God's Brave Women - Bekah's Story
When I hear the word bravery, I immediately think of people in our military, those fighting life-threatening illnesses, or even the idea of bungee jumping. This is not the kind of brave I would consider myself or my story. God led me to a place where I could either choose to be obedient or ignore His call. I knew that He was the One calling me, therefore, stepping into what He had for me was the easiest decision. On the outside, I am sure to others it looked like I had lost my mind, but my confidence in the Father far outweighed any of my doubts.
I was 23 years old when I finished my senior year of college studying abroad in Ecuador. Shortly after graduation, I accepted my first teaching job at a high school in Kentucky where I was living. I had a room full of sweet children with various mental and physical impairments. I couldn’t wait to celebrate small successes and love on these kiddos. Throughout the school year, I would lie awake at night, having dreams about children much like the ones in my classroom. But these kids in my dreams were laying on a floor, in a dark room, with no one to hold them. I remember a still, small, voice asking me to pray for them. After the fifth time having this dream, I decided to google search “special needs orphanages in Ecuador”. During my middle of the night research party, I began to learn some sad truths. Less than 1% of people with disabilities in Ecuador receive any type of therapy, schooling, or government assistance. Most of these children are abandoned, abused or neglected and are actually prohibited from enrolling in public schools. My heart was completely broken… I decided to be a summer volunteer at the first orphanage my google search revealed. This house had over 80 children upon my arrival, deep in the heart of the Amazonian jungle. This specific orphanage took in abandoned children with special needs from different tribes in the Pastaza region.
The very first time I walked into the room where the children with the most severe disabilities slept, I was blown away. It was the room from my dream! In that moment I felt God leading me to stay for a longer amount of time. The children with special needs didn’t have anyone intentionally working with them beyond daily basic care. The caregivers were indigenous women, many with a background belief that children with physical and mental impairments were cursed. I knew the Lord chose me to show these women how to love these children well, and He wanted me to stay for more than a summer. He wanted me to commit to the full year.
Throughout my time in the Amazon I was given everything I needed. God gave me patience while dealing with severely abused children, compassion while holding children with malformations and endurance to make it through long days of hospital visits for our terminally ill. He helped me change diapers and receive healthcare when exposed to scabies and parasites. He provided counseling in seasons of extreme loneliness and covered all my finances. His mercy healed my broken heart when the adoption I was pursuing fell through. And His grace helped me trust Him when four sweet babies I cared for daily passed away.
It was through this last circumstance that I believe God challenged me the most. I think of the sweet angels I cared for routinely, in the morning hours. Dolly was born with half her brain and advanced atrophy from lack of physical therapy. Julianna had a rare seizure disorder that left her experiencing over 600 seizures daily. Rayana and Linet were sisters born with a rare genetic brain disorder, leaving them blind, lame, and mute. They often had pneumonia from poor positioning in their cribs. I put in place a regiment of daily stimulation massages on their arms and feet, bringing them outside in the fresh air propped up with pillows, and playing a variety of music from my phone. I wish I had the words to describe what it was like holding each of these girls, listening to them laugh as the wind brushed their face. It never failed. When I would play music the girls would smile and laugh. God even gave them joy in the midst of their suffering.
"As overlooked as they may have been to this world, Dolly, Julianna, Rayana and Linet were image bearers of their Heavenly Father."
These amazing girls had no parents to cuddle them close, kiss them on their cheeks, and just sing over them that they were loved. I asked God to help me fill that role as much as possible. I felt quite vulnerable because it postured my heart in a way that left it deeply broken for these girls. There were weekly hospital visits for Dolly and Rayana until my departure. It felt as though God was leading me straight into heartbreak. Yet, just like God stepped in to repeatedly provide me with what I needed in uncertain times, He was going before these girls, giving them the strength and courage to face a new day. As overlooked as they may have been to this world, Dolly, Julianna, Rayana and Linet were image bearers of their Heavenly Father, who in my book, made an impact for the kingdom to all who knew them.
"...we can all put that first courageous step forward as God’s Daughters because we know He is in us, and He will never fail us if He has called us to it."
I believe we all have these moments where we can either cower in fear or step into gracefully because we know our God is with us. I love the verse, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) I believe as women we have so many unique opportunities to exercise this part of our faith. Whether it’s stepping into a scary financial season, a challenging aspect in our job, having babies (literally the act itself!), or pursing a dream… we can all put that first courageous step forward as God’s Daughters because we know He is in us, and He will never fail us if He has called us to it. I know it’s a cliché women’s verse, but it’s also one of the best: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25) What an amazing posture we are able to adopt as women. We can boldly look the unknown in the eye and laugh because our mighty Creator is on our side.
Bekah Beresford is 28 years old and the proud wife of Montana. She still cannot believe she gets to be the mom of her beautiful nine-month old son, Cannon. They recently moved from Seattle to Orlando, where she is currently taking a break from her career as a Special Education Teacher to stay at home with her son. *SAHM's shout out* Her other loves are camping, being outdoors, coffee, girl time (in whatever way she can!), inclusion for people with special needs, and international orphan care. If any of these things interest you or you just want a gal pal to chat with, she would love to be that gal! For anyone in the Orlando, Florida area, Bekah will be speaking at the Global Impact Conference October 26-27. More info can be found at https://www.ovinternational.org/ovi-conference/ You can contact Bekah directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.