Dear Friends, Have you ever been overwhelmed by memories of bad experiences? Recently, a young man came to me seeking help for moving on from the horrors of his childhood. He is like many of us who have been traumatized in our youth. But do the things that happen to us define who we are? Is there no providence to be found when our lives are examined from God’s perspective? Or is God still present, even if we have to wait and see what He develops?
Below is the story I told this young man. I hope it helps you to consider your own past, and place emphasis on the opportunity rather than the offense. See you on the next page!—David Telbat
One Arm for Two
by D.I. Telbat
Peggy Jackson gazed with concern at their one-armed little boy who lay in his new bed. She and her husband already had four special needs children, and one-armed Alvin was going to be one of their most troubling cases, she imagined. The poor boy’s stub was still bandaged from where it had been amputated two months earlier.
“We’ll need to pray a lot for this one,” Peggy said.
“We will.” Her husband took her hand in his. “We’ll keep praying a lot for all of them.”
“But he’s already nine. The others were younger. They didn’t remember how they were treated, or even who their parents were before the children came to us. Alvin will remember—he’ll remember the beating that broke his little body so badly that they had to amputate.”
“Like you said, hon. Let’s pray, and wait and see what God makes of it.”
Peggy did pray for Alvin, as well as for the others under their roof. Little Sue was missing a leg. Jeremy, now thirteen, was blind. Eight-year-old Ryan had been born with no arms, and Bridget had spina bifida, which confined her to a wheelchair. Three-year-old Josie had Down’s syndrome, and required constant attention.
With so much that burdened her already, Peggy feared what it would take for Alvin to adjust physically to his missing limb, as well as emotionally to the memory of his abuse.
The days that followed were indeed filled with grief. Alvin cried often and would hide under the covers of his bed. He struggled with the most mundane things that other nine-year-olds would have completed quickly. Getting dressed was a challenge, and he was embarrassed that he needed the help of his foster mother or father. Tying his shoes with one hand was too difficult, so Peggy bought him Velcro shoes.
Every obstacle that Alvin faced left him looking at the stump that was now his left arm. Then, he would mumble something about his father, and run and hide in his room.
But one morning weeks later, everything changed. Ryan, the boy with no arms, was struggling to pour milk onto his cereal. Peggy was in the kitchen, and she started to come to the boy’s rescue when she saw Alvin take notice of Ryan’s dilemma. Ryan was remarkably adept at most chores, using his feet and toes, but the gallon container of milk was liable to be a messy affair unless someone did something fast.
Sue was too young to lift the milk at all, and Jeremy was blind, so he couldn’t see Ryan’s need. Bridget was already consuming her cereal absentmindedly, and Josie was in the playpen in the living room.
Peggy watched Alvin’s face as he looked closer at Ryan—truly noticing for the first time that the boy had no arms. Alvin frowned at his own missing arm, then his mouth opened in awe as his gaze shifted to the arm he did have.
“Stop!” Alvin called out, stopping Ryan before he spilled the whole gallon. Everyone in the room looked up, but Alvin was mesmerized by the appendage attached to his right shoulder. “Look! I have an arm. I can pour it!”
“Then, pour it already,” Ryan urged. “I’m starving!”
After that, Peggy stopped worrying about Alvin. He’d lost his arm in a tragic way, but he’d found his other arm in a new way.
Through the years that followed, Alvin and Ryan remained foster brothers under the same roof. Many times, Peggy witnessed Alvin lending his hand to Ryan as if they shared the arm between them both. He’d learned to use his one arm for two. And every time, she remembered her prayer that God would rescue Alvin from his past. He had indeed rescued Alvin by opening his eyes to what he had, not only to what he didn’t have. Only God could create such a blessing from ashes!
Prayer Prompt-1: Please be praying for American Pastor Andrew Brunson, held in prison in Turkey for his faith. His trial is scheduled for April 16. You can read about his case here.
This month we are excited to share with you a wonderful report on the Naga Hills Outreach in Myanmar. With your generous help and prayerful support we were able to send out a team of thirteen, including 11 teenagers ranging in ages from 13-15 and 2 adults, who live in one of the children’s homes we help support in the Yangon area. The team traveled safely over 3,000 miles by bus, jeep, motorbikes, and three days by boat. They went to 15 different Naga villages ministering in 12 different churches from March 8-26, 2018.
The team traveled in areas where there is often fighting between the Burmese government army and the local ethnic group’s army. This was the first time in over six years these children were able to travel back to their villages, see family and relatives, and minister to their people. Our contact writes, “After four years, the Lord accomplished our dream. Today, it became a reality.”
Every place the team traveled, they led praise and worship, which is quite rare in many of these churches. In addition, two children shared their testimonies, they led group and action songs, and Reverend Timothy preached the Gospel. Many villagers gave their lives to Christ on this outreach and the children came back with a new vision to help those living in Naga villages.
COMING UP: Join us next time for more insight into Distant Harm in, “Training to Live well for God Now.” And in our following post, Dee will have, “Coming Next in D.I. Telbat Novels–April 2018 Update“!