Fighting for the “Underdog”
My wife will be the first to tell you, I am all about the underdog. I don’t root for the New York Yankees with their billion dollar budget; I don’t pull for the Alabama Crimson Tide who have to turn away some of the best players in the country because they are already the best team on the gridiron; I don’t embrace the Labron James’ or even the Michael Jordan’s of my day – I am all about the underdog. I am all about those who are less fortunate; I am all about those who struggle in life or those who need encouragement; those who are hurting and those who long for some hope. Perhaps that’s why iv’e stuck around so long in an economy which has just about decimated our community, where we’ve seen more than thirty-families leave our church since 2008 and move to other States looking for a job, a better job or simply some stability; where we’ve traveled to other parts of the world, four times in seven years, to give hope to kids who have very little hope. Where so many people are about the next best thing, I and we are all about the “underdog.”
In traveling to Zambia, Africa this past summer, one statement which has stuck with me was when Mitzi, the director of LifeSong School in Kitwe described to us what life was like for those kids outside of their fenced community. Simply, there wasn’t much hope at all. In a world which seems to be hammering your hope and stealing your joy – people…kids need someone who is willing to come alongside of them to infuse in them encouragement – lasting encouragement which only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is what we did this summer when we had the opportunity to travel with a team of fifteen from Okemos, Michigan to Zambia, Africa to partner with Child Evangelism Fellowship and LifeSong for Orphans. What a wonderful opportunity to not only come alongside of these two wonderful organizations, but some phenomenal people – where together we could share the love of Christ. If you haven’t had the opportunity to view the video of our experience, I welcome you to view it here – http://vimeo.com/76865275 and see how we were privileged to be used by God.
It goes without saying, Caleigh is one of those who my heart continually bleeds for. She is an amazing life who wakes up with a smile on her face and retires for the evening with a grin from ear to ear. She is second to none in my book. When God created her, He no doubt created her with so many unique qualities. Caleigh is a true and precious gift from God. But, she is one who continually struggles physically. I am well aware of the sin problem and the result of sin in this world which is marked by disease and sickness. I see this in our daughter each day. I also am a witness to the immeasurable grace of God in her life and our life alike. Last week we made yet another trip to Mott Children’s Hospital on the campus of the University of Michigan. Their compassionate care is unprecedented –from the moment we walk through their doors until we get into our car to drive home. We are never left alone and are escorted wherever we need to go. Even in the down time while waiting for tests to be performed, they have staff specifically appointed in the kid’s area who work on puzzles, play or do crafts with the children. It’s quiet and calm, and gives the kids an environment which is inviting. The afternoon was filled with tests and evaluations. We went from one floor to the next, from one room to another. While her numbers continue to remain steady, to which we are very thankful, we have taken her care to the next level. Because Caleigh’s disease is advanced for her age, she will start regular ultrasounds, every six months , looking for carcinoma or cancer cells, as well as assessing her overall health. In a follow-up conference call this week, we were made well aware of the ongoing seriousness of her situation. Unless if her disease goes into “remission” as we call it, she remains at very high risk. The survival rate for those kids who contract this type of cancer is less than 10% – so we know what we are up against. Simply, we don’t want to go there. What I do know is, we have a wonderful medical team who is working on our behalf. But even greater than this is we have a great God who is sovereign in all of His ways and can heal with a simple, spoken word. I have seen it in the life of others and this is what we pray for concerning our little girl. As I often articulate, I will go to the ends of the earth and pull out all stops for our kids. As was our theme in traveling to Africa this summer: we will continue to LIVE BY FAITH, BE KNOWN BY LOVE, BE A PEOPLE OF HOPE. Soli Deo Gloria!