By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
Cindy* is a 17-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy. She cannot walk or talk, and caring for her requires almost constant attention. Her mother, Valeria*, is unable to work because she must stay home to take care of Cindy full time. The meager wage Cindy’s stepfather brings home as a farmer is the family’s only source of income.
Last year, Valeria fell ill and had to be hospitalized. She received a terrifying diagnosis—cancer. As a mother, her fears were not for herself, but for her daughter. Who would care for her? The answer to this question is exactly as God intended it to be: the church.
A group of volunteers from nearby Central Baptist Church accepted the responsibility to help take care of Cindy while her mother was in the hospital. One woman in particular, Diana*, became Cindy’s primary caregiver. Diana’s service to Valeria and Cindy is a direct result of the training she received through Tesoros De Dios, the World Orphans ministry partner in Managua. This ministry focuses on training and encouraging churches to reach out and care for families with disabled children. Culturally, disabilities are seen as a curse for some grave sin. But these churches are pushing back against the cultural norm, armed with the biblical truth that all children are created and loved by God.
Every day Diana would go to Cindy’s home and care for her in a beautiful display of Christ’s sacrificial love. She fed her, bathed her, clothed her, helped her go to the bathroom, sang to her, and eventually developed a genuine friendship with Cindy. She cared for and loved Cindy, whom many considered to be a curse, as she would her own daughter.
While Valeria was in the hospital, Diana and the other believers at Central Baptist were faithfully praying for her and visiting her. After a couple months in the hospital, her health began to improve! The doctors declared that the cancer had left her! She was able to return home and now goes to the hospital only for occasional checkups to ensure the cancer has not returned. Praise the Lord! Diana still frequently visits her dear friends, Valeria and Cindy, and she helps out whenever she is needed.
Diana speaks of Cindy with deep love and respect, not as a tiresome burden. She believes that “even though Cindy cannot speak, that does not mean she can’t understand. Spend some time with her, and you’ll see how she lights up when she hears a certain song and dances along in her wheelchair!”
When we consider Diana—how she spent weeks devoted all day every day to lovingly and tenderly caring for Cindy, and how she took on such a big commitment without asking for anything in return–we see something remarkable. In Diana we see what the church should be. Caregivers. Servants. Friends. Prayer warriors. This is not just the calling placed on Diana’s life but on the life of every believer. We are to pour ourselves out as a living sacrifice in service to others.
Diana’s counter-cultural willingness to serve is humbling. She took on the responsibility of caring for a child with severe special needs, an act of service which demanded time, effort, and attention. In contrast, many of us feel too busy to sacrifice one hour per week to serve in the church nursery, teach a youth Sunday School class, or visit someone in the hospital, much less become someone’s caregiver. Even though our story and our service may look very different from Diana’s, we should be looking for ways to serve others right here in our own communities. Neighbors. Classmates. Coworkers. Who can we serve today?