Today I had a moment where I wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream and cry. I am tired, so very tired, of waiting.
I have chosen to live in Niger because I want to minister to women and children. The funny thing about this is that sometimes I put this first in front of, “Whatever you ask of me…” I have this ideal in my head of what my glamorous life should look like, and sometimes I just get disappointed when things don’t go MY way. Today was just one of those days. And then that still small voice (how many of my days go like this….. this is my life people)…. that still small voice reminded me of all the good things that He has done.
And I looked directly in front of me. And I saw this….
And I decided that it’s been way too long since I have celebrated out loud- TESTIFIED- about all the things that He is doing. Because, I know the one who created the mountains. And just because this mountain in front of me (the one named Holding Babies And Hanging Out With Ladies) seems so impossible right now, that doesn’t mean that His beauty doesn’t surround me. It does. He has given me life. Abundant life. So today, in honor of all He has done, I want to tell you a story. And I want to keep telling these kinds of stories forever. Until I don’t have anything left to tell.
This story begins more than thirty years ago when a little girl named Hope Egliht lived in Houston, Texas. God knew. He gave me two sweet neighbor friends named Amy and Jennifer. Amy and Jennifer were pretty great, and I learned a lot from them. We’ve stayed friends and my friendships with these girls continue to bless me. God has given both of them amazing children to love. Jennifer has three awesome kids and shares openly about how Autism has changed her family life. She speaks about the trials and the successes, the joys and heartaches of parenting children with special needs. God used Jennifer to prime the pump, so to speak.
Last year I was at our church in Niamey and I watched as a friend of mine interacted with her 10 year old son. We’ve known this family since we moved to Niger and the older Osse, her son, has grown the more his special needs have become noticeable. This week I watched as he walked up and down the isles of the church banging a plastic soda bottle on people’s heads. Some of the people he knew and some he didn’t. Then I turned to see the look on his mother’s face. And my heart stopped beating. I knew she had prayed and struggled without anyone to walk beside her. For years. I thought of all the resources available in my country through the school system, healthcare providers, therapists, and the like. I immediately thought of my friend Jennifer as I saw her hopeless expression. And I knew that this friend didn’t live the same life with the same kind of aides. I began to pray for my friend. I asked God to help her, and I felt Him say that together we could help her.
I know very little about helping a boy with symptoms like these. So I set out to find someone who did know. I prayed, and I trusted that the Mountain Maker knew what to do. I felt it down to my bones. He wanted to help this boy. He sent us my friend Reilly. A speech pathologist who had worked with Autistic kids. She’s amazing.
Now, about a year later, Reilly and I visit this family every week. And it is simply. amazing. I can hardly put into words what God has done. He has changed all of our hearts. Instead of feeling hopeless, we are watching in awe as God works miracles in the life of this little boy. Today his momma told me that she thinks there isn’t anything he can’t do. It might take him longer, but if he wants to do it, he can. A year ago he was speaking very little, but we have listened and watched with delight as his therapy sessions with Reilly have build a huge vocabulary. Joyful was the day that he spoke the names of all his family members. They laughed and squealed in delight. Now he is recognizing colors, numbers, shapes, animals, people, emotions. He is learning to express himself.
And I am learning too. In this place where “special needs” kids are literally seen as cursed, I am learning how important it is to stop and take time to love them, see them, talk to them, minister God’s love to them. And to their siblings. And to their parents. Osse’s father told Dave that we were the first people EVER to ask them if we could help in some way. This shocked me. We’ve known them for almost eight years. For all that time we did nothing. How many other families with special needs kids are there in this place needing someone to just reach out and show them the love of Jesus?
What an honor to answer that call. It is all part of His grace. I know the Mountain Maker. He made me, and he is giving me life- abundantly.
Please pray that God would continue to show us those whom we should stop for. As we pass people on the street, as we go about our lives, I pray that we would hear His voice speaking to us about the needs of others. We struggle to share these stories that don’t even feel like our stories to tell. We so want to glory to go to God and not to us. We tell these stories to lift His name high.