A year has passed since I sat in the back of a pickup truck in Haiti, while we were parked outside a ramshackle hut without windows.
Somewhere on the dark side of that loosely-hinged door in Haiti, a baby lay limp and naked on the filthy floor.
I balled my skirt in my fists, pulling it up around my knees, and lifted my leg over the back side of the truck. My oldest daughter, Lydia, followed behind me. She stayed close to her mama, like she was afraid the darkness might seep out of the tiny hut and grab her.
I might have been a little scared of that myself.
We leaned against the dusty truck, waiting and praying.
Two of the men in our group slipped into the tiny house to find the baby, to ask the questions that needed asking, and to do a quick examination of the child.
The baby boy had been abandoned by his mother, and had been left with his father.
But the father had been unable to feed or care for his son,
his only son,
his firstborn son.
He had no money, and no choice. Except to give him up.
The baby lolled like a limp rag in the arms of one of our men.
The father asked us if we’d take the baby away, if we’d take his son, his only son, to the orphanage. It’s not that he didn’t want the boy. He only wanted to make sure that his son might live.
One of the women held the baby in the covered cab of the pickup. I sat in the back, in the open bed of a dusty pickup truck, with Lydia. We sat across from the father. All of us bounced along the rocky path, headed for the orphanage. The father clenched his jaw, staring into nowhere, like he might pluck some courage out of thin air. Like maybe he was a bit like Abraham, headed up the mountain with his son.
“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
~ Genesis 22:2
A Baby Named Steve
The pickup pulled up to the orphanage’s clinic, and we all piled out, toward an altar — the kind of place where you surrender something at the feet of your God. Orphanages can be like that. They can be like altars, uncomfortable but necessary.
We found out the boy’s name was Steve. And we thought it such an odd name for a baby boy from Haiti. We all knew guys named Steve back in the United States. Steve was the public relations guy at the university, the car-insurance salesman, the usher at church. We giggled, maybe a bit too much, the way nervous people do when they’re scared for the worst, but hoping for the best, and not really sure what to say.
The orphanage director took the baby into his arms. And the baby’s father followed him through the clinic doors.
There would be paperwork to sign. To make it official.
And later, that stoic Daddy held things together when, at last, it was time to go. The orphanage director put a hand on the shoulder of the father and told him he could come back anytime; this was his son.
And none of us knew if he ever would come back again.
That baby named Steve? He was no Isaac. There was no ram in the thicket. Steve stayed on the altar like a sacrifice. And the father left, alone.
Laying Down Our Isaacs
It’s been a year since that day we picked up Steve. His dad never came back for him, and I don’t know the reasons why.
I think about Steve as Lent approaches, and as we consider what we’ll “give up” in the days leading up to Easter.
I’ve given up some things at the altar before–some bad habits, dumb compulsions, lazy behaviors, and so on. But I’ve never had to lay a real Isaac on the altar. Not really.
I’ve never given up something that hurt so bad that I didn’t know if I could breathe.
But I watched a man in Haiti do it. I watched a man give up his son, because he wanted that boy to really live.
And I’ve read about a guy named Abraham, who was willing to give up his son, his only son, because He wanted to to be obedient.
And I know in my heart about another Father, who gave up His son, His only Son, because He loved the rest of enough to do the unthinkable.
To lay a child down.
(This is an edited post from the archive, as I’m dealing with some illness in the home this week)
UPDATE ON STEVE
We saw Steve during our recent trip to Haiti, and he took a real shine to the girls. Steve is being cared for at Tytoo Gardens Orphanage, where our family spent about a week over Thanksgiving.
He’s healthy and happy and will get to attend the Touch of Hope school in a few years.
A VIBELLA PARTY
You know by now how I love the ministry of ViBella Jewelry in Haiti. This month, I am helping host a ViBella party as a fundraiser for dear friends who are adopting a little girl named Gracie from Haiti. The money raised with this fundraiser will not only support Gracie’s Adoption but will also support the women who make the jewelry and their families.
You can shop by clicking here, and be sure to include the code FST09 in the coupon code section. This ensures that credit will go toward the Gracie Adoption fundraiser.
Remember code FST09 at the checkout. 🙂
(Photo: Anna holding Gracie. We were able to meet her during our recent trip to Haiti.)
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