I received a note as I shook hands with hundreds of people after a worship service in Papua New Guinea recently (raftetails have been changed but the intent is the same).
It read: “Happy Sabbath President, My name is Ella Geera and I’m in year 10 and 17 years old. My dad died when I was 13. I am living with my big sister and four younger brothers. Life has been hard since Dad died. But overall God, my real Father, has brought me thus far. I am afraid to give you this note. Please take a few minutes to pray for me. Please pray for my country, and for men here so they can treat girls and mothers in a better way. Please pray for my mother—she has HIV—and that we can get a home. Please pray for me; I would like to be a medical scientist and ship captain and serve my government.”
My heart ached. I felt sorrow and anger at the same time. Horrified, my mind raced.
As I read this later, I tried to put a face to the young lady but couldn’t. My heart ached. I felt sorrow and anger at the same time. Horrified, my mind raced, “Why does your mother have HIV? What is the local church doing for you and those in similar situations? How are the men in this church treating women?” I recalled that the church had been pleased to talk about all the new people baptised recently and a new group that had started. I rejoiced; but why the apparent neglect of those who need real help right in front of us?
What am I doing about this situation? I pray for Ella and her dreams. I thanked God for my mother, wife and daughters and asked that I be a model son, husband and father, and that I and my Church can be a real church. This note could have come from any country in the South Pacific. I invite you to pray for Ella, her requests and all those in similar situations.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction . . .” (James 1:27 NRSV).