While visiting my in-laws’ church this weekend, I heard a most profound statement. The pastor was talking about how one allows his heart to be shaped by experiences God brings into his life. He referred to his visits to orphanages in Honduras and nursing homes in America. He talked of how much he hated going to places where the line between advantaged and disadvantaged is glaringly clear.
I could identify with his memories of that burning ache that begins in the pit of his stomach and seers its way to his heart; of not being able to eat lunch after viewing the sadness in these places. The fact that he hates to go is not in itself wrong at all. He went on to explain that he goes out of obedience, believing that God takes him there, not necessarily for his contribution, but to keep him in a place where he can remain responsive to God’s heart.
Then he said something I found to be simple, yet profound. He said, “After encountering such places, I have found it impossible to live the same within my financial context.” I am sure this truth has been shared many times by many writers in many different ways, but today it put words to why our partners continue to give of themselves. Not a single month goes by that I don’t feel a deep sense of awe and gratitude when I see the email detailing the transferred funds from the US account to the Kenya account to feed the kids. I don’t know all of our donors by name, but I know your hearts. Your selflessness is evident in your sacrifice. Much like the Samaritan, you have chosen to be a neighbor to those who need a hand.
One such child is named Lorine. I met her when she was interviewing at the school for the first time. The world outside of the academy had not been so kind to this young lady. If I am to be honest, she made me uncomfortable. The scars that lined her face distracted from her other features. She had little control of her lips and facial muscles, and refused to look me straight in the eye. I couldn’t understand her words and gave up trying to figure out her name. It wasn’t her scars that really bothered me – it was her sadness with them.
Last year, I told her story. I have to be honest, it is a delicate matter for me to share a child’s hurts – whether physical or emotional or both. I really struggled with that blog post, but Lorine needed a “neighbor’s” help. It took a year for the doctors and her family to get the proper paperwork in order, but a few weeks ago, thanks to her “neighbors” who so selflessly gave, Lorine finally received the surgery she needed.
I received a text message shortly after she was sent to recovery. It said, “She is good but a bit tired. It took about 6 hours for the surgery as the burns were so deep, but praise the Lord, wow, already as you see her face one can see God’s miracle. For sure, Mama Zawa [that’s me], we suffer for lack of money, but more of all WHO can take the burden but God. Phoebe was with me in the hospital and could not believe her eyes. Thank you for all those who were part of this effort. Lorine is so happy and saying when she grows up she wants to become a doctor so that she will be able to help many as she has been helped.”
Who knows…maybe she will! Her story is not fully written, but those who gave, those who dreamed a difference for her, and those who prayed…have all become a part of a greater story, a story that mirrors a heart shaped by God.