Sunday, September 26, 2010

The eyes of Alpha

Let me tell you a story of redemption.

One year ago, my husband and I attended The Global Orphan Project's "Big Event" where hundreds of people gather together to plead the cause of the poor and the needy, and put our heads and hearts together for the fatherless. The stories we heard there were jaw-dropping. We were astounded by the raw numbers of orphans and to learn of the orphan pandemic of today. We stood in disbelief of so many stories of survival and also stories of the heroes who are working in the lives of these children.

One of the stories was about a little baby named Alpha. One and a half years ago, a man named Peter found a garbage bag on the side of the road that was moving. When he inspected its contents, he found a brand new baby inside with a rope around her neck. Someone has discarded this little life on the side of the road. When others heard of what Peter had found, they asked what he would do if this baby was HIV positive. He said he was just going to love her. When the tests came back, she was HIV positive. That was probably the reason she had been thrown on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Peter named her Alpha and she became a member of his family. At the Big Event last year, we heard her story and the crowd of hundreds prayed for Alpha and her health and her future, with candles lighting up the room. Her story burned a hole in my heart.

Last night at the 2010 Big Event, Jason and I had a seat near the back of the room with dear friends of our's who share the same passion for these children. We listened to Moise Vaval speak about finding and burying his son in Haiti after the earthquake this January and about the beautiful work Global Orphan Project is doing there in Haiti week-after-week. All the while, there was a baby screaming in the audience, being carried back and forth into and out of the auditorium. It was a very dimly lit auditorium, lit mainly by candles on the tables near the stage. I kept thinking "Goodness, that baby is MAD! I wonder why someone brought a baby to this event." The crying did not cease. Eventually, I told Jason that I had to go see how I could help.

I followed the mom out the door and practically chased her all the way to the bathroom. When we arrived, I asked if there was anything at all I could do to help. I offered to hold or walk the baby so that the mother could be a part of the presentation that was happening in the auditorium. She was thankful, but was hesitant to leave me with her baby. I stayed in the bathroom long enough to find out that the family was here from Malawi, Africa. Admiring the beautiful brown skin of this baby and her sweet dimples on her face, I asked what her name was. The mother said "Her name is Alpha."

I am not kidding you that TIME STOOD STILL.

A number of incontrollable tears fells down my face. My mind was grasping for all the details that could bring together the correct conclusion of whether or not this is THE Alpha who I prayed for a year ago. THE Alpha who burned a hole in mine and so many others' hearts a year ago.

I ran out of the bathroom and found a friend of mine who could confirm whether or not this baby was THE Alpha and she did, in fact, confirm that it was the baby who so many of us prayed for last year.

I ran back into the bathroom and just looked into the face of this little girl who has no idea how she has saved so many lives with her story. I stayed and spoke with the mother as long as I could without seeming like a stalker. When I returned to my seat next to Jason and shared with him who that crying baby was, he was in shock.

I was able to go hold and play with little Alpha later in the evening. We walked around and talked (as best as you can with an 18 month old) and I kissed her precious cheek. To look into those eyes and know her story of survival is a feeling that is hard to put into words.

It puts us so close to the heart of God when we consider the lives of the "least of these." When we put a hold on our lives and stop long enough to love a child who has done nothing for us, we are experiencing the heart of Christ.

I love the passage in Matthew when Jesus speaks of the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Read Matthew 18:1-5 for yourself, but listen to verse 5 especially:

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

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