In the year 2000, I was busy acting a fool. Capital F-O-O-L! I was a Lieutenant in the Army stationed in Bavaria, Germany. I frequently overslept for work. Disclosure: I have never been a morning person and in spite of the Army's claim to do more before 5 a.m. than most people do all day, that statistic most certainly did not include yours truly. I spent my weekends at countless nightspots around Germany and when work allowed, at various others countries within commuting distance. Whether on the train to various locations in Germany, the bus to France or Italy, or on a plane to England or Ireland, the thought of settling down and getting married made me break out in hives. After all, I was only 21 years old and fresh out of college. I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that while I was on a bus ride returning from Italy, my son's birthmother was about to deliver my son. (I was attending the Pope's Christmas Mass at the Vatican that year.) While she would not live to see her son's first tooth, hear his first word, or watch him take his first step, God was already at work and stirring my heart for the oppressed, forgotten and ultimately for our future children.
While I cannot explain the reasons, I have always had a heart for Africa. Beginning with those horrible commercials in the 80's and continuing through present day, I feel physical, tangible pain for a continent mostly neglected by the rest of the world. It has always broken my heart to look around and see our abundance and excessive consumption in the developed world and how so much of what we acquire is done at the expense of the marginalized.
It was new year 2000. The developed world was worried about the Y2K computer glitch and how that may affect their bank accounts and other luxuries. Halfway around the world, a child was born into extremely undesirable circumstances. His birth father had already passed on. A few months after his birth, his mother also passes on. There are no luxuries and most of the time not even necessities. His grandmother raises him and raises him well. His character today is a reflection of her love for him. She passed on. I sipped my wine or over priced coffee, worried about frivolous matters, took vacations with little or no thought, purchased many things that were far from necessities. He had no running water. I drank bottled water. He took nothing for granted. I took most for granted. He was honored to attend school and did his very best to learn and master the subject matter. I felt entitled to an education. Are you seeing the trend? Could a loving and just God really be OK with some of his children living in the lap of luxury while others are disposed of like the midweek garbage? I have learned the answer to this questions is a scream-it-from-the-mountaintops: NO! Maybe that is why so few of us in the developed world feel a genuine sense of purpose in our lives. Perhaps we are chasing the wrong dreams, writing up self-serving goals and plans, and not truly loving our neighbors as ourselves. And guess what? Some of "those are not our problems" people and and places have the one thing we are trying to purchase here in the developed world: joy! Have you met our son? He is filled with joy from head to toe. Filled with humility, honesty, generosity, sincerity, and joy. A child who lost every person who loved and and raised him until he was eleven years of age. A child who witnessed disease, death, and poverty. A child, born into an area of the world so often dismissed. A child of God. A child of joy. A child, who unknowingly is giving me the best present for his birthday. The gift of himself and everything he represents to God and to the world.
Thank you, God for sharing your simple truths of love with our family. Thank you for sharing your children with us. We are your humble servants (help us as needed with the humble part!), listening, and standing ready to be used how you desire.
Melkam Lidet, Sporty! We are blessed and honored to call you son!