I can still hear her screaming.

It was my eighteenth summer and my youth group and I were on a mission’s trip to the village of Nkwanta in Ghana. Our activities had included teaching Sunday School, attending night services, painting buildings, evangelism, and, that day, visiting a hospital. We were supposed to walk around singing, praying, just letting people know that they weren’t alone. One of our first stops was the room of an eight year old boy, horribly emaciated by hunger. I stopped by his bed and whispered a few words of prayer. Empathetic tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt really good about myself. Here I was, a veritable mini Mother Theresa, visiting the sick and crying beautifully. We were just finishing our rounds when I heard it, the piercing, screaming, shriek of grief resounding from the inner corridors. The shrieking continued as the boy’s mother followed his lifeless corpse out of the hospital. He was dead. And I was right there. I had stood over his bed holding the keys to life eternal in my hands and I had wept tears of “compassion” and said prayers of “comfort” but not one time had I ever said words that could have saved his life. And before I so much as left the hospital, he ran out of time. I can go back to Africa a hundred times, and I can tell a thousand children, but I can never tell that one.

Why am I telling you this? Because in Africa, over fifty percent of the population is under eighteen. That means that in Ghana alone, there are roughly 12,482,908 children living, and left to reach. Someone has to go. I am more than willing. Because they live in my home. Because they step into my heartbeat. Because I can still hear her screaming.

melindaMelinda Poitras

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