Friday, December 22, 2000

An Empty Bed

The Death of Little Stephen

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God Acts 7:55

Last year during our visit to the children in the ward at Burturlinovka, the team leader took moving video footage later used for a film geared toward churches explaining the orphanage outreach of East West Ministries.

One of the last images on the video is team member Vicki Mullins holding what appears to be a child of 3 or 4. We later learned that the boy, Stephen, was in fact 10 years old, his size affected by severe malnutrition.

Of course this year when we returned to visit the children in the ward Vicki was searching for Stephen. Longing for a chance to hold the face she had seen so many times on the video, and whose heart and soul she had never forgotten.

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

Her desire would go unmet. Stephen went home to be with our Lord in August. And though there were tears shed for his passing, there was also a great joy in knowing he has gone to the house the Lord prepared and into the loving arms of his heavenly Father.

On our last day at Burturlinovka, I went back to say goodbye again to the children. My interpreter Katya, followed to translate the smiles. As we were waving goodbye on our way out, one of the children clearly spoke out to us. I asked her what he said. She told me his words, “See you next year.”

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 1 Thessalonians 2:1