When I was in junior high school I felt a strange affinity to Omaha. I could not explain it but it felt as if I was being called there. It made no sense. I had never been there and did not like cold weather. (I still do not like cold weather.) At the age of 16 I left an abusive home and found myself on the streets of Omaha. It was not easy but it changed my life for the better. Thirty-five years later I can look back and see God’s fingerprints on my journey, protecting and guiding me along the way. I specifically recall one family who helped me in countless ways when there was absolutely no way I could ever repay them. I remember them telling me that someday I would be in a position to help someone else and that would be their repayment.
The call to Haiti has been much like that call to Omaha. It makes no readily apparent, obvious and logical sense. On a deep, soul level, it makes complete sense. God has orchestrated this every step of the way. He has allowed life experiences which enable me to relate and effectively communicate His love and grace to others. He has gone before me and has provided in ways that can only be attributed to Him.
In Haiti, Biblical truths come to life. I see stories from the pages of my Bible played out on a daily basis. They are no longer abstract concepts but they are real people with feelings, cares, concerns, hopes and dreams. And they are living today, not some two thousand years ago.
A woman sleeps on the sidewalk. She is covered with dust from the streets. Her clothes are worn and tattered. I am hesitant to wake her. She appears to be physically healthy but each time I pass by her I think of the story of the injured man laying on the ground with people walking past him without helping.
Frail old men and women sit along the street with their hand out begging for a morsel of food or spare change. I can’t help but think of the beggar at the door of the church and Peter saying he has nothing to offer but the power of Jesus and how the man had been limiting himself.
Then there are the children, young children, living on the streets. They beg for anything to survive. What will become of them? What choices will they make as they grow older?
God has blessed me with the honor and privilege of knowing and being trusted by a dozen young men who started living on the streets as early as the age of six. Chronologically they are eighteen years old or older now but in many ways, they are like junior high boys. Any mother who feels her job as a mother is unimportant and trivial (Don’t we all feel that way at times?) need only spend time with an orphan to realize just how important having a mom, or someone who cares for you, truly is. Things that I took for granted with my children in the States – attending sporting events, preparing a meal, sharing a meal or time together, birthday parties, parent/teacher conferences, doctoring a wound – are a big deal to these boys. I don’t know how to put it all in words but if my being here make the life of just one of those twelve boys better and they can go forward to someday be in a position to help someone else, it is all more than worth it.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12