Why we choose to SPEAK UP
If we’re friends on Facebook, then you know I’m always putting out random bits of knowledge or just showing my LIFE and emotions to everyone. I can’t hide them. This post is no different. This isn’t a CEO type post…it’s gut-level REAL. Proceed with caution…
Tonight as I played Mr. Mom at my house, while Missy is in Haiti leading a team, I watched my kids play. I watched Eli use his imagination to create a ramp for his bicycle. He created it with a piece of plywood and an old suitcase (after going to Haiti, that suitcase can withstand anything he can throw at it). He jumped his bike off of the homemade ramp and immediately both Tia and Naika had to follow. They rode, jumped, and laughed for what seemed like hours. Lane was sitting on the couch, waiting for me to fix his food, and listening to his iPod. Dyllan was at work…and my mind started to play with my emotions…and anger crept in (if this were a TV show, this is where the cool dream sequence music would come in).
As I watched my kids play, I thought about the kids in Haiti that Missy and the team are with right now. The lives of many of the children in the village of Neply have been changed because of good people doing great things. Children in Neply have begun to learn that we are there not to give them “things” that they might want, rather, we are there to LIVE LIFE with them…and to tell their stories to anyone who will listen. They have HOPE…much like our own kids here in the United States. The children of Neply are starting to believe that they can make a difference and that they can be anything they want! That is what we have wanted to start with.
Then the anger crept in. I got angry because my mind went to Jay. Jay lives at our campus as a member of our Family. He was our second child to come live there and immediately brought a laugh and passion for LIFE that many had never seen before. He has difficulties…seizures, epilepsy, autism, and sickle-cell trait, but his LIFE is starting to shine through his difficulties.
Why did I get angry when I thought of Jay?…well let me explain.
Jay came to us in April and it was obvious he had lived way beyond his years. He was shy at times and larger than LIFE at times. When he first arrived, he immediately called all the women–Mama and all the men–Papa. It doesn’t matter who you are, to Jay you are Mama or Papa. This boy is looking for love and acceptance. He was found wandering the streets after the earthquake and was taken in by an amazing woman who did her best to take care of him. When Jay came to us, she loved him as her own.
One thing we noticed about Jay almost immediately was the burns that covered his shoulder and were on parts of his back. We were told that he had been burned but that was all that anyone knew…until recently.
We have recently found out that Jay has been around the area almost his whole LIFE. His disabilities are impossible to hide…people know him. If you’ve ever heard him scream or shout one word over and over (he loves to scream PHOTO…or GOAL for hours on end), you know almost immediately that Jay is different.
A woman who has known Jay for a few years told our staff that Jay’s burns came from a Voodoo service, where a group of people tried to sacrifice him by fire…but he got away. That’s right, this little boy who loves, laughs, smiles, and melts your heart, was almost burned alive! I’m not talking that they burned him with a candle as part of a ritual, I’m saying they tried to literally throw him into a large fire and KILL HIM!! I don’t care what your spiritual background is…that is WRONG. I draw eerie parallels to the story of the father in Mark 9:22 who was begging for help for his son. The only problem–JAY HAD NO ONE. No one was there to SPEAK UP for Jay…he faced this murderous event ALONE…and he escaped. How did he do that?
THAT is where my anger came in. Why did no one choose to SPEAK UP for Jay then? Who thought it was right to let this happen to a child?
What has THAT SINGLE EVENT done to this poor child? How does he get through the moments when he remembers it? How has that event shaped him into someone who might never be able to fully recover? In a matter of moments, Jay’s LIFE went from difficult to impossible…because someone took advantage of him.
My mind has raced over so many emotions. I’m a few steps beyond angry and a mile past calm as I write this. I want to meet those people. I want to introduce them to fire…but then I calm down. I realize something…Jay is protected now. He’s protected by a FAMILY that will take care of him…forever. I relax at that thought, but I immediately begin to think about other kids like Jay who aren’t so lucky. What if no one chooses to SPEAK UP for them?
The worst part about all of this…it wasn’t a dream. It was HIS REALITY!!!
SPEAK UP…It’s not a slogan or a mission statement anymore…it’s REALITY. We HAVE TO SPEAK UP. We need people to share the stories they know about kids like Jay. We can truly make a difference in Haiti and around the world…one story at a time. I’m not playing…this is so much more than a cool design on a t-shirt or a sticker…this is choosing to SPEAK UP…use your voice…SPEAK LIFE for kids like Jay around the globe…even kids in your own neighborhood. We can’t act like it’s not there anymore.
Will you help? –mike