A tiny gift, almost weightless, lay in my hand. I was scared. It hurt to admit my trepidation, even to myself. Even though my part was insignificant, the occasion was so very important, quite possibly life or death, but I’d never know the outcome for sure if it wasn’t life. My friend, Shala was adopting from Africa. What would happen to the child if she didn’t adopt? It is a question without answer, except to our faithful God.
She’d shown me a necklace she wanted. Expecting from Africa, the pewter words lifted from the small charm. It was $80.00, plus shipping and handling. I couldn’t justify or afford the expense. My heart had been torn. Our budget couldn’t be stretched that far. But, I wanted desperately to give it to her.
“God,” I prayed. “Please let someone give it to her. If it can’t be me, let someone who can afford it get it for her. You know my financial situation. We tithe and give offerings. Our budget is stretched thin. I want her to have it.”
His voice sounded like he was smiling. “So, if you can’t give her that, what can you give her?”
I frantically searched my brain for anything I had that resembled a pregnant Africa. I found nothing. “I don’t have anything.” It was honest.
He still smiled. “What can you make?”
“I don’t have a foundry. I could make her one if I had a foundry, but I don’t have any way to melt the lead or tin to make it.”
I felt him sigh, “What do you have?”
By now I realized I wasn’t clueing up to what he had in mind. “Give me wisdom. Give me knowledge. I don’t know what to do.”
In reply, he flashed a picture into my mind. It was a stack of paper-clad 1/8” thick sheets of acrylic that I’d purchased a few weeks earlier so I’d have materials of my own to use and use up while I learned to run the laser engraver at work. The company had purchased supplies for the projects and a little extra in case of mistakes, but I’d wanted to experiment with colors. The small piece of clear pink acrylic was lying atop the stack. “Make Africa.”
Today, I had the small pink Africa in my hand; I had three of them. Two had been turned into earrings and one into a charm for a necklace. I handed the result of my hours of work to my friend. A heart was cut out in the general area of Ethiopia. To see her smile had been my hope. It wasn’t the necklace that she’d wanted; I knew that. I had hoped, though, that she’d like this one, too. I had prepared myself for the possibility that she wouldn’t like it. Her joyful tears surprised me. In fact, her absolute delight astonished me. I shed a few tears myself.
Within three weeks Shala got the call to come get her daughter and take her to her forever home. She had been assembling gifts for the workers at the orphanage where her daughter was living and for the government officials who were in charge of the tiny girl’s release. She sought me out on Sunday morning. “How hard was it to make my earrings?” Reticence tinged her voice though I knew she fought it. I could see something in her face that surprised me. Excitement and something else. I knew she was going with several other families whose children had also been given final approval to leave the country. Did she have a particular friend who also wanted a set? I wasn’t sure what desire had prompted her question.
“Well, the first one was really hard. I had to learn how to use two different kinds of software. Now, though, if I want to make another one, all I have to do is pull up the right file and hit the print button. I saved it to a thumb drive and on the computer hard drive so I wouldn’t have to do it all again if you lost one.”
She smiled, “Can you make more, then? Fairly easily, I mean?”
I nodded. I could. I could cut out dozens at once. “How many do you need? I can hit print and walk away. The machine doesn’t need me to stay close.”
The upshot of the situation was that she needed 21 pair of earrings in a variety of colors. I also made some of them into charms and put them on key rings for the men who helped make the adoption possible. And then, a missionary from Germany saw them and wanted a few pair.
A few years later, our church bought three homes in Lesotho and started rescuing women and children out of human trafficking. I sent some earrings with our church members who moved there to help run the rescue operations. Many of my friends wear them. Earrings I’ve made are being worn on at least three continents.
But, God isn’t finished with me yet! Enjoying the earrings is a start for the thousands of women who wear them, but the more important part is praying for the women and children trapped in trafficking. That is where I need your help. Please, say a prayer a day for the people who are being trafficked. I need your help because they need our prayers.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt 25:40