From the Field | An Alternative for Banchara Girls

The Banchara are an impoverished tribal group that make up part of India’s lowest-caste system. But they’re known specifically for one thing: child prostitution.

I know. Your knee-jerk reaction after reading that was probably the same as mine. How can this be?

As appalling as it is, this practice is a 500-year-old tradition among the Banchara community. Customarily, the first daughter is groomed from a young age to enter the sex industry, typically when she reaches 12 years old. What started as a tradition, has now developed into a cultural norm; every Banchara girl falls victim to the pressures of joining the sex industry. It’s considered her duty to support the family. Some even build rooms outside of their homes where their daughters can work with clients.

These girls and young women are totally exploited, but abject poverty and social hierarchies lead them to believe there’s no other way to survive.

In their lifetimes, 50 percent of these women will contract HIV, and all of them will suffer physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Tradition excludes them from marrying within the community, which means they will literally have to rely on prostitution to survive . . . a life sentence of trauma.



I spoke with a woman named Uma who was forced into the sex trade by her family when she was 14 years old. As the oldest girl with four brothers, she was seen as their financial security and a way to pay for the dowry for their wives, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000.

On average, Uma makes just $10 a day and will spend the rest of her life earning the money to pay these debts.

After 18 years in the industry, she’s also HIV-positive. She continues to work and risks infecting others, but without a husband or children to care for her, she sees no other choice. She has never had the luxury of dreaming of a better life.

Uma’s story was a dramatic contrast to that of Nilam’s, another young Banchara woman I met. Despite pressure from family and peers, Nilam’s parents vowed she wouldn’t enter the industry—an extremely rare decision among this community.

But the alternative was a difficult one. Nilam’s parents wouldn’t have a steady source of income like the rest of the Banchara families, and there was no guarantee they could pay for her schooling.

Then hope came in the form of sponsorship.

Through World Help’s partner program, the House of Palms, Nilam received an education and found safety from the pressures of the sex trade. In this loving environment, she also came to know Christ.



Today, this bright young woman is in nursing school and wants to return to her community to provide physical, mental, and spiritual healing to victims of the sex trade—many of her own peers.

She told us she feels like she escaped a “living hell” when she sees what her childhood friends are still going through today.

Nilam’s escape from the sex industry is an example for families that rely on their daughters for income. Slowly but surely, they’re awakening to the long-term implications of education over prostitution.

And this kind of investment—this paradigm shift—is absolutely critical to transforming Banchara communities from the inside out.

“Where there used to be only darkness, there is now light. There is hope. Children growing up in the Banchara had no chance at another life, but now their home is here. There’s a light.” – Ramchand, National Indian Partner

I urge you to consider taking action for the sake of these young girls and women.


You may be wondering . . . Where do I even start?

Start by impacting one life at a time with help and hope. Your gift of any amount today will allow us to do exactly that through immediate and preventative care. And by meeting physical needs, you also open doors for World Help to care for spiritual needs.

With every girl rescued, we step closer to the transformation of an entire communityThat’s what help and hope is all about.

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From the Field | Hope Builds in the Tejaji Slum

From the Banchara communities in rural India, the World Help team and I traveled to the Tejaji Nagar slum in Indore. Tejaji is a 25-year-old tattered tent city, and “tent” may be too generous of a description. The community is literally constructed with torn tarps held up by sticks.

These people are considered the lowest in India’s archaic caste system. No one, I mean no one, seems to care whether they live or die.

But we know otherwise. God sees this impoverished community and He has loved them from the beginning. And now, He’s using World Help and its partners to be His tangible hands and feet in Tejaji Nagar.

A few years ago, a World Help supporter named Christine raised the funds to dig a well in Tejaji. This fresh source of water was the first of its kind here, and from it, everything started to change.

Beforehand, the villagers had no choice but to collect water from a contaminated water source, which wasn’t even remotely close to the community. They have suffered in so many ways without access to clean water. I saw a young boy whose leg was permanently maimed from being hit on a busy highway while bringing home water. A man was killed on his way to gather water, leaving behind a wife and five small children.


The lack of clean water writes tragic stories around the world. And Tejaji’s was no different. That’s why we think clean water is the starting point for combatting physical, mental, and spiritual poverty.

First, it transforms physical health. Our partners noticed an almost immediate difference in the village. Hygiene improved and sickness decreased dramatically.

Second, it helps to restore dignity. People from surrounding communities are now coming to Tejaji to collect the pure water. Before, they wouldn’t even come near the village. I saw how proud the Tejaji families were of their well . . . how important they felt that someone would care enough about them to make such an investment.

But most important, this clean water has opened the doors for us to share the love of Christ. The people of Tejaji have come to love and trust our World Help partners, which has built a strong foundation for our work. And because of this, just this past Christmas, we were able to hold a special program in this community—sharing the Gospel for the very first time.


In addition to the clean-water well, we’ve been able to launch a Child Sponsorship Program that funds the education of every child hereNone of Tejaji’s children had ever attended school before this. 

The morning we arrived at the slum, we saw 130 children in school uniforms and carrying the backpacks World Help had provided through our Back-to-School campaign. Their smiles nearly broke my heart! They were so proud to be going to school—a confidence that will be critical as they mature within a crippling social infrastructure.

Now that these fundamental needs are being met, our next community project is to build bathrooms and sewage systems throughout the slum, which will make way for improved hygiene and sanitation.


Little by little, the chains of desperation and poverty are falling from Tejaji. Our partner Ramchand reminded me of Isaiah 58:10:

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness.

“This is our calling; this is our goal, to bring hope and light in the darkness,” Ramchand said. But this can’t happen immediately; it takes time and slowly light comes. Hope builds.”

Hope builds. 

That’s why we can move forward in faith, even when we feel like we’re starting at zero. God takes even our little and invests it in the process of transformation. I certainly saw this process underway in Tejaji. 

I pray these stories remind you that we can join God’s work anywhere, anytime. He can use you to build hope for communities like the Tejaji slum . . . to bring light in the darkness. All you need to do is say “Yes.”

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From the Field | Reaching the Streets of Pattaya

I’m continuing my journey on to Pattaya, Thailand—a beautiful coastal city . . . and home to an estimated 30-50,000 sex workers.

It’s hard to imagine that this relatively small city is one of the sex capitals of the world. In fact, this is where Thailand’s sex tourism industry all began. During the Vietnam War, American soldiers would come to this beautiful fishing town on leave. And soon, Pattaya became known as a place to come for “innocent fun.”

Today, the city is a menagerie. But I was totally unprepared for how enmeshed family-style entertainment was with Pattaya’s blatant sex tourism. I saw families with young children walking casually through the streets as “bar girls” negotiated rates alongside their pimps who were looking on.

I couldn’t help but reel at how normal everyone seemed to be acting. It was like going to a circus or street festival—but this was the farthest thing from innocent entertainment.

Just as unsettling was the amount of trafficking victims we saw. Thai, African, and Russian girls lined the streets at every bar.



Often these women are uneducated and promised a lucrative career in Pattaya. This offer is especially enticing for the young women who work to support their families. The better paying the job, the more money they can send home.

It’s a vicious cycle. These women are paying the ultimate sacrifice by laying aside their dreams and safety in order to provide for their families. Their work in Pattaya puts them at serious risk, and all the while, the shame of their lifestyle destroys their future little by little.

But God is blazing a new way in this darkest of places. Through a strategic partnership, we’re working to curtail the sex trade by transforming one life at a time with help and hope.


World Help is in the process of building a safe home that will care for up to 20 at-risk girls at a time. These young women will receive the best care possible within a family-style environment, an education, counseling, and even opportunities to attend college or earn a vocational degree.

The campus will even include a café where girls can earn wages and learn business skills. But most important, each girl will hear of God’s love daily through a Gospel-centered community.

Because an estimated 50 percent of women in the industry have followed their mother or sister’s footsteps, it’s critical that we present the reality of an alternative lifestyle to women in Pattaya. Sisters and daughters will continue to follow the example set before them. This home could literally impact tens of thousands of lives over the coming generations!



One evening, as the situation in Pattaya seemed to come crashing down on me, our compassionate partner Ann reminded our team of Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

Maybe the sex industry overwhelms you like it does me at times. Maybe you want to throw your hands up in the air and say “It’s hopeless!”

Don’t give up. Every life counts. Every investment matters. I believe God will use our efforts to reap something incredible in Pattaya in His perfect timing—a generation of women free in Christ.

We believe this new project will rescue and restore lives trampled on by the greed and injustice of the international sex trade. But we honestly can’t do this without you. Groundbreaking on this new program in Pattaya is in its beginning stages and funding is desperately needed to bring this to completion.

Please pray about how you can partner with World Help to bring light in the darkest areas of our world. And please keep the victims of the sex industry in your prayers.

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From the Field | Ending Bondage in Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand is the last stop in my journey—and it’s here where the horrors of the international sex industry seem to culminate. There’s an estimated 15,000 sex workers in one area of the city alone, and thousands of individuals from around the world come to visit for one reason.

These visitors call it “sex tourism,” as if it were simply a part of their holiday experience.

I’m broken by what I’ve seen in Bangkok, still unable to fully process my emotions. But here is the raw version—because I can’t tidy these truths up. I just can’t.

I came to Thailand to tell you the truth . . . but also to show you hope.

Our partner is located in Bangkok’s red-light district. It’s a place of refuge in the middle of devastating darkness. Our team works by entering busy bars and building personal relationships with the women entertaining there.

Then they make them an offer: the chance to leave the sex trade once and for all and complete their education for free—whether that means finishing high school, attending a university, or earning a vocational degree. While there, each woman in the program is offered a safe place to stay, three meals a day, counseling, the support of a loving community, and the love and dignity of Christ.

Because most of these women are uneducated and come from impoverished backgrounds, the offer almost seems too good to be true. For these women, education is their escape from prostitution. But it also leaves them with a choice . . . to invest in their education or earn money every night on the streets.



The answer is simple, right?

Actually, it’s far from simple. So many of these women work in Bangkok to help support their families back home. They make 10 times the amount here than they would in their own villages, and to quit would leave their families empty-handed.

The sex industry is a complex web . . . but I saw the redemption that’s possible through compassionate dedication.

I joined our partner one evening in the heart of Bangkok’s red-light district—a regular routine for her as she seeks to build trust with these young women. We sat down at a go-go bar, waiting for the right opportunity to speak to whomever would eventually wait on our table. All around me I saw men—mostly western—bidding on women who were literally numbered.

I felt sick.


There in the bar, surrounded by vulgarity and what seemed like the abandonment of all justice, the gravity of the situation began to suffocate me. It was all I could do to hold back the tears and appear strong. But as soon as I got back in our vehicle, my emotions poured out.

“How do you do this . . . every night?” were the only words I could muster shakily through tears to our partner later that evening. And it was as if her response was the answer I had been waiting for all along.

“If we don’t do it, who will?”

It hit me. This isn’t someone else’s problem. This is our problem.



In God’s perfect timing, at our next stop, I saw our partner’s work in action and began to see the hope.

Our waitress arrived, and in an instant, our partner began her work. We had only moments with her. The urgency was so great. But in those few sacred minutes, she was told about the home and about receiving an education for free. We learned this young lady had only just begun her career as a bar girl, but the desperation was already visible on her face. Her eyes lit up when we spoke of a different way of life, and we left her that night closer to hope than she had ever come since arriving in Bangkok.

Back at the home, I spoke with a young woman named Arinya who had found a new identity through the love and care she found there. She came to Bangkok when she was just 15 years old to help support her poor farming family.

She endured three years of working in the industry at a bar. And just when she thought she couldn’t take anymore, she heard about the Home of New Beginnings.



Today, Arinya has graduated with a business degree and earns a respectable income. While at the home, she also discovered the love of her heavenly Father and couldn’t resist His forgiveness. Now, she feels called to reach out to women who were chained to a life of humiliation just like her.

One by one, this work is transforming lives for eternity. 

Bangkok is where my journey ends, but it’s also where a new chapter begins. I invite you to partner with World Help as we continue to bring light to the dark . . . to set captives free . . . to do justice.

Each rescue takes considerable time and investment—but every penny is worth it. As I think back on the faces of the young women I met on this journey, those words still ring in my ears: If we don’t do it, who will?
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Refugee Crisis: Do Something

The recent Paris attacks have made one thing abundantly clear: we live in a dangerous world. It means that we should cherish and hold our children close and be diligent about their safety and security. But in places like Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, it is far more difficult for parents to keep their children safe . . . that’s if their parents are even alive. In the debate over the refugee crisis, one thing is not up for debate—hundreds of thousands of people have not only been left homeless, but they face constant fear, uncertainty, and risk of death.

Across America today, people are choosing sides. Not just for the next presidential candidate, but we are choosing sides on an issue that lies closer to our hearts, our faith, and our sense of humanity.

Close the borders . . . Take a pause . . . Only let Christians in . . . Stringent vetting process . . . Help the children . . . Keeping them out is un-American . . . Send them all back to their home countries . . . Create safe zones . . .

While we struggle to choose a side, we are simply prolonging the very issues we are fighting for and about. And while we delay, the victims continue to be oppressed and innocent children continue to suffer while we continue a debate that we will never agree on.

The truth is over 95% of the people displaced by the ongoing war in Syria and the fight against ISIS are still living in the region. They are in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. And most of them hope one day to return to their homes to live in peace.

World Help’s work has been on the ground in this region for over 10 years and that is where we will remain. This decision is not one made out of fear, but because it makes the most sense. This is where we have the opportunity to make the greatest impact.

World Help is providing food, clothing, housing, medical attention, a chance for children to return to school, and small business opportunities in Iraq and Jordan. These resources are helping to sustain their lives and give them hope until they can once again return home. No matter where you stand on these issues, this seems to be an opportunity that we could all agree on.

Unfortunately, all the media attention, talk, debate, and fear of letting a small number of refugees into our own country has lead to decreased attention and funding for the overwhelming number of people who are not even trying to get in.

Unless something changes . . . and changes quickly, years from now history will write this as a moment of failure for the American church. We will have to answer to our children and grandchildren why we stood paralyzed out of fear in the face of unspeakable violence and suffering.

Movies will be made and stories will be told about the heroes of our generation—the ones who helped despite great risk.

But my greatest fear is that my name will not be counted among those who made a difference.

The famous Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.”

So, in the wake of controversy and fear, I will not stand idly by while people suffer. I will not be boxed in by the talking heads and labeled by one opinion. Instead, I will simply do something to help.

I believe that is what my faith requires of me—a faith that claims to love my neighbor. I don’t have to choose a side, but I also should not sit on the sidelines out of fear. Instead, I can embrace a posture of compassion and love.

Edmund Burke reminded us, “for evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”

May we not let our fear of choosing sides rob us of all common sense. Our politics may divide us, but our compassion should unite us.

For more information on World Help’s work with refugees and displaced people in the Middle East and how you can help make a difference, click here.



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Shamu, Extreme Poverty, and You

Today, I am sharing over on the Leading and Loving  It blog. I am talking about poverty and how you can act by being the hope to those in need. I would love if you would head over to their site and check out the post!  You can view it here.

Will you be the hope? What step will you take TODAY to be hope to someone in extreme poverty?

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Putting My Hands to What’s in His Heart

It is my absolute delight to introduce you to my sweet friend, and guest blogger, Susan Morris (www.susanbeth.com). Susan and her husband pastor Amplify Church in Jacksonville, FL and Susan is an active member of the Leading and Loving It community where she and I received our introduction. Susan is one of the sweetest most passionate women I know living her life trying to put her hands to the things in God’s heart… but I’ll let her share her own story!

A year ago I was immersed in wedding details for one of my daughters and had never even heard of World Help. I had however been part of Leading & Loving It, a community of women involved in ministry and have led one of their Connect LIVE groups the past several years. I had been looking forward to attending their retreat again last Fall, but due to putting some things aside in preparing for the wedding I felt like it wasn’t something I could do at that time.

Because of that decision I missed hearing Noel share about World Help and an upcoming L&LI trip to Guatemala. It wasn’t until after the first of the year that I saw something about the Operation Baby Rescue Project. I knew immediately I needed to go. I also knew that I didn’t have the money budgeted to go on a trip that was now quickly approaching.

It’s funny now looking back out at how everything played out…

I created several items for my daughters wedding and a few people had inquired about ordering pieces from me. That idea did not appeal to me at all, until the moment I read about this trip. I decided to create and sell custom art pieces to raise the money needed for the trip (out of my comfort zone!)

I was able to raise the funds to go on the trip. One of the highlights for me personally was getting to know Noel Yeatts. In a world that often glamorizes strength and beauty in a self indulgent way, I saw in her, womanhood at it’s finest. I saw a devoted, loving wife and mother who was passionate about what God had put in her heart. A woman who was willing to get out of her comfort zone, rally the troops and lead the charge to get a job done!

Noel spoke into our lives throughout the trip and she continued to speak into mine afterward from her book, AWAKE – Doing a WORLD of Good One Person at a Time (which you need to get if you havent already!)

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Do you want to be safe, or do you really want to change the world? The conflict is that we want to be brave, we want to take risks… but we also want to be safe. The problem is we cant have it both ways.”

Even though many people I know would consider me a risk taker and brave…I knew deep in my heart I was still playing it safe.

I remember sharing with Noel the very first night of the trip that I had asked others to pray I would not be overwhelmed with the need before me, making it unable to see anything else. It is easy to become paralyzed by the enormity of it all.

That prayer was answered… I saw so clearly in my time in Guatemala that it takes each of us being obedient to what God is asking us to do. Only then can the miraculous happen. I made a decision to be obedient no matter how insignificant or how huge that looked.

The day after I got home from the trip, I made my commitment to raise money to rescue five babies, representing each of my five children. The total amount raised would be $6000, which seemed insignificant and HUGE all at the same time.

Another one of my favorite quotes from AWAKE is “Doing a world of good is oftentimes just doing what you already know how to do…”

So that’s what I’ve done…at AMPLIFY where my husband and I pastor we have Amplify LOVE Projects, so Operation Baby Rescue has become one of our projects. We made #amplifyLOVE shirts and coffee mugs with proceeds going to rescue babies.

Our family also owns Reach Destiny Arts, a Dance Studio lead by my daughters that has nearly 200 students associated with it. We have created a fun way to donate to OPERATION BABY RESCUE by buying a Pointe Shoe and the students writing their name and amount on it to hang up on the walls of our studio.

At this stage, we have rescued two babies and this just by doing what I’ve already been doing. Nothing spectacular or special! People you know want to make a difference…theyre just waiting for you to show them how.

I specifically took a picture of my feet on the ground in Guatemala because I knew once my feet were on the familiar soil of home it would be easy to forget. The following is a blog I wrote a week after being home about that picture…

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A week ago I was standing on the soil in Guatemala.

I had the opportunity to share about my week with my church family on Sunday. I wore these boots and I told them why…

Ive been on several trips to other countries where you see such heartbreaking need all around you. I know that my life and perspective has been shaped through the years by these experiences. I wore these boots on Sunday as a reminder that as much as I was moved to make a difference in those moments standing there in Guatemala, life back in my “normal” can soften the urgency over time.

I snapped pictures while I was there and as I was scrolling through them just hours later they seemed unreal. I wonder if its because its hard to process the reality of what I was seeing?

I don’t know.

But I do know, I want to remember…

I want to remember the mom that walked with her children 3 hours one way so they would have food for the day.

I want to remember the filthy dirty plastic 2-liter bottle that her child held up to me to fill that Im pretty sure he had just picked up in the dump that was a few feet away.

I want to remember the precious babies being held by brave moms choosing to leave all they have known to do what’s best for their sick children.

I want to remember the scared little girl that was probably going to lose her infected left eye due to not receiving treatment early enough.

I want to remember the joy and gratefulness on the faces of the people in the village where we dedicated a well so they could have clean water.

I want to remember the little boy in the plaid shirt that came and sat by me and melted my heart.

I want to remember that my feet stood on this soil and in that moment I knew I could make a difference.

You can too.

To help Susan raise money for Baby Rescue, visit http://lali.worldhelp.net/susan-morris

World Help and Leading and Loving It

On the Ground with Leading and Loving It

“As a church we are good at teaching people how to get to heaven, but we are failing at teaching them how to live on earth.” — Carlos Vargas

I’m here in Guatemala with a group of 30 women from Leading and Loving It—pastors’ wives and women in ministry. Our focus this week has been on our Rescue Program and meeting Leading and Loving It’s goal of rescuing 200 babies. We’ve loved on babies in the hospital, visited the special needs home, and heard a number of rescue stories from Hope of Life’s founder Carlos Vargas.




Yesterday the entire group of ladies had the opportunity to visit a trash dump community here in Guatemala where lunch is served three days a week. I loved watching our group serve “the least of these” so selflessly. It was a reminder of the extreme poverty so many of these people are living in and why this rescue program is so important. Please take a moment to watch this short video and consider joining the rescue at www.lali.worldhelp.net.

Watch Guatemala | #LALIRescue15 from World Help on Vimeo.

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Alternate Endings

I read recently that in the 6th Episode of the Star Wars saga, Return of the Jedi, Harrison Ford’s character, Hans Solo, was actually supposed to die. The original script included his death during a raid on an Imperial base. But, reportedly George Lucas was worried what killing off one of the main characters would do to sales, merchandising, and the massive franchise Star Wars had become.

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So, instead what did we see? An alternate ending – one that the audience could be much more comfortable with. One that left us feeling good and hopeful – one that kept us coming back for more. We saw the Ewoks and a “teddy bear luau” [1].

Alternate endings are prevalent in the film and television industry. Some endings are simply left on the cutting room floor only to go down in movie trivia history. While other deleted scenes are included in the actual release of the film letting the audience choose the ending they like best.

Usually I don’t want a choice. I like to know how a story ends and there should only be one ending. But every once and a while, a movie takes me on a journey that leads me to believe an expected ending is coming. But when it doesn’t end the way I anticipated, I am left feeling unsatisfied and confused. The movie leaves me in a place that does not feel quite right. It’s not where I thought the story was going- not the ending I would have chosen.

My mind wanders with “what if’s” and I begin to create my own alternate ending in my head. I come up with a conclusion that I like much better and that leaves things neatly wrapped up and resolved.

In the past few weeks I have found myself desperately longing for an alternate ending to real life – not a movie – but my real life story. It’s a story I have been telling nearly as long as I can remember. I guess you could say, in some ways, it’s the story of my life.

You see more than 25 years ago I met a special little boy on the streets of Brazil. His name was Nildo. He was a street child. His father had abandoned him and his mother could not afford to care for him. He slept on a bench and had no clothes or shoes. He was dirty and hungry.

Meeting this young boy changed my life. It taught me an important lesson – I may not be able to save all the hurting children in the world, but I could make a difference for one. And years later, I have never forgotten.

He grew into a fine young man, helping other children and even starting a family of his own. He was able to come to the states for a visit where we were able to see each other again and reconnect. His story has literally touched and inspired thousands around the world. And to say his life changed mine would be an understatement.

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(I write about Nildo in my book, Awake and you can watch a short video about his story here.)

A few weeks ago I received some tragic news. It was unexpected and a total surprise. The story of my life, Nildo, was gone. My inspiration, my motivation, and my success story to prove the work that I do is important – it had disappeared in what seemed like an instant.

In our connected world today there is no time for grief – no time to process things privately. We are expected to instantly post, comment, “like” and have 140 characters to wrap it all up in.

But I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. I needed time. I needed to ask God all the questions a good Christian girl is not supposed to ask. I needed to ask “why?”

I was stuck in the first two stages of grief … denial and anger. And the anger was winning.

I couldn’t talk about it. Instead I fumed inside. The lyrics to a Dixie Chicks song played over and over again in my head – “I’m not ready to make nice – I’m not ready to back down. I’m still mad as … ” Well, you get the point.

Yes, I was mad. Because, this wasn’t part of my story. This was not the story I had created. This was not the story I had been telling people all these years. This was not the story I had just filmed for a special online conference that aired just days after Nildo’s death.

No, this was not my story. My story had a happy ending, one I could explain and tie to a practical inspirational truth. My story made sense.

This story – this reality I was being forced to consider – felt like some alternate ending to a movie I didn’t even want to see.

My story gave people the ending they craved. It kept them coming back for more. It gave them hope. And, it neatly wrapped up an important truth. If we reach out and do our part, lives can be changed. Nildo was that shining example of a life transformed. He was inspiration to look past the masses and zero in on the one child, the one person God has put in your path. He helped us “see the one”.

That is what I thought his story was all about. That is what I thought my story was all about. And that is how I thought God wanted to use his story.

So, the tragic news stopped me in my tracks.

These past weeks I have been mourning the loss of his life. That little boy I met so many years ago that grew to be such a loving and caring young man. I have been mourning the loss of a father and husband who leaves behind a wife and three small children, one born just days after his death. That little girl will never know her father and what an incredible man he was. I have been morning the loss of a friend – a son.

But I have also been mourning the loss of the story – my story.

I am realizing now more than ever before that Nildo’s story was never my story to begin with. I was just a small part of his story. A big beautiful story but one that I cannot write all the chapters in. There is no alternate ending to choose from, just one tragic end to a life beautifully lived.

And here’s the question I have started asking myself: How much are we willing to risk to let God write our stories? Am I really brave enough to let God write my story … my whole story – with no alternate endings to choose from?

You see, we get into trouble when we start to think we can save the world. Yes, we can make a difference, but we cannot save. And, we cannot write all the chapters in the story.

We are all just supporting roles – up for Best Supporting Actor, or Actress. But make no mistake, there is only one writer and only one person up for the Oscar for Best screenplay. This is God’s story and he is writing it His way – one changed life at a time.

If I am honest, I am still angry. But, my anger is a righteous one. As Bill Hybels calls it – it is a “Holy Discontent”. One that longs for a world where children are never abandoned and forgotten. One that longs for a world where children don’t have to live with those scars and fight those fears the rest of their lives. For a world that allows full healing and recovery on this side of heaven. A world where love does win … I long for a new world.

And maybe this is what living out an authentic faith truly means … Maybe this is what we are supposed to do, supposed to think about. Maybe that longing is what drives us, pushes us, and inspires us to keep going against all odds.

That desire to restore hope and bring God’s kingdom to life here on earth … not in the future, but now in our time. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In the end, that is what hope is all about, and what our lives should be all about.

Hope restored to a hurting world.

The one thing I know is this:

Nildo lived.

He lived and because he lived – I lived. I have lived a life that would have been very different without meeting him.

Because he lived his story touched thousands – hundreds of thousands – inspiring them to get involved.

He lived and became a son, brother and true friend loved by many.

My one comfort is that this child who bore the scars of abandonment, fear, loneliness, and pain now rests in the arms of a loving God – truly rescued once and for all.

Right now Nildo’s death feels like the end to a spectacular story. But I have to believe God is not finished yet. And personally I am not ready for this movie to be over. I don’t want to see the words “the end” appear on the big screen.

There might not be any alternate endings to choose from, but I do believe this is just one chapter in a never-ending story … a story that God is writing everyday.

So, goodbye sweet Nildo. How could I ever forget you? Because of you, I am forever Awake to the needs of the world. You changed my life and I truly am the lucky one.

To give a gift in Nildo’s memory to help support his family click here.

[1] http://www.avclub.com/article/gary-kurtz-outlines-original-darker-ewok-less-endi-44162

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Going Beyond the Rescue

When I began traveling to Guatemala, one of the first things I noticed was the alarmingly high rate of birth defects. Malnutrition, sickness, and poor prenatal care take a permanent toll on both the mothers and children in this impoverished nation.

Disorders like cleft palates, deformities, and other handicaps are tragic for any parent . . . but I’ve learned that in Guatemala, they can mean a death sentence.

In fact, Guatemala has one of the highest national percentages of spinal and brain birth defects in the world. Like most developing countries, Guatemala has very few specialized healthcare facilities, let alone pediatric care for children with disabilities. The majority of these families are too poor and isolated to seek the help they need. As a result, many children are left untreated and some will die. Thousands of these children are in immediate need of critical care.

Our partner Carlos Vargas is close to celebrating the completion of a new special-needs home that World Help was able to provide near the Baby Rescue Center. I’ll be traveling to Guatemala this month to dedicate this new branch of Operation Baby Rescue, and I couldn’t be more excited. For hundreds of families in the surrounding regions, this new home means that their children will finally receive the care they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Please watch the third portion of a three-part interview as Carlos explains what this new home means for the families caring for these special-needs children: exclusive treatments, therapies, medicines, and each child will receive adequate nurturing on an individual level. The home will also serve as a rehabilitation center where children can come on an as-needed basis.

As the home nears its final stages of construction, I ask you to join me in praying that it will restore hope to countless families in Guatemala. You can also support the home by giving a one-time donation or pledging any amount toward the start-up and sustainability of the program. No matter how you pray or give, your action invests in those who need it the most.


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