My heart is so full from all that I want to share here today. Will you grab some coffee or hot cocoa and hang out here with me for a little while? But before we get started and it’s too late, I first wanted to make sure you download your FREE COPY OF “Scared”, by Tom Davis, ’cause today is the last day! So far I think they’ve had over 3000 downloads.
One of the things JJ and I love about Tom is that he doesn’t just write about challenging situations, he lives them. As President of Children’s Hopechest (and co-founder of Saints Coffee), he spends a large part of the year on the ground in Africa with thousands of children who have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
He lives and writes from a place of knowing, hurting, searching and finding his passion which was birthed through Holy longing. He and his wife were also orphans, and they have adopted at least one orphan (maybe more, still need to get those details.) In any case, they are the real deal and their ministry moves me! Here is an interview I just watched that gives a peak into their story.
His novel, SCARED, was inspired by a young girl he met in Swaziland. A while back my friends at She Reads had the chance to sit down with Tom and learn a little about the inspiration for SCARED. Here is the interview…
One of the main characters in your novel, a twelve year old AIDS orphan named Adanna, was inspired by a real child. Can you tell us a little about the real Adanna and how she compelled you to write this novel?
The idea of Adanna does stem from a real girl I met in Swaziland who was twelve years old at the time. She was a gorgeous little girl filled with life. Her joy was contagious and she just loved being around our group, hugging on various team members and playing games with us in the field. Both of her parents had died from AIDS and she was taken in by her uncle. Sadly, she became a slave for him and his family. Neighbors complained to the authorities that she was being abused and she was removed from the home. The only issue she struggled with besides being shy when she arrived at the orphanage, was one of incontinence. They thought the poor thing had never been potty trained. They took her to the doctor to find out what was wrong. The truth was almost unbelievable. Her incontinence was a result of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her uncle and other men he had sold her to. I walked around the rest of that day in tears. I couldn’t believe someone would treat a child is such an evil way. Then those kinds of stories became more of the norm for me on the trip. The Adannas in Africa are real kids, with dreams and hopes of a good future. A future that won’t exist unless the body of Christ gets involved in their lives.
Though this novel is hard to read in many places, one of the things I appreciated most about it was that you did not pull your punches. You unflinchingly portrayed suffering and heartbreak while weaving in mercy and hope. How did you find that balance? And did you struggle personally while telling this story?
It was quite difficult. I wanted to write a story that was honest. It is graphic in places but I can assure you that orphans in Africa and around the world experience things much worse than what you read on those pages. That was one of the most difficult realities for me to swallow as I researched and wrote the book. Thinking about the abuse millions of innocent children go through every single day is a frightening truth. There came a point in the story when I couldn’t let one more terrible thing happen to Adanna. Originally, I wanted a scene in the book where Adanna was forced to sell her body in order to feed her younger brother and sister. It happens all the time in Africa. But I couldn’t do it.
While reading SCARED I was struck by the characters – not just how real they were, but how they could be any of the people in my life. Which character do you relate to the most? Why?
Stuart, without a doubt. He is me in many ways. My story is the story of a man searching for meaning in life and finding it the eyes of orphans. I think deep inside each one of us is a desire to help suffering children. It’s how God made us! Our hearts should break with compassion for the Adannas in the world. Even though Stuart has had great success in his life, he struggles to live with significance. Don’t we all to some degree? Of course raising godly children and loving our spouses is our first priority. But how can we invest our lives in ‘least of these’ Jesus talks about in Matthew 25? Their is so much eternal impact that comes from feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. That’s my journey and Stuart’s too!
All fiction carries a message – something the author wants the audience to wrestle with. When readers turn the last page of Scared, what do you want them to take away?
“We need the poor more than the poor need us.” Yes, Jesus wants us to care for the poor and love our neighbors as ourselves. But I need to love the broken and care for the afflicted, not because I’m Biblically bound, but because it’s what I was created to do. It’s what makes me the most alive.
I have a feeling you will be hearing more here about Tom and his family/ministry to orphans. They are living out what JJ and I are very passionate about. We know the power that hope has to change the life of an orphan, and the beauty of adoption to forever alter the life of a family!
After reading and watching Tom’s interview, what is God stirring in your heart? What will you do today to pray for, support or love on the orphans God calls us to love; the fatherless and often forgotten?
We can all pray and then take one step. Maybe order from Saints Coffee, sponspor an orphan or buy Tom’s novel, SCARED, and pass it to a friend to spread awareness. I’m going to get us started by posting my prayer in the comments. Will you join me there?
(Simply click on the word “comments” and type your prayer in the white box. If you don’t have a blog, click anonymous.) I can’t wait to read and listen in my heart to the echoes of our prayers ascending to heaven on behalf of these beautiful and precious children.