The Kingdom of God is a Party
One of my favorite books as a teenager was Tony Campolo’s The Kingdom of God is a Party. Dr. Campolo reminds us of biblical celebrations such as Old Testament Jubilee and the feast held by the Prodigal’s father upon his return. He asserts that Christians should embrace this celebratory attitude and thereby demonstrate Jesus’ love to those in need. With that in mind, we recently threw a very special birthday party for one of our patients.
Norfa, a seven-year-old girl from a remote village, was brought to our hospital in early August. I took one look at her and knew she needed immediate admission to an intensive care unit. We wasted no time in transferring her to the regional hospital. Her initial evaluation confirmed that her heart was failing and that her liver and spleen were markedly enlarged. Within a few days, despite treatment, Norfa could no longer breathe on her own, and she was placed on a ventilator. She remained on a ventilator for two weeks while the doctors at the regional hospital struggled to keep her alive and to determine her diagnosis. Then, miraculously, Norfa started to improve. Her heart and lungs began to function properly again, and the swelling of her liver and spleen began to decrease. Once she was stable, she was transferred back to our mission hospital for further recuperation. As we readmitted her, we learned that she was about to celebrate her eight birthday. Our hospital administrator immediately set to work planning a party.
On Norfa’s birthday, we gathered all of the hospital staff, our patients, and their mothers on the first floor of the hospital. We all sang to Norfa and laughed as she dug into the cake even as we sang. We watched as she opened a few small gifts, novelties for a little girl from a poverty-stricken Guatemalan village. We rejoiced that God had restored her and given her new life.
Since her birthday party, Norfa has continued to improve every day. Although her diagnosis remains a mystery, this much is clear: she is living proof of God’s healing power and a reminder that we have a lot to celebrate. As I reflect on her story, I am inspired to persevere in the work God has called His church to do: to invite the lost and needy and hurting into His Kingdom. It is a Kingdom marked by love, grace, and newness of life – a party I don’t want anyone to miss.
Praying over Norfa upon her arrival to Hope of Life
Some of Norfa’s party guests
Norfa enjoying her cake!
The Birthday Girl
- For Norfa as she continues to recover and for our medical team as we make decisions about her ongoing evaluation and treatment.
- For all of the children and families we serve to accept the invitation God has given through Christ.
- For our family as we seek new ways to share this invitation.