The Power of Hope

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.

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PS. The winner of 1lb of delicious coffee from Saints Coffee, is Amy@LivinginHarmony. I hope the rest of us will visit Saints Coffee and order something. Remember 1/3 of the profits go to support orphans in Africa and Russia!
About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Lord, my heart is tender. I can't seem to stop crying. Thank you for the life-changing love you have given us for Aster and for Your children without families.

    You know how long it took for me to let go of my fears and trust you with such a huge life-change. Thank you Jesus for moving my heart beyond my selfish, protective, safe place and calling me to walk onto the beautiful soil that Tom calls the fields of the fatherless. It has truly changed me and our family forever!

    Lord, I open my hands and my heart, once again. I ask You to show us how You would have our family give more of our time, our money and our ministry to care for orphans. I pray that You would bring a great awareness through this blog post, through the links and through any avenues You choose to spread Your message of Hope for the children who have lost so much and yet have so much to gain through the power of Your love and hope!

    Bless Tom and his family, protect their marriage, their ministry, their message and expand their territory for YOUR KINGDOM and for YOUR CHILDREN.

    In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

  2. Father, I praise you that you are a God who hears. I praise you that you are a God who is living and active. I thank you that you have put Your true followers in places where they can reach your hurting and lonely children.

    My heart breaks for the stories I've read and for those I can only imagine. You see each of these precious ones… each of their tears, battered bodies, and broken hearts. Lord, continue to place willing vessels in their paths. Continue to whisper to peoples hearts, so that they can bring your messege of life, and love, and hope. God, may these children feel Your presence around them. May the human arms near them be a physical embrace from you. Reach into their hearts and bring hope and healing, Lord.

    Prick my heart God for selfishness and stubborness. Open my eyes to see Your presence and guiding hand in this situation for what You would have me do. Lord, that I would be able to touch a life…even one. May I be open and receptive to Your calling.

    And Father, I pray that this messege would zip around the globe and that a mighty move in Your name would blossom and grow.

    In Jesus precious name, Amen.

  3. Father,

    Please show us all how we can personally respond. Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed by the scope of the need and seemingly impossible International adoption has become for Americans. Nothing is impossible with You!

    You have put adoption in the heart of our family, but I don't know what way to go. We've tried and tried and faced so many closed doors. Show us what doors to walk through next and in your timing. I pray for your forgiveness for my cynicism and fear.

    I lift all of us who feel the need. It seems like you have pricked the hearts of so many of us lately to respond to the needs of suffering children. Please show us how and equip us. Bind Satan in his attempts to destroy adoption and other efforts to point kids to Christ.

    Please give us all direction on how to respond even in the little ways. Prevent us from being apathetic, hard hearted, or cynical. Show us what to do and give us willing hearts to obey. Give us hearts that say "Yes."

    In Jesus' Name I pray,
    Amen

  4. Dear Lord, children are a beautiful gift of God. Children give us hope for tomorrow and joy to our lives today. How blessed we are that you can bring us so much love into our lives. Help us to desire what you know is best for us. Give us courage to do what is right in your eyes and guide our every step so that every child can come to know you as their Lord and Savior. Help us to always be a blessing for those you bring into our paths. A special blessing for Kris Ann, my sponsored little girl through Compassion International. I want her to experience all the wonderful things in her life that My children and I have experienced. Even though I have never met her, my heart aches for her and hope she can feel the love I have for her. In Jesus name Amen.

  5. Heavenly Father,

    You are so good and Your love endures forever. You have made each one of us and You treasure us above all creation. Thank You for Your never failing love, grace, and mercy. Forgive us for our sins. Forgive those who hurt the little children. May they repent of their wicked ways and turn to You for transformation.

    You are a Father to the fatherless. You love the poor and needy. You extend Your hand to them and supply all their needs. Allow Your church to rise up and defend the weak. You do not need us, but You chose to use us for our blessing and Your glory.

    Use me and my family in any way You see fit. We are open to foster care and adoption, knowing the only possible way we can do that is by Your grace. We need a financial miracle in our own lives so that we can follow Your call to reach out and help those who have less than we do. Please give us a home where we can welcome children in Your name. Specifically we ask for the one near our parents' house where they can be apart of this journey with us and help us along the way.

    You can do all things,and we put our trust in You.

    In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let it be true. "Amen"

  6. Thank you Renee and Tom for selecting me as the winner of the coffee give-away.

    Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for opening hearts to desire to pour out your love to the orphans of the world. Although I do not hear you calling me to go I do pray that you will continue to burden my heart personally to support those that do go. That I would lessen my grip on my time and my money to reach the world that is in need. Lord I also pray that you start now preparing the hearts and soul of little one in Nicarauga that my son and his mission team will be ministering to in a couple of weeks.

    Amen

    amypboyd@bellsouth.net

  7. Renee – I hate to break the precious spirit of this blog but please let me know how to recieve my Cinnonom sticky bun coffee gift. I have a sweet single mom of three that I would love to pass it on to. The father of these little ones passed away just before the youngest one was born and their mom has struggled raising them and dealing with her own mourning. Thanks again for all you share here on your blog.

  8. Hi Amy, all I need you to do is go to the website, choose what type ground (whole bean, coarse, fine, etc) you want and a flavor. Then email me the info and the address you want it sent to. My email is renee@proverbs31.org.

    Thanks and congratulations!

  9. Renee, Thanks i have passed The Saint's Coffee site along, i was thinking a page on facebook would be great, do you know if they have one?

  10. Father, my heart hurts deeply for these children, orphans. Your love is better the life! And your love endures forever. Please show these littles that you are with them! In the midst of such evil, hold them, please let them see you!!! I pray Lord that everyone of these children get to know you and your peace.
    "He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him salvation." Psalm 91:15-16

    Father, honor them. Deliver them. Satisfy them with your Love. Fill them up Lord till their hearts overflow.

    In Jesus Saving Name,
    Amen

  11. Oh Lord, I just lift up these children to you. I pray that they will feel Your presence and I pray that these children will come to know and love You Lord.

    I pray that You will open my eyes that I may see what You would have me to see and what You want me to do.

    Lord thank You for what You have done and for what You are going to do. Please with Tom and his family. Bless them and their ministsry. Lord I ask that you place a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe.

    In Your Name I Pray,
    Angela

  12. Hello i'm new on your board but i cant read correctly a message. Bug in you site ? Thanks you

  13. Renee, you are truly blessed with wisdom.

    Great post.

    Blessings, Nancy J Locke

  14. Dear Lord, too many children are hurting because they have lost their parents, too many families are struggling to continue their work in these trying times. Please bless them and bring security by your good Grace to all.

    Amen

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hello. And Bye.

  16. Renee, I enjoy your blog very much and thank you for posting the interview with Tom- it touched my heart but also reminded me of the need to get out the word on our own orphans here in America. I was blessed with the opportunity to work as a child therapist for a Christian non-profit where I live in Wilmington, NC. Many of our kids have similar situations to that of Tom's Adanna–being orphaned, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and so forth. It is a blessing to read his heart through his words. I want others to know that they can also help by looking into ministries such as the one I worked for (I'm a SAHM now) to serve these sweet children. If anyone is interested, the website is http://www.yahwehcenter.org

    God Bless Tom and others that respond to the need of our little ones.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My heart has been nudged by God to adopt a child from Ethiopia. My husband heart is not quite there. We are praying that God will reveal if this is the path to go down. Please pray for us.
    Betsy

  18. Betsy, I am praying for you right now that God will lead you and your husband to His plans, and that you will have peace while you wait. My husband prayed for three years that God would give me the same desire to adopt as he had. Eventually God clearly called us both and provided in unbelievable ways but we both know that it was His perfect timing!

    Blessings as you seek Him!!
    Renee

  19. I was reading back through this post and realized that last time I left a comment but neglected to leave my prayer…

    Father, thank you so much that I can approach you with that title. That not only have I been blessed with an earthly father, but that I can call you my Daddy as well. Thank you for your heart for children, and for the hearts of those You send to minister to and parent those children that are orphaned, or abused, or in need of someone to show them You.

    Father, I pray that you would move us to act. Whether it be to pray, to serve as part of a ministry, or to foster/adopt, Lord, revive a hunger in Your church to care for the "least of these". I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

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