My name is Olivia, and I am a member of the Northern Virginia Church of Christ. It is truly an honor to write about the way HOPE worldwide Panama impacted my family.
In October of 2015, I received a call, "Your dad is not taking his medication. His mental health has declined to the point that he was found in the streets of Panama and had to be admitted." I had traveled to Panama over and over, seeking for help. Unfortunately, my prior efforts only led to dead ends, so this news was devastating.
Not knowing what else to do in a desperate cry for help, I asked for prayers from my brothers and sisters. Although my hope was lost, I trusted that others would hope for me. That's exactly what happened. Others hoped and prayed and God answered all their prayers.
After much searching, we found a place that would institutionalize my dad, keep him safe and help his mental state.
I was so happy, but what happened next is something I didn't expect.
Hector Madrigada, evangelist of our sister church in Panama, wrote and asked what the church could do to help. I was hesitant, but after much persuasion by my husband I said, “His home may need to be cleaned.”
I had seen my father’s house a few months prior to this incident and it was bad. He had being collecting all kind of stuff, including trash.
Hector said, “Okay,” and went to see the house. I asked for pictures but he said that I should wait until they do some work. He didn't think it would be good for me to see it yet.
He later wrote me that he contacted the HOPE worldwide Panama team and they came up with a plan to clean, fumigate, wash and paint my father’s house.
When I saw the plan I could only imagine the condition.
Two weeks later, Hector and the disciples from the International Church of Christ in Panama cleaned my dad’s house. They worked two Saturdays from morning to evening. They cleaned, fumigated, and washed the walls and the floor. They were unable to paint, but what they did was more than I could have asked or imagined.
Hector finally sent some pictures but they were all after the work had begun. Then he asked if I was ready to see the "before" pictures. As I scrolled down the screen I burst into tears, but I actually began crying when I saw the picture of the church family in the blue t-shirts.
After all the traveling I had done to Panama, God didn't need me there to fix the problem, he sent HOPE worldwide!
A new hope
You can only imagine the impact this had on my biological family. They said, "Whatever you write, make sure you say we are so thankful."
My father’s neighbors were in awe. They wondered, “Who are these people doing this for a man who could never repay them?” The Panamanian disciples replied, "We know Olivia. She is our sister in Christ who lives in the U.S."
The home I grew up had a legacy, one of suffering and pain due to my dad’s mental health problems, but today it has a new legacy: "In this world there is hope."
The power of love
No matter what my dad has done I still love him. I know God loves him too, even though I started to doubt that as my dad declined. Only God knows how this story will end.
My dad is now safe in a facility, receiving his medication, and his mental health is improving. However, when I visited him he was worried about the house. It felt good to say don't worry, the house is taken care of.
When I called Hector to say thank you, he said two things that touched my heart more than he will ever know:
"Olivia, we do this because we are disciples of Jesus, and remember, God works for the good of those who love him."
I have been a disciple for almost 20 years and have given to HOPE worldwide. I just never imagined that one day HOPE worldwide would serve my family.
Sometimes I’ve struggled in serving the poor or giving to the poor. Today I have a deeper conviction about giving to the poor and needy, because of the example of HOPE worldwide in Panama. They truly lived Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ..."