When Grace Got The Gift of Truth
Prologue: “The End”
Chapter 1: “The Man Who Questioned Grace”
Chapter 2: “Thanking the Man Who Raised Russians”
Chapter 3: “They call Him Madiba”
Chapter 4: “Finding the Lost One”
Chapter 5: “The Woman with a Hole and an Idea”
Epilogue: “The Beginning”
Prologue: “The End”
It was a bright sunny day, in Pakistan, when Grace, a young woman in her late twenties, had gone out on a Saturday to bring cookies to the local village children.She was a six month intern for international mission work and her first focus here was reaching the local village children. She would give each child two cookies if they sat and listened to the short bible story. This weekly rendezvous took place under a grass roofed-open wall shack. It was hot, but every child sat attentive as Grace spoke about an obedient man of God who built a boat and put two of every animal in and the man’s family. Grace was getting to the part where they were about to departure, when suddenly seven large muscular men came in wearing traditional Muslim attire. They screamed in words Grace didn’t understand, but the children did and she followed their actions. The men searched around the room and when they found the bible they tore into pieces. They asked who was responsible for the Christian teachings and Grace asked the translator who spoke Arabic and English to tell the man that she was responsible for it. Hesitating at first, the translator soon gave in to Grace’s wishes and the Islamic man motioned for her to come to him. She inhaled and exhaled as she walked over to where the man was standing. When Grace was close enough, she discovered that his breath smelled of rotten food and dead animals. Suddenly out of nowhere he struck her on her head with the butt of his gun and everything went black.
Chapter One: The Man Who Questioned Grace
Grace woke up to a large powerful voice, while sitting on a plump cushy chair. The massive room was decorated with color stain glass windows and the natural light gave the place a heavenly glow. There were about ten singers on stage singing a song that Grace also once used to sing. “Then sings my soul. My Savior God to Thee. How Great Thou Art. How Great Thou Art.” It made her reminiscent of older churches that still believed hymns were more God’s style than contemporary. After being lost in the singing, once it had ended Grace became aware of the large powerful voice again. She wondered where she had seen the man’s face before, noting to herself that he looked very familiar. He was grayer than what she had thought and just older seeming in all his mannerisms. He stood on a stool as he preached from the book of Matthew. Grace knew this church. It was her grandmother’s church, First Baptist of Litchfield. Grace soon began searching the content of the congregation, hoping she would see her Grandma. No sign. After looking, she realized why this man seemed so familiar and why she felt so drawn to him. This was the man who saved Grace’s life.
The year was 2007. Grace’s family had gone up during holiday break from Orlando to visit her maternal grandma. Typical they went to her Grandma Lowe’s church on Sunday. Grace was seven at the time which meant that she was finally able to listen to the sermon instead of going to Kidz Worship. Pastor Tim Schrader was speaking at the time and his sermon was “If You Died Today Where Would You Be Tomorrow?” . Throughout the forty-five minutes that question really stuck with her even though she was young. She thought to herself, “I love God and I don’t want to be without him forever. I want to go to heaven where God is and I don’t want to go Hell where he’s not.” Grace that day accepted God as her savior and because of just one person she received salvation and became a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
Fast forward five years to the year 2012. The special day took place in May on the twentieth. It was a Sunday. The water was cold, but Grace didn’t care. Today she would be baptized she told herself. After being saved and completing the new member’s class at her church, Grace was ready to take the next step. Baptism. She would share this day with her sister who also had chosen to be baptized. When Grace came in contact with the water, she felt different. She felt cleansed, redeemed, and pure. She knew the water had nothing to do with it. It was a God thing she said. She was never the same since that day.
After the service, Grace quickly drew into the crowd and began to make her way to where Pastor Tim Schrader was standing. But so many people were talking to him, she felt like she would never get a chance. She slumped down into one of the front pew and soon found herself in a deep sleep. Suddenly, she found herself being woken up by a large voice saying, “Grace, you awake?”.
Once she awoke, she opened her eyes to find Pastor Tim Schrader standing over her, examining her as a dentist might do towering over a patient’s mouth.
“Yeah, I’m awake,” she groggily replied. “Why am I here and Where am I?”
I’m the first person in your heaven. There are five significant people in your heaven that will each share a very important lesson relating to your life on Earth. Come on, my time’s limited and I’ve got a lot to show you.”
Still very confused, she slowly rose to her feet and followed the pastor outside. Suddenly they were elevated and being transported somewhere in midair. They soon stopped at various places in Grace’s life only to be quickly swept off again to another part of her life. Once they had reached the end of the “tour” Grace asked, “What was that for?”
“Well, obviously to show you your life and how you lived it.”
“I didn’t need to see my life. I’m the one who lived it,” she said very exasperated.
“Correct, but why did you live it that way?”
“I don’t know. I just-. What a minute? Now, I remember. I was about seven at the time and we had been visiting my Grandma and we went to church and you-.” She stopped mid-sentence, but the pastor finished what she had started.
“Yes, I preached the sermon that made you want to change your lifestyle.”
“You’re right. It was you. Before that I was just a pastor’s kid and it was just something you did. You were quiet. You were respectful. You believed in God. I mean I had always been believed in God, but until that moment and service I had never really chosen to follow him.”
“You and many others alike can be so close to finding meaning and you just need someone to plant the seed.”
“Wait! So are you saying that you’re the one ho ultimately brought me to heaven?”
“Kinda, he said with a sheepish grin, but it was also you. No one forced you to believe in God. You chose to do that on your own. Look what it’s done for you.”
“It’s done a lot for me. If I hadn’t had strong faith, I can’t imagine how I would’ve gotten through some obstacles in my life.”
“Exactly! There’s no way around the obstacles that are in life. Even when you thought that you had your life under control, you really didn’t. There’s no way around living without encountering the help of God.”
“Okay, so is that my lesson? That I can’t do anything without God. I think I already knew that.”
“I don’t think you did. My big picture is not only that avoiding God is impossible. What I’m here to tell you is that you can’t do anything alone. You weren’t made to carry the whole world on your shoulders. Even as a natural-people pleaser, there are times when you will fail others. And you know what? That’s okay. Because as humans we make mistakes. There is no such thing as perfect, only your personal best. Grace, do you feel like you gave your personal best on earth?”
“I mean, yeah, but at times I was just so down. I hated being at an inconvenience to people. I was always the compromiser, natural people-pleaser like you said. For the longest time, I just felt like that was all I was supposed to do. Just satisfy and make people happy. My family. My Friends. My Coworkers. Even Strangers. I felt that it never stopped. That I was always striving for what? To strive higher next time and I hated that. For once, I wish I could just speak up and scream, “Enough!!!!!! I want to live my real life instead of always trying to accommodate yours.””
“But that never happened,” he interrupted her. “That’s why I’m here. Even though your life on earth is over you deserve to know that you left a legacy on Earth. Your parents, friends, coworkers, and even strangers were all proud of you. Truth is they always were, from the beginning to the end.”
Grace realized that what he said was true. All her life she had been thinking that she had to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders to comfort other people, when really no one cared, if she messed up. They were proud of her anyway. All those years she had spent trying to get the best grades, do the most things, and be that person that everyone liked, were wasteful. She should have been living her life to the fullest. To HER fullest. She was never alone because she always had the people in her life and God.
She began to walk out of the church. Obliviously walking forward and feeling a new energy in herself that hadn’t been awakened for a long time, she walked out of the church. Walked out of Litchfield. Walked out of Illinois and she just kept walking. With every step, the scenery changed and soon she found herself walking in a foreign unknown place.
Chapter Two: Thanking the Man Who Raised Russians
She was walking through the streets of a busily crowded area. It was the evening and people seemed to be on their way home from work. As she scanned the surroundings and people, she saw tired, hungry, and sad faces. No smiles, no laughs. All was solemn as she walked on, mesmerized in this foreign land. Trying to talk to people was pointless. She realized this from the last two people she had met. It got darker and with the dark came fear. Grace figured she was in the poverty-stricken area and didn’t know what people would do for a few coins or a scrap of bread. She came to a very orthodox-looking church with a largely decorated steeple that held the time on a large grandfather clock. It was eight-fifty seven and Grace contemplated what to do. Would she go in and ask for help or would she continue on somewhere else? It was nine o’clock and the loud chiming of the clock tempted her to escape the obnoxious sound and go inside the church. She knocked at first, but surprisingly the door was unlocked. Slowly, she turned the handle and went in.
Today at Grace’s church, there is a guest speaker named Doug Morrow. After the sermon, there is a luncheon and he will be speaking about wise money spending and thinking ahead for the future. Throughout his talking, Grace realizes how much she’s consumed so much of her thinking about the future into financial independence, employment, etc. At one point in the talking, Doug Morrow mentions a woman by the name of Lottie Moon who lived about a century and a half ago. Grace recognizes the name and finds out that Lottie Moon was a wealthy American woman who went to China as a missionary and after years of service died because she literally gave all her food away. This really gets Grace and she asks herself “what’s the point in being a veterinarian when all I’m doing is saving animals that don’t really need saving?”.
After the luncheon, Grace drives home with her dad and she tells him that she might like to be an overseas missionary, but really still wants to be a veterinarian. Her dad tells her that both of those things are possible and that working as a veterinarian and missionary in a foreign area is a great idea. Grace that evening while climbing into bed prays for guidance on what she should do with her life. God doesn’t answer immediately, but when he does, Grace knows that her future has changed completely. Ever since that moment Grace had felt spiritually burdened with going out into the mission field and spreading the gospel to people who otherwise might not ever have the chance to hear it.
Inside, she saw a middle-aged couple with a happy glow that only newly made parents have. Inside the woman’s arms were two small babies. One wrapped in pink cloths, the other wrapped in blue cloths. Beside them was a stiff lady who communicated with the couple in a language Grace did not understand, but recognized. It was Russian. She was in Russia?!
“Isn’t it beautiful?” the man said to Grace
“Russia. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yeah,” Grace began to say. “I mean excluding the poverty, political controversies, and war-stricken areas, I’d say it’s pretty nice.”
“Funny,” he said. “You’re funny. There’s a lot more to Russia than you think. Yes, the country is very poor, but inside its poverty-stricken state are many opportunities.”
“Opportunities for what? To pick up trash and get a few hours of community service?!”
“Yes, but no. The real opportunities of Russia and many other countries lie in the people. The needs of the people that are hurting. Hungry. Cold. Alone. All of those people have needs. I mean, isn’t that why you chose to become an overseas missionary.”
“Hey, Grace spoke with a hint of suspicion, how did you know that?”
“If you do recall, I’m the one that made you become a missionary. The name is Doug. Doug Morrow.”
“It is you,” Grace said in shock. “Wow! I didn’t recognize you. You look so much younger!”
He laughed and said, “Well, I am much younger here. Here at my heaven was 20 years before you first saw me.”
“Speaking of your heaven, what is this place? I know it’s a church, but why are you in Russia?”
This is where my life changed. My turning point. My climax, if you allow me to say. I had started out as a financial adviser and I was a very wealthy, married man. Life was good and Life was easy. I was happy as could be.My wife and I hadn’t been able to have children and she wanted to adopt. At the time, when she hinted this idea I wasn’t really in the mood for snotty-nose kids, but to make her happy, I said okay.
Grace continued to listen.
“There were kids in China, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and more places. The place that really stuck out for my wife was Russia. Okay I said. So after all the paperwork was completed we flew to Russia where we received twins. A boy and girl infants who had been placed into the church's orphanage after the mother had been discovered to have a drug problem. Until that moment, when I held them and saw their innocent faces, I had never been humbled so much as by them. I realized that I didn’t care if I was poor, I wanted to help people. Help people like my children and others of all backgrounds. So that’s why I set out on my new career path as a godly financial adviser where I would ask people what God wanted them to do with their money and if they were living their lives God wanted them to.”
“I remember that. You came to my church one Sunday and spoke to us. I don’t know how it happened, but I just really felt that I was supposed to be more than a biologist or veterinarian.”
“Grace, what I’m here to tell you is that you can’t spend your life worrying where the next paycheck is going to come from. Sometimes you just have to leave that comfort zone and get risky. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know where the next blanket for the winter is coming from. What you need to realize in life that you need to prioritize your life. What can you live with and what can you live without? What I’ve realized and what I hope after hearing me speak you realize is that materialistic items will not stop your desire for stuff, they will only increase it. After going into a third world country and seeing life there and adopting two children from there, I was inspired to adopt two more. I hope that you were able to realize what matters in life. Sometimes it’s more about the sacrifice, than it is about the gain. Don’t just live a meaningful life for yourself, but for others also.”
“ You’re right and thank you so much.” Grace questioned herself and wondered if she had been living a life for others. Before she could ask, Doug was walking away.
Doug went back over to his wife and children and as he walked away Grace got farther away, not just from him, but from the whole church. Soon she found herself moving backwards on the street and soon moving backwards out of Russia into a dark cold place where she lost consciousness and vision.
Chapter Three: They Call Him Madiba
The cold dark room smelled of musty, worn out clothes and small dead rodents. There was fear building up in Grace’s chest as she slowly rose to her feet, trying to make out the contour of the room. She put her hands out almost as if she was blindfolded and playing follow the leader. In this dark place, she lost her use of vision and relied solely on her other senses. Her hands after groping around in the dark soon came in contact with cold stone walls. She could hear the soft drip drop of water to her left. Obviously, wherever this was, it had a leak. Trying to progress forward, she stumbled over the uneven floor. She came face down and when she hit the bottom she said to herself, “Well, this definitely isn’t a carpeted room.” Her lightly humored comment didn’t cheer her up as she thought it would. It only made it worse and soon with the blood trickling down her nose, her tears were also added into the mix. Between sobs, she cried and screamed aloud, “ Where am I ?” Instantly, a familiar voice responded in a calm, soothing, yet saddening way. The voice was foreign to most people, but Grace knew the origin of the speaker, She just didn’t know who the speaker was.
“Welcome to my prison cell,”he said.
Grace since moving to the United States had seen the change in African-Americans and Africans. She often felt even as a fifth grader and on in her education that she was belittled by her classmates because they judged her not by who she was, but by an African-American set of stereotypes, even though she was not one. When her peers would finally get to know her, they would always say how smart she was. But Grace never saw herself as that smart and soon she realized that she was just as smart the honors kid sitting behind her. Soon she realized that because she was black and breaking away from that stereotypical american-black standard, people thought of her as quite intelligent even though she was just as smart, maybe even less smart than that person sitting next to her. For a long time, she was ashamed because she didn’t fit in with African-Americans or whites quite exactly in America, and she often felt that she was stuck in the middle of nowhere. For a long time, she was ashamed of her heritage and where she was from, until eighth grade.
Grace was in eighth grade English class when her class had been given a quotes project. They were to choose a meaningful and powerful quote and explain what it meant and how it connected to their lives. Grace already knew who she was going to do. Nelson Mandela. Her role-model. Her hero. She would use one of her favorite quotes by him that said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
To Grace, Nelson Mandela wasn’t some quote project. He was a living, breathing example of what all humans should be like. He had been the President of South Africa for a number of years and had helped to free the country of Apartheid. He had been in jail for almost twenty-seven years, but he never stopped fighting. Because of this man Grace got to have the life she lived. If it hadn’t been for him she would have never been adopted by her family or received the same education and benefits as other students of a different race. Grace basically owed her life to this man and he was not just a few sentences in a piece of paper. He was part of her life story. When Grace got her paper back, she felt proud of her heritage and President. She felt proud to be a black South African because of Mandela. She said to herself as she put her paper away, “Thank you, Madiba.
Grace shook her head, as if she could erase what the man had just spoken.
“Prison cell?!” she asked. “When did I ever deserve to go to prison? I’m not saying I was a perfect person, but definitely not deserving of a jail cell.”
“Lots of people don’t deserve to go to prison, the man said, but they do anyway”.
“Oh and I assume that you weren’t suppose to go to prison and that they really just put the wrong person in?” Grace said quite dryly and sarcastically.
“Indeed,” he responded, very serious. “I was punished for the crimes I did not do because I was not regarded as an equal to others. I stood up for what I believed in and I spent twenty-seven years of my life in this cell fighting for equality and fair opportunity. I had become so much of a role-model that people chose me as their nation’s leader when I had been released.”
Grace wanted to see who this man was, she was very curious and tried to in the midnight darkness get a look at his face. Instantly as if someone had seen her curiosity from above, a wave of light came into the room. A room that had no windows or lights. As it gradually became lighter in the mysterious cell, the man said, “I am Mandela”.
“It is Madiba,” Grace said in complete awe.
“Yes, it is me.”
“Wow!” Grace said beginning to speak very quickly. “This is such an honor to meet the greatest South African president. You are amazing. You’re a living breathing example of what all humans should be. You’re an extremely powerful person.”
“Yes, but I wasn’t always. The elderly gentleman said. I wasn’t always treated with the same respect that I have today. For twenty-seven years of my life, I was in prison because I was fighting for something that I already earned.”
“Robben Island, that’s the jail you were in. Right?”
“Yes, 27 years. I never got to watch my children grow. Hold their hands or kiss my wife. I was alone fighting for a lost cause.”
“But then you were released from prison. And you ran for President and won. You led our country to win the Rugby match that one year. You gathered africans and Afrikaners together and made them see one race.”
“Yes, the human race. The only race that matters. The only race that exists. Grace, from heaven here I saw you live your life and always feel that you had to strive for something big. Once your family moved to America, you didn’t like the stereotypes that were present with African Americans and so you sought individuality and to become your person. You strove to be in the highest classes, do the most extracurricular activities, and to work for what you wanted.All for what?”
“To prove that I was possible of doing those things,” she said defensively. “To show that I wasn’t a stereotypical African-American, but a hard-working and intelligent African. I was so tired of being compared to them. I just felt that I deserved to be treated as a person, instead of an American black, which I’m not.”
“You deserve to be treated as a person. That’s right. But you didn’t have to prove that to anyone. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone because of the color of your skin. Don’t let people judge you by your pigment. Don’t let them belittle you on a false presumption. Stand up for your rights not as an African or African-American, but as a person. It’s okay to be proud of your heritage
and skin color but the moment that people start to say it’s no okay remember what I once said, ‘To deny people their human rights, is to challenge their very humanity’.”
“Yes.” Grace said in awe at the power held in the former president’s voice. “I will remember that”.
She wanted to hug this man, in a long embrace that truly said “Thank You for all that you’ve done”. But as she made her way over to where he was standing, suddenly he disappeared. But she held onto his words and mouthed a few simple words of appreciation, “Thank You, Madiba.”
Suddenly the jail cell door was opened very aggressively, knocking Grace off her feet leading her into a sudden sleep and deep unconscious.
Chapter Four: Finding the Lost One
She woke up in a pile of large debris that had collected from a falling tower. Turning to her left she saw a macabre scene with thousands of fleeting and screaming people. There were countless others left on the ground, motionless and smoke was pervading the air. Turning to her right, she saw the same thing. Barely breathing because of the pungent aroma she got up and tried to escape from whatever was terrorizing the others. As she made it to the street, she saw firemen and police officers, pointing and running, trying to save those who had fallen under the rubble. Many were taken off in ambulances and received medical treatment. Yet many were also kept on the ground, covered with a large like trash bag. Grace was getting scared because she had never been in such chaos and the low, deep rumbling was giving her a headache. All was sunny until a plane hovered over the area in which she was standing. It headed for the one tower still standing and crashed into it. Once again debris began to fall and smoke began to form. Grace realized that this was not the first plane that had struck today. The first one had come minutes earlier. Grace soon began to put together the pieces. Finally, it all came to her. “It couldn’t be,” she told herself. “Could it be?” She went up to a police officer and tried to ask him what day it was. He was unresponsive, almost as if he hadn’t heard. She tried a few more times and soon gave up. The man was recording something on his notepad and Grace was able to glance at the date. The day was September 11th, 2001.
It was Tuesday night cell group at the Ingram’s house in Pretoria, South Africa. It was about seven pm and usually members of the group came over with smiles on their faces, but tonight was different. Everyone seemed to have a sad and solemn demeanor. People had seen the footage of the attack on America in New York City and feared that their family and friends overseas were in danger. Grace would be four in twelve days and even though she was quite young, she remembered seeing the worry in everyone’s eyes. Even her parents who never seemed to display any sign of worry or concern acted differently...
It was about two years before they knew that they’d be moving to America. Even before they knew, Grace’s parents were still planning on adopting her foster brother Daniel, who was three years older than her. For about two weeks, her parents were constantly arguing on the phone with government officials and state’s people. Grace would eventually find out that the reason Daniel couldn’t come with them to America .They told her that when he turned eighteen they would try to get him over to the states, but until then Daniel would stay in a boarding school and be watched over frequently by some family friends in a nearby village...
It was the summer of 2013.They had been living in America for six and a half years. Daniel would be turning eighteen next summer. Grace remembered what her parents had said about trying to get him over to the United States when he turned eighteen. But she feels that they’ve forgotten about him. She hasn’t. She keeps a picture of every single person in her immediate family and she includes the most updated picture of Daniel on her wall. She prays for him occasionally when she goes to bed, but always on his birthday and 9/11. Today she has made a scrapbook of her family and she dedicated a whole page to Daniel. Later that night, she wonders will she ever see him again. She promised herself that one day she’d go back and find the lost member of her family....
She couldn’t believe it. Why was she here? What was happening? Where was she? Grace was feeling dizzy so she went over about 1/2 a block and sat down on the curb. There was a young dark man also sitting on the curb with a piece of paper. She glanced over and saw that it was a picture of a family. Two Caucasian parents and three Caucasian children, but there were also three dark children in the picture. Grace soon received a chill of nostalgia, but shrugged it off as coincidence. It couldn’t be she told herself.
“Oh but it is,” the young man said. It was almost as if he heard her thoughts.
Grace cautious, slowly asked, “Do I know you from somewhere?”
“You don’t remember do you?” The young man asked , tilting his head up. It was like magic and the young man suddenly transformed into a young boy about ten or eleven years old.
Grace watched the transformation take place and then, softly said, “Daniel”.
“Yep, it’s me.”
Grace couldn’t believe it. She had so many questions swarming in her head. How was this happening and how was this possible? The other places she had visited made since. Why was she her-
Daniel interrupted her thoughts and began to speak,”You’ll reach your heaven eventually, but for now you’ve got me and one other person to meet before you get to your heaven. Two more lessons and you’ll be free of your burdens”
Free?Free of what? Grace was still extremely confused, but his soft accented voice calmed her down. She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had heard his voice. Grace tried to act nonchalant, but Daniel saw right through it.
“It’s okay,” he said. “You can cry. Go ahead.”
Suddenly Grace burst into tears and between sobs she began pouring out everything she had wanted to tell him and began to ask questions about what had happened and why he didn’t come back.
“I missed you so much-sniff sniff-I really thought that you were going to come back-sniff sniff-and then-sniff sniff-i don’t know what happened. You’re eighteenth birthday passed and you never came. Then your nineteenth and then your twentieth, but you still never came.”
Daniel slowly walked up to his sister and hugged her. Daniel began to speak very soothingly to his sister saying that he had never left and that he was always there. And that sometimes things happen that just can’t be fix-
Grace interrupted and asked, “But why couldn’t you come with us. Sarah and I got to come to America why didn’t you.”
“You were so young, you didn’t understand all that was happening. After September 11th, 2001, South Africa closed off adoptions with the United States. I hadn’t been adopted yet. Mom and dad were only foster parents to me when the attack happened. They fought for me, but in the end they couldn’t stay and I couldn’t go.”
Grace began again crying and talking to her brother saying, “I never forgot about you and I always prayed for you and hoped that one day you would come or that we would return.”
She told him about the scrapbook she had made with Sarah in the summer of 2013 and how she had dedicated a whole page to him.He then, also in tears, told her that when he turned eighteen that he had made a plan to go to America, but the agency would not let him go because he had no records of medical vaccinations and did not have a green card or temporary citizenship.
“You were gone forever and you had no one. Weren’t you mad that we had left you?”
“I wasn’t gone forever, he responded, and I did have someone. Multiple someones, actually. I was sad, but I was never mad.”
“Who did you have?”
“I had the memories, the knowledge and love of so many years. I never forgot about you or mom or dad or Caleb or Bethany or Joel or Sarah. You guys never left me. the Memory and love of family is an unbreakable and eternal bond.”
Grace realized that what he said was true. She had never forgotten about him and her love for him and memory of him had kept her going. He had always been there.
“Why are we here?” she asked.
“This is my heaven.”
“The site of 9/11 is your heaven?” Grace asked in bewilderment. “Why?”
“I wanted to go back to the place where my life drastically changed. When people think of 9/11 they think of family and friends they lost from the attack, but on that day, thousands of miles away, our family was affected by the attack. We physically lost each other, but we had each other in our minds. The terrorists separated our family geographically, but they never separated us mentally and in our hearts. No matter how big the fighting force is, family sticks together through it all.”
When she opened her eyes, she was hugging air and soon found herself in a bittersweet moment. She had found the brother that she’d never lost, but had lost him once again. Suddenly, a forceful impact of air suddenly came swooping Grace off her feet and making her lose conscious.
Chapter Five : The Woman with a Hole and an Idea
She found herself on the outskirts of a medium sized building. It was dark, but she saw a figure open up a box and slowly put what looked to be a baby cradled in cloths into the box. The woman quickly scurried away and instantly the baby began to cry. After about thirty seconds, it began to whale and after about a minute; it seemed that some type of sensor had gone off. Soon there was a lady who carried the young child inside and once she had disappeared from Grace’s vision, Grace went over to the side of the building where the woman had dropped off the baby. She was curious on what the box looked like and when she came up around, her legs soon became weak and feeble and feeling faint she collapsed. On the top of the building were the words Berea Baptist Mission and next to the box were the words Door Of Hope Children’s Mission.
Back when the Ingrams still lived in Orlando, Grace had gone to a summer mission camp called M-Fuge in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the second night and at the massive evening worship program, they had shown an International Mission Board (IMB) video about an orphanage in South Africa. It was the Door Of Hope. Grace having realized that this was the orphanage in which she came from (actually, the first baby ever to be adopted from it), told her youth pastor. Not expecting anything to happen, word got around about Grace and the next day the leaders of the camp had her come on stage in front of the 900 students and staff and talk about herself and where she was from. They had the original founder of M-Fuge come in and Grace got to meet him. Grace later found out that the week she went to camp and shared her story, that was the largest camp attendance they had ever had during one week and that people were so inspired how missions was working that the missions offering doubled what it usually was.
Fast Forward to March of 2012. The Ingrams were no longer living in Orlando, but in the Chicagoland area. Recently some workers from LifeWay, a Christian store and organization that headed M-Fuge, CentriFuge, World Changers, and other Christian youth camps, came to Grace’s family to do a follow up video on her family. That video reached even more people than when she spoke and over 100,000 students and staffs saw it the following summer.
After going to camps and doing various mission projects, Grace realized that being adopted wasn’t a burden, but an opportunity to share her testimony and why she believed in God, when people asked her about her family.
Grace found herself surrounded in a room with baby cribs, changing stations, and storage shelves. Trying to lift up her head, she soon went back down from the pain in her neck that still restrained her from much motion. She was able to move her eyes and found that she had been placed on a fairly-sized wooden mat. Have I seen this place before? Why does it look so familiar?
Suddenly, a woman who appeared to be in her late 40s, early 50s said, “Yes, it should seem familiar. I’m surprised that you’ve forgotten about this place.”
“What place? Where am I?”
“Well, you’re at the Door Of Hope,”the woman said matter-of-factly. I’m Cheryl Allen and I started this orphanage. You were the first baby to ever be adopted out of here. I held you as an infant even”
“What! Why am I hear?” Grace began to move but still felt the restraint from the pain she had experienced at Daniel’s heaven. “What kind of heaven is this?!” she yelled. “Who would want to be here?!”
The woman came closer and knelt by Grace’s side responding, “I do. I chose this as my heaven.”
“Why am I here? Grace moaned. “Whyyyy?”
“Because I’m the last person with your fifth lesson. Grace I saw your life and you were so curious about who you were and where you came from. You felt empty because there were questions other people would be able to answer about themselves, but for you never. You spent your whole life asking Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.”
Grace began to speak saying, “All I wanted was to know. I felt empty. Everyone else knew who they got their eyes or smile from. Everyone else knew what time they were born at. Everyone else, but me. I spent my whole life searching for the answers and wondering what happened. Did I have siblings? Were my parents even married? Did they even try to keep me? What was wrong with me? I barely knew anything!”
“But Grace, those things didn’t matter. It would have been nice to know, but they didn’t matter. You lost two very important people in your life, but gained seven more. You had everything you needed; the love of a family, opportunities to learn and grow, excellent health, and so much more.”
Grace agreed with what Cheryl Allen said and continued to listen.
“Grace, do you know why I started the Door of Hope?”
“I mean, yeah I guess. You wanted to give kids a home, right?”
“Not only a home, but a chance at life. You have no idea what it’s like going to put your trash in the dumpster and finding a small child lying motionless there surrounded by flies. Everywhere. They were everywhere. In dumpsters. Trash cans. These innocent children brought into the world for a purpose, only to be thrown away as garbage. I started the Door Of Hope so that women who were going to give up their children, could do so anonymously, and at least give that child a chance. Since 1999 and since you were adopted, over 1,000 babies have been saved. Grace, sometimes in life you have to realize that you don’t know everything and that you have to just be thankful for what you do have. Life. Because a lot of other people haven’t been able to experience that. A lot of people haven’t been regarded as worthy when they are. No matter what the circumstances, all life has value and worth. We’ve all been created for many purposes and reasons. No matter big or small, we all deserve a chance to live. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how much we have.”
Grace having been listening very attentively was in tears at the end. She realized all this time she had been searching for something that didn’t matter. She had felt incomplete and empty because she had been oblivious to what she did have. She began to feel very guilty because she had always wanted to know more about her biological family, but did she even ever once on her lifetime on earth ever really thank her adoptive family? She realized she had been provided with everything that she needed and that she was never at a loss. It was almost as if God had lifted her burdens and made her free just like Daniel said because at that very moment she felt like a completely different person. All those years of bitterness and self-pity were gone. She now felt relief and felt satisfied. Grace had received what she had really needed all along. Not factual knowledge or materialistic items, but the gift of truth. Finally all those questions got answers.
Epilogue: The Beginning”
Suddenly she was off again in a white cloud of nothing. She floated as an astronaut might do in space and wondered what happened next. She had met all five people and had learned all five lessons. Where would her heaven be? Soon she came to an abrupt spot and found herself in front of large golden doors with about a seven foot gate. She turned one of the knobs and went in, not knowing what to expect. Inside, she began to see flashing images of her life. She saw her birthdays, her first days of school, holidays, and lots more. There was one image that was very blurry and when she got closer to touch it she found herself being talked to.
“Grace, Grace! Wake up!!!”
“Whoah! How long have I been out?!”
“About an hour. Are you all right?”
“It feels like I’ve been out for a lifetime. Yeah, I’m fine. What happened?”
“What do you mean what happened?! We were attacked and raided by the Taliban! Don’t you remember how you admitted that it was you teaching the bible to the kids. Why did you do that? You could have gotten yourself killed?”
Grace shrugged it off as if these latest events to happen were nothing. She said to herself, “That’s fine because I’ve lived my life to the fullest. I could die now with complete content and satisfaction. No regrets. No fears. No What Ifs.”
“Are you crazy? Are you thinking straight? What happened to you? It’s like you’ve been risen from the dead.”
“Closure, she responded, Knowing the truth and moving on. That’s what happened to me. I had been dead a long time, but now I’ve finally found the meaning to life again.”
The translator rolled his eyes and said very caustically, “Okay. Anyway, Lazarus the children are all fine and have returned to their homes. Right now, I’m taking you to the doctor because I think that blow to your head affected you more than you think it did.”
Grace knew that the hit had affected her more than physical pain. In those ten minutes, Grace Got the Gift of Truth. There was no need for a doctor. What Grace needed and wanted to do at that moment was to spill out the truth. The truth of life. The hidden truth that so many people needed. She realized that this was a dangerous ambition, but other people needed to feel the relief, truth, honesty, and closure that heaven had brought her. Never had she been so more thankful to God than at this moment. She was blind and now she could see. She was lame and now she could walk. She was wretched but now she was saved. She was ready and okay with dying for what she believed in. The thought of being a martyr didn’t scare her. She wanted to leave this earth, leaving a legacy. She didn’t want to regret not ever doing something. She wanted to have a fun life, but she wanted to have a deep life. She had spent much of her life trying to receive, but now it was time to give back. Give back the blessings that had been given to her...
Three years later, Grace was a full time missionary in her home land. South Africa. Today was a very important day. Not only would her life be changed, so would someone else’s. She had been driving for about an hour and forty-five minutes when she reached a medium sized building with the words Berea Baptist Mission. On the front wall was a hole that next to it said Door Of Hope Children’s Mission. Grace stopped the car and went inside. Inside was a woman by the name of Cheryl Allen who held a small baby about four months old. The woman immediately gave the baby to Grace and said, What do you think you’ll name him?”
Grace without any hesitation said, “I think I’ll name him Daniel.”