in the vehicle, said the two had
genuine concern for the animal. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying," she told told East
A father and son witnessed the newborn buffalo, realized the frigid weather was making the animal cold, and thought they should act to save the creature. Stop for a minute and consider that creatures in the wild have been born into this world for thousands of years; in the heat of the tropics to the barrenness of the great white north and everywhere in between. The beauty in nature is that God created each species with distinct systems to deal with their individual weather considerations. Maternal instincts are strong and mother buffaloes care for their babies in amazing ways. It is commendable these two folks were concerned. It would have been better served for them to call the Park service and seek professional help. The Park service tried unsuccessfully to reintroduce the calf back into the herd and each time it was rejected.
Obviously, good farmers (stewards) care for their stock and try to provide the best accommodations, but what we are discussing here is a wild animal roaming free range. Tourists are instructed to 'not' feed animals and there is a minimum distance one is legally allowed to negotiate. The culture in which we find ourselves is heavily weighted toward the care of all animals and sometimes to a fault. Caring for animals is quite okay and gives credence to our responsibility to be stewards of all the animals God has given us. In this sad situation, humans stepped over a line that endangered not only themselves but eventually got a young buffalo put down. The need to help actually hurt.
I personally have questions of the Park Service and wonder why the newborn wasn't taken to an animal shelter. I suppose there are regulations about caring for endangered species and that isn't something I can speak to. I can say the father and son were given a citation for breaking park regulations. (newborn whitetail)
Having been raised on a family farm, I have a different perspective on animal care. While we provided a barn for our calf deliveries, winter still made the atmosphere cold. I can count on one hand the times calves were stillborn or a mother had trouble birthing and that over 24 years time. If God has designed nature to be able to procreate and include systems for survival, why do we think it necessary to intervene? Down deep inside, there must be an innate need to offer assistance and feel good about our efforts. Sometimes our actions are warranted and more often, they are not.
Helping that leads to hurt is often seen in human interactions too. Missionaries long ago learned the hard truths of doing work that led to broken expectations and unsuccessful ministry. Understanding our cultural context for ministry is paramount. We can't help in the best possible way if we aren't willing to know the very people God is sending us to care for and serve. As a Christian sent into the world to make disciples for Jesus Christ, I must adapt to my surroundings and take Jesus to where the person is currently living. To drag a person off the street, into my car, and then into a church would probably not be effective. In fact I might do more harm than good. Today, do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.