It was painful to watch the agony this young man suffered because of the death of his beautiful wife and child. What was even more painful is the fact that Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease! Yet, there are still up to 2.7 million deaths each year from Malaria. If this was happening in the US, there would be every effort made to stop it. If this was happening to our next door neighbor, we would respond with more urgency.
We can read the statistics but there is something about a real life story put in front of you that stirs your emotions more than numbers. I watched the reaction to the story on both of my daughters’ faces and they were obviously really taken back by this sad story. My heart was also broken.
A little while later, Olivia found me in the kitchen putting dishes away. I could tell that she was on the verge of tears and when I asked what was wrong, she told me she was having a hard time breathing, so I suggested she step out into the porch for a few minutes for fresh air.
When she came back in, I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen and she began speaking what was on her mind and what may have been the cause of her shortness of breath.
She appeared to be under a lot of distress. She told Steve and I that the story of the young African man who lost his wife and unborn child really scared her. She has always been a compassionate child but there was something about this American Idol episode that really stirred her emotions and broke her heart.
She relayed something to the effect that she was having a hard time breathing because she was overwhelmed with the knowledge of the unfairness of so many suffering in the world, despite our own family's wealth.
With tears in her eyes, great passion behind her voice and breathing even heavier, she turned to Steve and I and said, "Why don't we do something about this!" "I mean, come on people! What is going on?" "Why do we just sit here with so much while others are so poor?" "Why don't we actually DO something instead of TALKING about doing something?!"
Very good questions!
She went on to say that she feels like God wants our family to do something big, something that would make a big difference and change the lives of many.
I walked her upstairs to her bed at that moment, her tears subsided and the two of us prayed, asking God to reveal to us what he has in store for our family. Olivia has the gift of prayer and hearing God speak to her. She shares with us when she hears from God and I can tell when it is real and not her imagination. In fact during our adoption journey, she had some very prophetic things spoken to her that actually came true.
After we prayed, I could see the heaviness lifted from her little body and she was breathing normal once again. We both felt an overwhelming peace and pledged to have a family prayer and meeting about what is next for our family.
God has broken our hearts over and over again on this journey. He's refining us and preparing us for something. Our family has been praying and brainstorming ways to give back, ways that would be most sustainable for those who need our help most. We don't know exactly what God has in store for us but we know He is preparing us.
One thing I love about the faith of a child, as in Olivia, is that they don't have any fear about going to battle. Us adults have all kinds of excuses but a child doesn't understand how there could be anything in the way of joining the army to fight against poverty.
As an adult, sometimes when God takes our breath away or causes our heart to break, we feel trapped in our life styles and our own inequities. But for Olivia, when God took her breath away and caused her to grieve for what He grieves for, He got her attention and she is not going to let it rest. That's what I love about the fearless and determined heart of a child.
Our family has been keeping our eye on opportunities and areas to serve. Since our trip to Ethiopia, it has been on our hearts to give back to our son's birth country. I know my dear Olivia will be holding us accountable and pushing us to respond quicker.
"Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act." (Proverbs 24:12)