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A Father to the Fatherless

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By Danita Beachy

Danita led the 2015-16 REACH Team to South Africa. Here she shares about an experience she had during her time there.

It was a Friday night in mid-February. My team and I were about halfway through our time in Johannesburg, South Africa, serving at a home for abandoned babies. In a pinch, I was asked to cover night shift at the hospital. One of our babies, sweet 11-month-old Sybil,* had a major surgery on her skull (i.e. cranial release and reconstruction) the previous Tuesday. She had just gotten out of ICU and was stable, but they didn't want her to be alone. I felt way out of my comfort zone, surrounded by medical terminology and burdened with the fragility of this precious baby’s life.

It was a long night, yet I clearly remember the peace I felt. What I experienced in that hospital has forever changed me. I've never felt more like a mom than I did that night, sitting by Sybil's bed, comforting her and praying fiercely for her little life. I'm thankful for surgeons, technology, and medical care, whatever sort it is. The Johannesburg hospital was one of the nicer ones, but it's definitely not up to Western standards. There were three other children in beds in the same dingy gray room, I counted more than a couple of cockroaches in the hallways, and I spent the night on a hard chair next to the hospital bed. I dozed there until around 3 a.m. and a nice nurse brought me hot tea from the employee room (probably because she felt sorry for me).

“But even more beautiful to me is that I love because Christ first loved me and showed me the full extent of His love.”I got the privilege of unhindered time to sit with, pray over, sing to, and love Sybil. I was so close to tears every time I gazed at her. She doesn't yet have a mom and a dad to stay up with her and be worried sick, so I got to be mommy to her. I was calling on God as her good, good Father; the One who knows every hair on her head (even the ones that were shaved for surgery); the One who does not leave us as orphans – to be Sybil's healer. I remember asking God to let me bear any pain or discomfort on her behalf. I’m not a mother yet, but that night I experienced God’s parental love through me. I love that sweet girl more than I can describe or understand. But even more beautiful to me is that I love because Christ first loved me and showed me the full extent of His love.

The LORD, Sybil’s good Father, is the One who heals. I'm happy to say she was released from the hospital just one week after the surgery, and when we said goodbye in May, she was doing well! My heart rejoices that she has a hope and a future, yet still grieves because I don’t get to watch her grow up. Please pray with me for an adoptive family for Sybil. Forever etched into my memory is the night that I got to experience the love of the Father for a little orphan girl in a hospital bed on the other side of the world.

“Father of the fatherless… is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home…” (Psalm 68:5-6)

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

*Name changed for security