I am constantly humbled and amazed at the places and people that God presents to us to carry out His work and plan.
My wife, Kim, and I were honored to have the opportunity to travel to Monrovia, Liberia to serve with Brook Hills. On this Short-Term trip, we partnered with Lifeline (un)adopted for gospel sharing through orphan care and life-skills education training. This partnership is a beautiful picture of caring for those beaten by the world by helping older orphans "age out" of their orphanage into a bright and productive future – assimilated into their community rather than a life of human trafficking, dependency, and despair. This was the purpose for being there, but God diverted us to an unexpected yet glorious path.
Our in-country partner was a young pastor and leader named Destiny. He and his wife, Susan, had four children. Their youngest at that time was Emmanuel, lovingly called "Eman."
We arrived, and preparing to set to the tasks on our agenda, we met with Destiny's family in their home for a time of fellowship and planning. Right away, I was drawn to Eman, a precious baby held in Destiny's loving arms.
Now, I am just a lowly veterinarian, out of place and above my head. But I can tell when one of God's creatures is in distress, and Eman was in distress. I took note of his cyanotic (blue) lips and gums and his labored breathing. I asked Destiny if I could hold Eman, ostensibly to get my “baby fix," but in truth to discreetly perform a clandestine examination on him. Without the benefit of a stethoscope, I placed my ear against his chest and then discovered the source of his ailment. Eman had a severe heart murmur that was sapping life and strength from him.
What happened next was truly a work of God through His chosen people.
The Brook Hills team prayed, and through friends and partners in the area (like Samaritan's Purse) set in motion a cascade of works by His people and miracles of His hand that can never be explained through mortal channels.
The process was not easy, and there were many obstacles. Facilities in Liberia – and indeed throughout Africa – that diagnose and treat such defects as Eman had are very rare. However, God’s people all across the globe, in many different capacities, did not allow this to be a deterrent. They pressed on through the gauntlet for three long years to finally see God’s plan for healing a little boy’s heart come to fruition.
Just last summer, Eman received a life-saving surgery to repair and heal his broken heart.
Our team journeyed to Liberia to minister through orphan care and life-skills education training, and we accomplished that. But we received the unexpected joy and blessing of witnessing the mending of a physical life that may have deteriorated before his Mama and Daddy's eyes had we not been given the opportunity to be at God's place in God's time.
I await with great anticipation what God might do through the extended life of Eman. I rejoice in the testimony that Destiny and Susan have to share of God's grace and mercy manifested through His people and His church, united from one continent to another, to heal hearts and spread the good news of Christ our Savior. And I rest in the knowledge that He loves me so much that He allows me to play a small part in the implementation of His glorious plan – even when it does not match the original script I expected to act out.
So often, our puny agenda is altered with completely unexpected occurrences by our gracious God, in order to glorify Him and to bless our lives in ways we would never have dreamed.
Thank you, God, that you don't fit inside my box.
Thank you for Liberia, for Eman, for Destiny and Susan, for Brook Hills, for life, for mission, for work. In your name, amen.
Bill Christenberry and his wife, Kim, have been married for 31 years and have eight children, five of whom are adopted. They’ve been members of Brook Hills since 1990. Bill is a veterinarian and part-owner of Caldwell Mill Animal Clinic. He serves as chairman of the Lifeline (un)adopted board, and Kim serves on the national board with Lifeline Children’s Services. As adoptive parents themselves, Bill and Kim also currently lead a support group for adoptive families at Brook Hills.