As I write, the sun is just beginning to rise again over a leveled landscape in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, revealing scores of huddled bodies. Some are dead, and others are not, but all of their lives have been destroyed. 

In a few weeks, when Nepal is out of the headlines, will we remember the millions who are homeless, without access to clean water, basic health care, or a place to send their children to school?    

It is a scene of horror, and it is unlike anything I have personally witnessed in the 19 years I have been working in the country. We have taken care of thousands of impoverished children, drilled dozens of wells, and built hundreds of church buildings to serve and show love to people of our faith and of other faiths.

In a few weeks, when Nepal is out of the headlines, will we remember the millions who are homeless, without access to clean water, basic health care, or a place to send their children to school?    

A colleague there wrote to tell me of two churches, with congregations inside, that were meeting during the earthquake, each was totally destroyed by landslides, and in each, everyone perished. 

Can you imagine the terror?

Hundreds of thousands of people are too traumatized to even set foot in their homes, choosing instead to sleep outside in the streets with whatever bedding they can salvage. To add insult to injury, heavy rains have plagued large parts of Nepal—drenching survivors and making rescue efforts unbelievably difficult.  The aftershocks are ever present and hope seems to be declining by the minute.

For more than forty years I’ve been on the frontlines of some of the world’s most devastating natural disasters, but when I first heard the news of this particular earthquake my heart immediately sank because I knew personally the vulnerability of a place like this to a disaster like this one. 

So, I did as I’ve done with so many natural disasters before, I stopped for a few moments to pray, and then I picked up the phone to get to work.  See, I believe that we must “pray” like everything depends upon God, and “work” like everything depends upon us because “faith without works is dead.” 

In a moment like this the world must respond with overwhelming compassion and the world must do so with the same determination with which we would overload this nation with overwhelming force should it threaten our natural security.  

We sympathize. 

We can tweet. 

We can “send our thoughts and prayers.” 

But, the truth is that we rarely act as we could, and if compassion doesn’t drive us then at least our self-interest should. 

For when we don’t respond, or don’t respond quickly enough, we compound these disasters in a way that causes all kinds of subsequent problems like political instability, abject poverty, and disease.  An immediate, humanitarian response to a crisis like this is the first hedge against subsequent issues like pandemic disease, political instability, and radicalism. 

But, even more than that, it’s just the right thing to do.  America must always be known as an overwhelmingly compassionate nation, and not just an overwhelmingly strong one.

We also mustn’t just rely entirely on government to do it.  

The truth is that government aid programs can be slow and insufficient whereas private, charitable organizations work more quickly, with experienced local partners, and with higher levels of accountability and lower levels of overhead. 

In post-earthquake Haiti, when many of the international relief agencies were packing up and millions of dollars of embargoed American aid were sitting in debris-ridden harbors and impassable roads, World Help was working in tandem with established local partners – whom we had worked with for decades -- to begin rebuilding from the ground up. 

Let us, as individuals, help the people of Nepal the way we hope someone would help us.

In a few weeks, when Nepal is out of the headlines, will we remember the millions who are homeless, without access to clean water, basic health care, or a place to send their children to school?  

Let us not forget that Jesus wept when he heard of the death of Lazarus, but he also raised him from the dead. In Nepal, we must go now and do the same . . . today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come.  

We must raise this dying nation back to life, together … all of us.

Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of World Help, a Christian humanitarian organization that exists to serve the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished communities around the world, providing "help for today and hope for tomorrow." For information on its projects in Nepal, visit: www.worldhelp.net/Nepal