Everyone is an author. Whether we want to be or not. Whether it’s through purposeful reaction or purposeful neglect. Through observation and resulting action, or observation and inaction, we are all authors in the stories of the lives we come in contact with.
A while back I was traveling and received an amber alert on my “smartphone” while we were sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to board. I’m not sure, but I think it may have been the first time I had ever received one. I clicked on the alert and read the content which was relatively short and void of much detail. A 10-year-old female was the subject of the amber alert and had last been seen by her mother late the prior evening when she had put her to bed.
There was a picture of the girl. She was petite with dark hair and dark eyes. She was smiling in the picture and looked to be a healthy, happy little girl who was just beginning a life filled with all the promise and hope of the young.
I shared the alert on Facebook, then switched my phone to airplane mode as we got ready to board the plane, but not before bookmarking the amber alert page. It was a number of hours before I had the chance to see if there were any updates, and when I did finally have the chance to read it, I was almost sorry that I had ever received the amber alert in the first place. Vacations are not supposed to start out with sadness. The little girl had been found, but it wasn’t the happy ending I had hoped for. Not at all in fact; for she was dead and the authorities were certain it was foul play.
The more I read, the more the variety of emotions I experienced. You see, I read the updates backwards; first seeing that she had been found. Then I read the rest of the updates in reverse order all the way to the beginning. It was in doing so, that I experienced frustration, confusion and anger to go along with the sadness I was already feeling. One paragraph revealed that a man had seen the young girl in a parking lot outside of a store. She was alone and crying. He had no interaction with her. Another revealed that she had been seen crossing a busy street not far from her home. Again, she was alone and the witness expressed that they “had been concerned to see such a young girl by themselves”, but had no interaction with her. Yet another witness had seen her walking along a busy highway, once again all alone. The witness had no interaction with her.
On the very same highway, one final witness saw a suspicious looking individual with ragged clothes and a backpack interacting with the young girl that fit the description. The witness had no interaction with the young girl. None of the witnesses had interaction. Nor did they report what they had seen to authorities until after the disappearance had been reported.
The young girl was found deceased less than two miles from where she had last been seen.
I searched for more details on the story at a later date, but found nothing. Sadly, thousands of children disappear every year and only a few even make the news. This was one of the tragedies that did not. All I know of the story of her life is that she was once a beautiful and smiling young girl with a life story yet to be written. Then suddenly, she was gone and her life story had been reduced to one final sad chapter; cowritten by the evil individual who took her young life and the four individuals who saw a young girl in peril and did nothing to help her.
As I sat down to write the story for this month’s newsletter, the very act spawned the thought that each and every one of us are the author of chapters in the life stories of the people we interact with throughout our lives. That’s when I remembered the story of the young girl in the amber alert. That in turn got me to thinking about our mission here at Orphan’s Lifeline International and how very true and significant that is for each one of us involved in this work to save God’s precious children.
Every one of you has written a chapter in the life of the children we provide for. In fact, you have completely changed the very nature of their story. The sad truth is that without your help, their stories would have likely been very short and very sad tales indeed. For some, they would have simply been stories of dying, young and alone. Precious little lives needlessly cut short. For some, it would have been heart-wrenching stories of human trafficking. For others, the story of their life in prison or their death by a rival gang member. Then there would be the tales of prostitution and drug addiction. Perhaps even a story of two young orphans recruited by terrorists. What is certain is that very few of the stories would have been good. Very few would contain a chapter in which they learned the story of Jesus or the hope of heaven.
We are all authors.
We help write chapters in the life stories of the people around us every day. It’s not just what we say or do, but conversely, what we don’t say or do that contributes to their story in a positive or negative fashion. It doesn’t necessarily just change that chapter either. Sometimes it changes the entire direction of the story.
Consider the story of Benjamin. When you first learned his story, it was not only a sad story in and of itself; it was a story of a young life going nowhere. A life with a very sad future. It was a story of a young boy who lived in pain every day. The story of a bright, young mind being wasted because it was so difficult for him to get to school with his injured and deformed leg. It was the story of a boy who was ostracized and made fun of by his peers because he was different. If you had not become authors in his story, what would the tale of his life have been? It certainly would not have contained its most recent chapters. Chapters in which Benjamin walks strong and tall without so much as a limp. Chapters where he runs and plays with his friends at school…friends that he didn’t even have before. The chapter where he shot to the top of his class wouldn’t have even been a potential concept in his life story. Those of you who helped him are the authors of those wonderful chapters. Ultimately, Benjamin will grow to become an adult. Ultimately, he will then become more and more responsible for writing his own life story. But, it’s your authorship that has given him the very opportunity to do so.
There are many such stories that all of you have helped to write. Each and every one of them is a precious story that would have never been written if you had been presented with the opportunity to help, but had chosen not to.
I don’t know the exact circumstances of the interactions the witnesses had with the young girl in the tragic story I related earlier. I don’t know what was in their minds or in their hearts at the time. Was it fear that stopped them from acting to help her? Was it the assumption that someone else would help her? Was it the belief that it was not their responsibility? I don’t know, but what I do know is that regardless of their intentions, they became authors in the story of that young girl.
We are all authors.
Every day here at Orphan’s Lifeline we are all authors in the life stories of the thousands of orphan children we currently care for. The future will bring new opportunities to do the same. Whether it’s through prayer, spreading the word, through financial gifts or gifts in kind, the action you take in response to your compassion doesn’t just change their stories…it changes yours.
We are all authors.