In both cases, a new name stood as an ongoing reminder – a marker – of God’s power to create new hope and new life.
The first story is about Saul of Tarsus.
After years of persecuting the church, God grabbed Saul’s attention by confronting him as a bright and blinding light on the road to Damascus. God sent Ananias to open Saul’s blinded eyes and to demonstrate God’s healing and saving power. Saul became a new man – a follower of Jesus.
Thereafter, he was known as Paul. A new name to point to a transformed heart.
The second story is of a young girl I met in Malawi.
As a young child, she answered to what I consider to be a heartbreaking name – Lonely.
I’m not sure if it was given to this sweet and timid girl at birth or if it was adopted over time, as a way of describing Lonely’s experience. I can’t think of why else she would have been called Lonely.
Loneliness breaks hearts and spirits. I actually think it kills some children. Slowly and painfully.
It would grieve my heart to think of Lonely living out her days with that name.
When Lonely survived a catastrophic fever at age 6 – against all odds – the nurses at the hospital said this blessed girl should be called Miracle.
And yet, her mother couldn’t bring herself to embrace her daughter’s new name. Though Miracle had survived death, she was left without the use of her arms or legs. She couldn’t even hold her head up, her neck muscles were so weak. Her mother would dig a trough in the dirt for her girl to sit in, so that her body and head would be supported.
For months, one of our community workers visited with Miracle and her mom – helping them through months of painstaking physiotherapy. Slowly, Miracle built back her strength. The day Miracle stood for the first time since her illness was the day her mother started using her daughter’s new name.
Lonely had finally and truly become Miracle for the rest of her life!
Hope and Healing International exists to spark transformation in the lives of children like Miracle. Physical transformation through healing. And, more importantly, heart transformation in the form of hope.
As we launch a new era with a new name, your re-commitment gift will tell the world that you’re with us. Together let’s spark hope in the hearts of every last child beaten down and wounded by misunderstanding and stigma.