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When They Leave Our Story (#GrowDeep)
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Of all the girls in our ministry, Salome* had the most potential.  Despite all the trauma in her life, she had risen above and not just survived, but thrived.

She was deeply dedicated to God, displaying genuine love and gratitude.

She was a hard worker, showing grit in quantities I hade never seen.

She was a reluctant, yet capable leader among her peers.

She was wise beyond her years in her decision-making, not just looking at the immediate but focusing on the long term. 

And most important, she stayed away from boys, despite their constant pursuit.  So many of her classmates had drop out of school because of a teenage pregnancy. 

I don't have favorites, but if I did, she would have been one of them. My wife felt the same way for sure.  Salome was a diamond in a rough.  An outlier.  And it wasn't just us who saw this. She was on a national morning show in Honduras and stole the heart of the nation and the host, who promised her a job once she graduated (in front of a television audience).

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But after four years of investment in Salome, we received bittersweet news. She was leaving to be adopted by a pastor’s family hours away from us. We had only one day’s notice that her grandma was sending her to the other side of the country. As a goodbye gift, my wife gave Salome her only pair of diamond earrings. And she told her, "Despite all the challenges in your life, you have developed into a diamond.  And you are immeasurably valuable in the eyes of God."  Shortly after Salome left us she ran away from the pastor’s family who loved her so dearly. Her departure was so unexpected, so mysterious. And no one had any idea where she’d gone. My wife and I were left with nothing but grief.

Though you may have not experienced the same situation as my wife and me, we have all experienced something similar. We have all poured ourselves out and spent ourselves on behalf of children.  We love and serve orphans and vulnerable children around the world.  We plead to God on their behalf, we support them financially, and we write them letters.  Things are heading the right direction. Change is becoming evident. Miracles are occurring at an alarming rate.

Then, for some reason or another, the child disappears.  The child is gone. The child is no longer within our story. Maybe the child leaves the program for reasons beyond their control, or maybe they wander because of poor choices. The reason is irrelevant but the absence is felt.  We are only left to wonder.  We ask questions with no answers.

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There is a story in the book of Luke that can shed some light on this dilemma.  It’s the story of a father Jarius and his sick daughter.  Take a second to read the story found in Luke 8:40-56.  Its an incredible story filled with tension and drama and twists and truth.  A desperate father begs Jesus on his knees, publicly eschewing social norms and ignoring all sense of embarrassment, to come to his home because the love of his life, his daughter, is deathly ill.  And hope arises when Jesus says yes.  Suddenly this father has something to cling to.  If he can only get Jesus to see his daughter, maybe death can be delayed.  But on the walk to his home, Jesus stops.  Despite being surrounded by crowds, Jesus ask “Who touched me?”  No one answers and Jesus asks again.  Jarius patience is gone.  He is in a rush.  Life is literally hanging on the balance.  But Jesus is not moving.  Finally someone steps forward and Jesus says some words that are probably not heard by Jarius because his eyes are on his servant running towards him.

“Your daughter is dead.”

The uncomfortable silence seems to last for eternity.  The last hope Jarius was clinging to is extinguished.  His anguish speaks loudly. “Your daughter is beyond your reach.  Beyond your power.  She is no longer in your story.”

But surprisingly Jesus ignores the servant’s message and turns to Jarius. Looking directly into his eyes and his soul, Jesus says "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

It's Gods way of saying, “your daughter is still within My story because I am the author.”

You have reached your limits. 

You have run out of hope. 

You’re at a dead-end. 

Nothing else is possible. 

Death is the finale. 

 

But I have not reached My limit. 

You can still hope in Me. 

I don't have dead ends. 

With Me nothing is impossible. 

Death is not My finale. 

Hebrews 12:2 calls God the “author and finisher of our faith.”  We are still in His story.

God put the daughter in Jarius’ life, and during that time he loved her.  Then one day she is gone where he can’t reach her.  But Jesus still can.  She is still in the palm of His hands.

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If you are going to work with orphans and vulnerable children for the long haul, you have to hold on to this truth with everything you have.

God is the author of my story.  And their story.

And when our stories intersect, when God puts a child in my story, my job is to love them as Christ has loved me.  We represent Christ to them.  That time might be one day, one week, one month, one year, one decade, one lifetime.  It might only be one conversation over one minute.  During that time I’m accountable for how I serve that child.  But when the child leaves our story, we will continue to have faith that they are still in God’s story.

He says to us, “Don’t be afraid.  Just believe.”  He is authoring their story.

We might wonder. We might worry. We might fret. Just like Jarius did because we don’t know what their story will be.  “Why now?” and “Are they safe?” and “Who is checking on them?” and “Will we ever see them again?”

Again, God says, “Don’t be afraid.  Just believe.”

Ten years after Salome disappeared, she contacted my wife on Facebook. She said, “Elise, I wanted to thank you and Rey so much for your words and support of my life! I am here in college, thanks to God. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

We still pray for Salome knowing God has her in the palm of His hands. God is the author and finisher of Salome’s story.

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This whole journey is one of faith.  From beginning to end.  Faith that God brought the child into our life.  And Faith that He will be with them when they are gone from our life.  We can love these children knowing that our work in the Lord is not in vain.  God is not wasting anything we do for His children.

So while they are in your story, do these things. Pray.  Serve.  Love.  Encourage.   Spend your self on their behalf.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to find out what happened to Salome when she left our story, but was still in God’s story. But that won’t always be the case. Sometimes we won’t know until heaven what has happened to the children we love. But we need to hold onto faith and keep praying in the meantime. Because our prayers, like these children’s souls, are eternal.

* Name changed to protect her privacy


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