Unconditional Hope in these Unprecedented Times
We received the following moving story from Lt. Karen Felton at the Midwest Corps Community Center. Though the story unfolded during Christmas last year, the lesson she learned from it is as relevant as ever as COVID-19 continues and the needs it has created persist. No matter what you are facing, may this story offer you hope.
Perhaps because of COVID and all the various struggles happening, the people who participate in our Angel Tree program were even more generous this past Christmas. For the first time ever during my time at Midwest, we had people actually calling and asking to adopt families.
As the one overseeing the Angel Tree program at our corps, I had the awesome privilege of calling the families and helping them create their wish list. This is the fun part of my job, being able to help families dream big for Christmas and knowing that “angels” were out there ready to make these dreams come true.
One day our office manager told me about a single mom with eight children who had been coming off and on to our Pathway of Hope program. She told me that some of the kids were hers, and some were the children of her sister who had passed away from cancer at the beginning of 2020. I wasn’t sure how I would do it, but I was determined to get this family adopted.
I called my three siblings and asked if they would each take on one of the children. My husband and I took one of the children and the mom. Someone from Blue Cross took on the other four children.
I will never forget the day I called the mom to get her wish list. I was feeling very down. I had gotten another bad report from my asthma doctor, I was sad that health issues were keeping me away from the corps during Christmas, I was stir-crazy, and, honestly, I was feeling sorry for myself. Then I called this mom.
I explained to her what it meant to be “adopted” through our Adopt-a-Family program and asked her if she could come up with a wish list for each of the kids and herself. She was so humbled, and trying to get her to dream big and ask for things took some work. Once we got through the wish list, I asked her if there was anything more we could do for her. She told me that Midwest had already done so much.
Then she went on to tell me more of her story. Her sister died at the beginning of 2020. Then, throughout that violent summer in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, her two brothers died from gun violence a month apart from each other.
Her elderly aunt and uncle had been living with her, and they had custody of their two grandchildren. Her aunt and uncle both got COVID-19 in late November. Her aunt passed away from COVID first, and the day I called her she had been at the funeral home making arrangements for her uncle, who had just died from COVID as well.
This mom now had temporary custody of two more children. I was stunned by the level of loss she had experienced in just 10 months’ time. It was incomprehensible.
I asked her again what we could do for her and her family. Again, she said you have all done so much for me. Then she went on to say this: “God is so good. I feel Him working all the time. He never leaves me. He is so good.”
Once again, I was stunned. Here she was facing tremendous loss, 10 children in her home, handling all of this on her own, and she was proclaiming the goodness of God. And here I was sitting in my own self-pity.
God convicted my heart that day. So often we think we are teaching the people we serve about the love of God, but that day I learned something invaluable from this mother. God is good, no matter the circumstances, no matter what is happening. He is good. All the time. I am so grateful for the gift she gave me that day.