Passing the Baton
Recently, I found a quote in our daughter Amanda’s journal written on March 4, 2011, the day after she began sponsoring a child in Ghana through International Needs Canada.
“Papa, I want to help baby Charlotte. Please give me an open door. Let me see your glory, feed your children, and nurse their wounds.”
Amanda was 20 years old at the time, dreaming of becoming a doctor. She had a growing passion in her heart to go to Africa. During her first year in medical school, Amanda was able to spend 6 weeks in a remote hospital in Donkorkrom, Ghana, assisting doctors and nurses in the care of their patients. She also visited a local orphanage and enjoyed ministering to the children. After returning home and processing her trip, Amanda realized that her time spent in Ghana had been more about the relationships she developed with her co-workers, patients, and the children at the orphanage, than the work she had done.
With this amazing experience under her belt, Amanda embarked on her second year in medicine. Little did we know that she would not complete her year. On her way back to University, in the middle of a winter storm, on January 5, 2014, Amanda went home to be with her heavenly Father. How does a parent carry on living after such a devastating loss? Can there ever be joy again?
God has shown us that even through our grief, He is with us. His promises do not fail, and we still have reason to hope!
God has given us renewed purpose through various initiatives, one of them being to sponsor Charlotte, Amanda’s sponsored child in Ghana. Approximately three and a half years after Amanda went to Ghana, my husband and I found ourselves on a Discovery Tour with International Needs, visiting their projects in Ghana, excited about meeting Charlotte and her family. We were also asking the Lord to show us how we could best carry on the work He had begun through Amanda.
Over our 10 day tour, we experienced life in Ghana and met many nationals. We tasted fried plantain, Joliffe rice, Red Red, and Banku. We learned that International Needs Ghana is a multifaceted, Christ-centred organization that impacts the lives of the poor through child sponsorship, community development programs, job creation, evangelism, and discipleship.
We met women who were being trained to set up their own businesses, and many young girls training to become dress makers and cosmetologists. Some of the students practiced their skills on my husband and I, giving us a pedicure. They also gave me an African style hairdo complete with extensions and braids!
Meeting Charlotte and her family was a deeply moving experience. The whole community came to see us. I shared with them that our daughter Amanda was first to sponsor Charlotte, and God had taken her home to Heaven, three years earlier. I explained that when a parent loses a child and has another one, the new child is called a Rainbow Baby. I shared that as we had taken over Charlotte’s sponsorship, she was now our Rainbow Baby. I showed them photos of our family and pointed out who Amanda was. We truly felt their love and warmth as tears welled up and they expressed their sympathies to us.
The Lord truly opened our eyes to see many new things on our Discovery Tour.
We were so blessed to see the impact of International Needs’ many years of hard work, commitment, and perseverance.
We are so grateful to the Lord for opening a door for us to experience some of what Amanda experienced during her last summer on earth. We trust that God will continue to show us how we can best continue the work He began through Amanda, and partner with International Needs to help further God’s Kingdom.
- Sharon & John Kelsall