Richard Stearns, president of World Vison, shared this story. And then the even bigger truth washed over me. I could see that all across the world people were crying out in desperation to God for help, for comfort; widows, orphans, the sick, the disabled, the poor and the exploited. These millions of prayers were being lifted up to God, and we, each of us who claim to be His followers, were to be His answer. We were the ones who would bring the “good news” of Christ to the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden. God had not turned His back on the poor in their suffering. God had sent us. This was the good news of the gospel—good news indeed for the poor.
I will return to my comfortable home in a few days. I’ll tuck my children into their comfortable beds and read them a story. The familiar routines of my life will resume again. But tonight, Octaviana is still on that mountain in her run-down adobe house. She will sleep on the hard floor with her three children coughing and shivering through the night- hungry and afraid, and she will pray again to her God.
I promised her that I would not forget her. I promised her that I would help. I promised her that I would be the answer to her prayers. May God help me to keep those promises.
The Rest of the story. After my visit, World Vision did come alongside Octaviana and her children, bringing clean water and latrines to her and her community, helping her with food and nutrition through improved gardening, and training her in basic health and sanitation. Not all stories have happy endings. Several years after my visit, it was discovered that Octaviana had advanced breast cancer. Virginia, one of World Vision's caregivers, walked with her through her illness, taking her to the health center in Quiquijana and then to the main hospital in Cuzco, looking for a relief treatment, since she was in a great deal of pain. World Vision made arrangements for a surgery that allowed her to live for another year. Meanwhile, Virginia visited her constantly and made contact with the local church for additional spiritual support. When Octaviana died, World Vision paid for all of her funeral expenses. After her death, Virginia looked for a safe place for her three children.
We do not have to travel around the world to find people in need, just open your eyes there are needs all around.