God’s little messenger, sent to us

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One Thursday evening, my wife was rushed to hospital. She was experiencing labour pain for the first time. We’d been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first baby. It was exciting but scary at the same time. Nervousness and impatience crept in for both of us. She was in distress and so was I. But I had to put on a brave, encouraging face to cheer her up. I could almost feel her fear in the delivery room, but the nurse was chatty and kind, creating a relaxing environment.

Finally, a strange, small, sweet voice was heard—our beautiful and healthy little princess announced her arrival with a cry. It was Friday, December 1, 2017. The day when everything changed. A family I have, a child we hold in our arms, what more could we ask for?

Tears of joy, relief and happiness in full measure—I could not find a word in my entire vocabulary fitting enough to describe the moment. She was so tiny and fragile—an almost helpless little bundle, lying there in her crib. I didn’t dare to carry her yet for fear of hurting her. We named her Viniyanna, the best name we could think of for our sweet little angel.

She grew, bringing joy and purpose into our lives. Each day, after work, what a joy to come home to the most beautiful “women” of my life. Viniyanna had a way of saying “I missed you, Daddy.” As a couple, my wife and I had mountains to climb and many rivers to cross, but Viniyanna’s smile and giggles were enough to soothe our anxieties and frustrations. The happiness and joy she brought into our home were beyond description. We thanked God for her each day. She became the centre of our little world. 

The most beautiful gift we could give her was “How to love Jesus and others”. We taught her biblical principles of love, sympathy, kindness, gentleness, caring, selflessness and contentment with whatever may come. Prayer and Bible study were very important to her because that is where she learned to love God. My little Viniyanna would practise these principles even beyond our own expectations. We were proud of our “little messenger sent from above”. 

At the age of four, Viniyanna developed asthma. She was often in and out of the hospital, at times several times a week. Our prayers were consistent appeals for God to heal her. She trusted and believed Jesus would heal her. She would thank Jesus ahead of time for her healing. The attacks intensified. She had to live with an inhaler to relieve her discomfort. Doctor’s appointments were frequent. Sleepovers at the hospital became the “new normal” for the family.

Despite her struggle, she enjoyed life: going to school, to church, Adventurers meetings and family gatherings. At church, she would share the little she had: plain biscuits and water for example. She enjoyed the company of relatives and church families so much that she wouldn’t miss any opportunities. She loved sitting at the feet of older folks and listening to their stories. She enjoyed being of service to others. She was often found chatting with people. An outgoing person was our little Viniyanna. Often appreciated and loved by those around her, an extrovert personality, she would go out of her way to help anyone. At that age, she taught me a lot about life. A unique and special child she was, and I will cherish her forever.

At the age of five, an aunt of hers paid a visit to our home with her daughter. Unfortunately, my sister did not pack spare clothes for her little one. Our daughter was about the same age and size. My Viniyanna noticed and didn’t hesitate to act. She went to her room, picked up a brand-new T-shirt, which she had not used, and gave it to her cousin. This same shirt was a gift from her aunt. She decided it was the right thing to do, and so it was. That taught us a very valuable lesson—to always give our best to others as we would do to God. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.” She acted within her little power to give the best she had.

My angel was always concerned about other people’s wellbeing. The day she received a “penny bank” from her mum, she started collecting all the loose coins she could find, as well as those gifted to her. 

One evening in October 2022, Viniyanna had to be admitted to hospital, on the doctor’s advice. As we returned home the next day, she had a conversation with her mum. She felt she needed to share something with her newly found hospital friends. The penny bank was opened, gifts were bought, and off to the hospital we went. The smile on the faces of her new friends warmed my heart as I saw my little angel’s satisfaction in “being like Jesus”. She gave all that she had saved.

A favoured Scripture of mine is found in Psalm 150:6: “let everything that has breath, praise the Lord”. My Viniyanna loved singing, even though the words often seemed strange to her. On the final Sabbath of 2022, opportunities were given to church members, young people and children to share how God had placed challenges in their way and how He had blessed them. While many adults were brave enough to stand and speak, my Viniyanna struggled. But she managed to say in three words all that she had in her heart: “THANK YOU, JESUS”. Little did we know those would be her final moments in our local church. 

On Sabbath January 7, God called our little angel to rest. Her asthma attack had worsened. Doctors tried their best to no avail. Our hearts were shattered into a million pieces. It was hard to accept this reality. Our only comfort was found by “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Reflecting on this sudden circumstance, Job’s experience became a challenge to me. Losing 10 children at once and being robbed of his wealth in one day, Job maintained his habit of worshipping God. Something I could not do, and yet I lost one daughter. It felt like losing everything. I was left hopeless. Job exclaimed, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). We welcome and embrace good things and wealth from the Lord, but when the tide of life turns around, our attitude changes. Our commitment and relationship with God are negatively impacted. Matthew 6:20,21 admonishes us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Our focus and priority should be heaven-bound so that when the toil of life grips us, our commitment, relationship and trust in God remain unshaken, like Job.

Looking back on Viniyanna’s life journey, I can confidently say that she was sent from God to bless us and all those who became acquainted with her. All she ever did during her short time here was to bring happiness and smiles into our lives and the lives of others. She shared whatever she had with everyone, however small—the best she could give. Several times, she gave up everything she had to cheer up the lowly and sickly, praising God at any given opportunity and being a lovely child.

While questions may remain, Isaiah 57:1,2 reminds me “good people pass away, the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.” To those who have had to say goodbye to their little loved ones early, be encouraged that God is calling His faithful ones before their time. Be sure that He is a loving and caring God and does not want to see these little ones suffer. Ellen White stated that “many little ones are to be laid away before the time of trouble. We shall see our children again” (Selected Messages, 2:259). 

We have allocated a small piece of land in our front yard to the Lord, to be used as a “lamb shelter”. It was consecrated and dedicated by Pastor Thomas Seth to the Lord on February 5. In memory of our precious angel and all her good deeds, the site is called “Viniyanna Seth Memorial Lamb Shelter” under the leadership of our local church, Napakou Seventh-day Adventist Church in Port Vila. It will operate as a branch Sabbath school, to start off with, where the targeted audience will be children. The Napakou Sabbath school department will be responsible for organising the early Sabbath morning worship services and visitation around the lamb shelter vicinity. My wife and I will support the worship services in memory of our beautiful daughter. Your prayers are very much needed to support the ministry of this lamb shelter.

Despite the loss in our family, greater blessings have been added. The lamb shelter will require dedicated and committed people to teach these children. Though it may seem unimportant, it is a sacred responsibility. It is a blessing because Jesus Himself loved and blessed children, as we prepare them for heaven and eternity. With the apostle Paul, we would love to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7,8). 

Viniyanna loved Jesus very much and took every opportunity to live her faith. The Lord decided it was time for her to sleep for a little while until that glorious morning. “We have this hope that burns within our hearts”, the hope of eternal life with Jesus and our loved ones. It is this hope that encourages and uplifts us. The day is coming when we will meet our sweet little Viniyanna and never be separated again.

Davidson Seth is the senior accountant at the Vanuatu Mission.

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