Tag Archives: victims

The Unjust Accusation

I recently found myself doing, as so many in the world do, accusing God of the injustices this world has. Being one who normally goes to bat for Christ, I now sat on the side of the age old question…”If God is a God of love, why does He allow….?” I’ve heard this question far too often and have attempted to, on many occasions, answer it with some sort of theological answer. I was so bothered by what I saw this summer, I too accused Christ of injustice.

I took a small group of kids on a missions trip to Mexico in July. This was not a new thing, as I have led such trips yearly, and most recently in October of 2012. Some of my kids were so moved while on that trip, that they wanted to go back this summer. It was their passionate, steadfast desire that led us to move forward with the July trip. There were moments we thought about cancelling the trip, like when we saw the price of airline tickets to fly from Hawaii to the mainland and we questioned our ability to raise the money. But the kids persisted, feeling more assured each day that we were to go. It is a great thing to see the faith of the youth, who are not worried, nor question God’s ability to provide. And provide He did!

As Americans, anytime we go into Mexico, we are broken by the poverty that lies beyond the fence dividing the two countries. It is a great thing for young people to see just how good they have it living in the U.S. We were eager to see how God would use us on this trip. Within a day it was clear it would be a powerful trip! We went to visit an orphanage that we have been helping over the past few years. They were not expecting us; therefore we were able to see the needs they had in the rawest form. So often, as Americans, we come to meet the needs of others in the most gluttonous ways. What I mean by that is, we bring toys, clothes and candy with excited smiles to bless the little ones. That’s good to want to bless those in need, except when you see that the young ones most basic needs aren’t even being met. It changes your perspective!

We hurried out of our vans. I was holding a large box of granola bars that I couldn’t wait to give to the little kids. They all ran at me as if they had not eaten in days. Two and three year olds were begging me for food. I could not pass them out quick enough. As I looked down at these little beaming eyes, I couldn’t help but notice the filth they were covered in. Dripping noses and raw sores on the faces, diapers that had not been change for days and clothes that reeked of human waist. Little ones pulling on every side of me begging me for more. Many were extremely sick and clung to members of our team. We couldn’t carry enough of them! Within minutes they would fall asleep in our arms; maybe the only place they felt safe. The older kids were sneaking bars in their pockets, trying ever so hard to steal a bag of bars to go hide for later…truly so heartbreaking.

After leaving that day I was so sad, broken and disappointed. No young child should ever be faced to live in those conditions. We went and bought a ton of diapers and food to bring back with us. When we revisited the orphanage, the kids were so grateful to see us and once again they clung to us. When given an opportunity to love these little ones, you forget about any stench that accompanies them. You embrace them and flood their little faces with kisses. I held a very sick little boy (maybe a year and a half old) in my arms. Covered in dirt and so sad. I took baby wipe after baby wipe to clean his little face and hands. I then got a cup of water to try and hydrate him. The moments following still make me weep like a baby. Within seconds I was surrounded by toddlers begging me for “aqua” (water). They would take the cup of water and gulp it down as if it was the only drink they had in days. They were fighting each other for sips, I couldn’t keep the cup full. I also couldn’t hold back the tears that quickly turned into anger.

How can a God of love allow this to happen? How can these little kids be left to live like this? This is unjust and wrong! There are so many injustices in the world, so many heartbreaking sights and so much pain. If God is all loving, why does he allow this to be the case?

A week later I was visiting my uncle who in the past year was diagnosed with cancer. He is a man of faith, but I wouldn’t say that he passionately pursued the cross. A while back my aunt and I were talking on the phone and she shared how there was a bit of a somber feel in the house. “Unk” was feeling down and she asked me to pray for him. I encouraged her to play worship music in the house. I began praying for God to bring him a unexplainable peace in this time.

When I saw my uncle, I was blown away by his new found passion and love for God. He was on fire. I could see a difference in him. He was sharing a story with me about sharing his faith with a random guy in Nordstrom. One day after one of his treatments, my aunt needed to grab a couple things. My uncle went along and sat on a sofa in the store while my aunt did her shopping. There was a man a bit older than him, sitting in a chair next to him. As they began to talk, my uncle brought up Christ. This old man said, “I use to have faith and believe in God, but not anymore.” My uncle asked, “why not?” The man said, “Well, because I don’t see how a God of love could allow innocent people in Africa to die!” My uncle went on to say, “Sir, I don’t understand why bad things happen; however, I know God is faithful and loving and his heart breaks for the evil in the world too.” My uncle then said, “Sarah, what would you have said?”

That question was still being a very raw topic in my heart, I looked at my uncle and said “you responded perfectly.” I began to share with him about accusing God for all the evil I was seeing in Mexico, as these children begged me for basic needs. You see the hurts of this world should anger us enough to do something about it. I must say though, that as I questioned God that day, I felt Him speak very loudly to me. “Sarah, I have you here to quench their thirst, so give them water until they thirst no more. Instead of seeing the injustice, see My heart and be My hands and feet to them today.”

As believers, we are to be the shadow of Christ. We are to be a reflection of Him to the world around us. The most unfortunate thing is much of the church is not being obedient to respond to the calling of those in need. We sit ever so comfortably seeing the needs and hurting people, but often don’t do anything about it. A Christian is supposed to be Christ like. He met the needs of those while He walked this earth and left us with the Great Commission.

To go a step further, believers and unbelievers alike sit on our high thrones blurting out accusations about God when we ourselves do nothing about the world’s situation. We act as if we have a better way or act so high and mighty that we say it’s God’s fault. It is not Gods fault, we are not all-knowing and all-seeing. We have no clue how many people God sends out to meet the needs of others. We can not see how many (like we almost did), that sense the call but don’t go. Instead of responding to the tug on our hearts to go, we have a list of oppositions or requirements vs responding to the needs of others. This summer, had we, as leaders, not heard the call placed on our high schools students hearts, or had we not believed, with their faith, that God would make a way; had we not lived as sacrificially as they did, to give of our summer, we would have missed the opportunity to quench the thirst of nearly 100 kids that day.

Had my uncle not ever faced cancer, he might not have ever known the joy of passionately pursuing the cross. Without that passion he might not have been in Nordstrom that day, nor had the ability to restore the faith of one who once believed. God knows what He is doing. Don’t think for one second that His heart does not break for those who have need, and even more so for all those who have been called in some way, shape or form, but never go. It is not an issue of God failing, but us failing to follow the call.

I have recently been so burdened to share this huge lesson that I have learned from this experience. My encouragement to you, dear reader, is to go out and make a difference today in one life. It doesn’t take big bucks, big faith or a big name. It takes a willingness of one to quench the thirst of those put daily in our paths.

Isaiah 40:28
The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. HIS UNDERSTANDING IS UNSEARCHABLE . He gives POWER to the WEAK, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

2Cor.3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

1 John 3:17
But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him ? photo 3

photo 2

Love changes everything!

Love changes everything!

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Hope in Hopelessness

1Cor.13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Love, such a powerful word, action and desire. It alone can transcend all wrongs this world could ever know. Universally we all long for love, every human who has breath, needs love to survive. If you have ever traveled to a third world country and spent time in orphanages, you would see the prevalent need children have for love. Since they lack so much of it, they can’t be hugged or held enough!Love,in and of itself, can change even the bleakest of hours. Mentioned three hundred and ten times in the Bible, it is the most powerful message Christ not only displayed at the cross, but commanded us to imitate when He called us to follow Him.

Never did Christ force Himself upon us. Instead, He patiently stands at the door of our hearts knocking, waiting, yearning for us to respond. To allow Him to come in and transform our once hopeless, empty hearts and lives. Hopeless because of a world shattered by sin, hate and hurt. A world deceived by the deceiver himself, stripped of peace and purity. Hundreds of years ago voices rang in unison saying, “We don’t need a Savior, we don’t need Him, we don’t want Him, we make our own choices, we have a better way.” Even today, we mimic those same voices, desiring to silence the voice of Christ. The result is a world gripped with hopelessness.

As believers, we hold fast to the faith of our Lord Jesus. We should see in the midst of hurt and pain that we are never without hope. We can stand firm on the truths of Christ and when given an opportunity to display Him to the world, we should do so. No greater joy or purpose have I found in my own life then when traveling and sharing the hope I have within with others. In doing that, I find the greatest fire, purpose and joy. When sharing tears with the hurting and reminding them their life is not a mistake; and in the midst of a trying time their life is not over.

A couple of weeks ago the US came to the gripping reality that we are not immune to terrorist attacks on our homeland. I watched in horror the tragic events at the Boston Marathon unfolding on my television. My heart immediately broke for the victims and their families. As a believer, all I could think is we have to do something. We have to reach out somehow. I’m on the Board of Friends of Bethany, a non-profit foundation founded by Bethany Hamilton, to reach out to victims of shark attacks, as well as other traumatic amputees. As we became increasingly aware of how many victims lost limbs, we knew we needed to offer Hope in some way. As I shared in my last blog, God made us very aware we were to go there.

As our team, which included Tom Hamilton, Bethany’s dad, Mike Coots, another board member who lost a leg in shark attack, and me, headed to Boston, it was a step of faith for us to go. Since security was very high, no one was being granted access to the victims. We weren’t sure how the doors would open, but we knew we needed to walk forward in complete faith and trust that God would open them.

Upon arrival, we went to every hospital where victims were. We talked to the liaisons of the hospitals sharing about who we were and why we were there. We walked away from those meetings pretty discouraged. Everyone we met at the hospitals were very kind, but they weren’t allowing anyone in; we grew weary, second guessing if we would get in to see anyone. The voices of defeat were on the forefront of our hearts, trying to evoke fear and discouragement. Our hotel faced the same street, on which the bombs exploded, literally steps away for the actual sight. There was such a somber feel all around the area. That coupled with all the media, there was no way to escape the constant reminders of what had happened days earlier. People lacked hope and now, we as believers who came to offer hope, were forgetting to hold fast to that hope. You see we were forgetting that God is the one who opens doors. He is faithful at all times, even in a world who wants to silence Him.

That evening at the hotel I sat in my room praying for the victims and their families. I was praying for God to continue to lead our footsteps as He had lead us all the way to Boston. Then the most amazing thing happened. At 9pm my phone began ringing with calls from doctors and hospital administrators sharing how they were excited we were there and were working on getting us in to see the victims. Then I had family members of victims calling, inviting us to come visit their family members who had lost limbs in the bombing. I was on the phone until midnight with people, yes midnight! God, in those hours put together a schedule to go in and bring His hope to these families. I couldn’t sleep all night. I was blown away yet again by His faithfulness.

The next morning, we found ourselves getting through security and in the ICU waiting room, waiting to see a mother and daughter who were sharing a room together. Both were majorly effected by the bombs. As they were finishing their therapy, the trauma team came in to talk to us. When they heard about who we were and why we came, I saw God begin to use us to minister to the medical team as well. I guess we forget about the heaviness they too are facing seeing all of these people who had lost so much. We were able to give them t-shirts and Soul Surfer DVD’s. They were so full of joy and excitement. They began saying, “Oh you have to see this person, and you have to meet that person.” They started going to other family members on that floor telling them about us. It was unbelievable! People began coming in to see us and talking with us and we were able to give them gifts and Aloha (love) from Hawaii. After hearing our story, they began to realize there is Hope and that they will get through this.

There was a dad who came into the ICU unit and he looked so broken. His daughter had lost her leg and they were fighting to save her other leg. His son-in-law had lost his leg too. In the craziness that transpired after the bombing, they were sent to separate hospitals and hadn’t been together since. As he shared his heart, he began asking us questions and you could see his spirit being renewed. He got silent for a moment and then looked to Tom, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “You know exactly how I am feeling right now.” Tom’s eyes filled with tears as well and he said, “Yes, I do.” At that moment I could remember all the pain I saw in Tom’s eyes while Bethany laid in the hospital. Now God was bring purpose through that pain he had felt years ago. After all he had faced, God had painstakingly prepared him for this very moment. Tom was able to offer the hope he had in Christ to this hurting father. Father to father, tear to tear.

When we entered the room of the mother and daughter, we couldn’t help but hurt for them. The mother had lost both legs in the bombing and the daughter had almost bled to death after shrapnel came close to severing her main artery. The doctors were fighting to save her leg as well. They were familiar with Bethany’s movie and the daughter had really looked up to Bethany’s story. Mike, having lost a limb himself, was able to encourage the mother and shared with her how she can live a full life. This would not keep her down. The mother saw some shell bracelets I was wearing and she lit up. She said, “That’s something I can do. I love shells and have collected them for years. I could make jewelry out of them.” It reminded me of when Bethany had lost her arm and she was wondering what she would do with her life. I remember her telling me one morning in the hospital, “Sarah, maybe I’ll be a pro soccer player, or photographer.” “Maybe,” I replied, “but Bethany, God gave you a gift in your surfing, and just because you lost your arm, doesn’t mean He took that gift away.” You see in the greatest moments of despair, we are never without hope. I took those bracelets off my hand and gave one to that mother and daughter. I told the mother after she makes some of her own jewelry, she could send me something. I wanted her to remember that there was something she could and would do in her future.

We saw that in every footstep we took while in Boston that they were directed by the Lord. The next day, Tom flew home. Mike and I had one more day and we were sure God would open more doors. The night before, I received an email from a young girl who had seen the movie and recognized me. She found my email address and wrote me. She was born without a hand and had looked up to Bethany and me. She asked if there was any way we could meet up. We made plans to meet that next day. Her mom and her met me at Starbucks, and she was so sweet. She had been dealing with a bad infection and the doctors weren’t sure what it was (that’s why she was at the hospital). Her mom shared how she had been very down and discouraged by it. Her mom began crying and said, “I felt like her meeting you was a sign from God that she needed encouragement.” We shared for an hour and I walked away feeling like I was the encouraged one. I thought, “God, if this was what You had for me today, I’m so blessed, but if You have more, please lead us to what You have.

I then received a call from a girl whose sister lost her leg. The sister was extremely depressed and refused to see anyone. Finally she encouraged her to allow us to come to see her. We took a taxi to go see her. Once we cleared security, the guy who was representing the young lady stopped us and said, “No photos,” which we totally understood. We didn’t want to commercialize what they had gone through. When we went in, this sweet lady looked like the weight of the world was on her shoulders. We began sharing with her and after a few moments she saw Mike’s prosthetic and invited us to sit. She began asking him all kinds of questions. You see Mike had lost the same leg in the same place as she had. It was so amazing to see how she opened up. We were able to talk to her for an hour. By the end of the conversation, she was saying she wanted to run the marathon next year. She went from not knowing if she would or could do anything, to seeing and dreaming big. I told her if she runs it, I would run it with her. We invited her to come to Kauai and spend time there to heal. She told us we didn’t have to invite her twice and she would come. As we walked away from that room Mike said, “Sarah, can I hug you.” As we hugged, he said, “I will never be the same, I am forever changed.” Mike was experiencing the hope and purpose he had in being able to share with others through what he had faced.

The great question seems to be, if there is a God then why… ? I don’t have the answer to all the whys! I’ve never had all the why’s answered in my own life. The truth is, when we come through tragedy, heartache and pain, we forever see things differently. For me, I choose to live with a Hope and a purpose. To surrender all to Jesus and see Him use my story as His story to the World. I am humbled and blessed to do so! I have never walked away from the opportunities He has given me, radically changed. He is faithful and sovereign. Just because there is bad in the world, doesn’t mean He is an unloving God. No, quite the opposite. He loves us so much, that he is always available to you and I. There is no certain way to have access to Him, except through Jesus Christ. The beauty of God is, we come to Him just as we are and He is there! His arms are open wide to you and me. I love that!! Just as I am, flaws and all. He makes all things beautiful.

I want to close with this last story. We had shirts made and after going around and passing them out, we had a few left over. On our last day there, they had opened up the street where the bombs had gone off to the public. Mike asked if we should go give the shirts to the police and first responders on the streets. I thought is was a great idea, so we walked down the street giving out shirts and talking with police officers, firemen and swat team members. They were so blessed and honored that we would give them shirts. It was an exchange of thank you’s back and forth. Us thanking them for all they had done and them thanking us for coming to Boston. It was amazing to see so much love and it made me realize this is what the church should be doing. Going out, sharing the love of Christ. Making His voice shout loudly to the World that He is there, He is not dead. He is alive and wants to make us alive in Him.

We had a girl come up to Mike crying, and said, “You’re walking already!” We smiled and had to gently let her down, sharing that Mike did not lose his leg in the bombing. As she learned why we were there, she cried all the more. You see the world can’t grasp that God is so loving and He would prompt the hearts of a few to go the distance and be His hands and feet on the ground. May we all be willing to be out there, and in doing so, we will experience life in its fullness. Thank you to all who prayed and supported us. You made this trip possible. We can’t all go, but we can all have a part. No one part is of more value than the other. Every part is so important to make it all work out.

1Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain unto the Lord.
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