I was not going to include this post, as this particular incident that took place during the conference did not make sense to me until after we had our daughter with Down syndrome, and not until after I was done grieving over her diagnosis. I convinced myself the dream I had about Nichole having Down syndrome was no more than a hormonal incidence and a bad dream. You will read we attended a service where people prayed over Nichole’s heart and the fluid to be gone. I felt great peace, and I took that also as a sign that Nichole did not have Down syndrome, because surely healthy meant normal.
Shaken from my dream, we attended a special meeting during our time at the conference. It was a service dedicated to pray for people with health issues or other physical needs. We asked others to pray for our baby’s heart, and I secretly prayed that my baby did not have Down syndrome as I was not willing to say those words out loud. While we prayed, I felt peace and knew the fluid around my baby’s heart was gone.
I don’t make mistakes. God whispered to me. I don’t make mistakes.
The next morning I sat at the edge of my seat in the large arena. Of all the sessions we had attended during the conference – including the one from the night before – this was the event I had been looking forward to. The black stage at the center stood high, shining lights with hues of red, blue, yellow and white. Music played softly. The president of the Missionary Alliance Church invited the international workers to come forward, and begin the “Parade of the Nations.”
From around the arena, men, women, and children began to walk around the stage and through the aisles. They gracefully held on to the flags that represented the countries they had come to call their home, and they wore clothes that identified them with those nations. Dozens and dozens of flags and people marched around amongst the rest of us. Such a large arena. So many aisles. It seemed dozens were not enough. Yet, it was humbling to see the people who had given their lives and followed the call to go to the ends of the world.
The music stopped and so did the workers. Then Gary Benedict, from the stage, teased, “Come on, that was unimpressive! Let’s see a real parade!”
The flags, along with the music, continued to move. Mexico, Brazil, China, Ukraine, Uganda. Country after country walked by. Retired missionaries, new missionaries, those waiting to go; all of them taking up their flags. More dozens, then a hundred, two hundred. Families marching around with their small children and babies in their arms. More and more international workers joining the parade. The arena, large and airy, was full. There were no open spaces, only people, only flags.
I was overwhelmed, in awe, watching intently as flags danced before me. I could not contain my tears.
Will you go?
The words startled me.
Will you go?
Tears ran freely.
Yes, Lord. If you send me, I will go.
I will send you to the ones the world sees as less than perfect. I will send you to a people group that has been unloved. I will send you to your own people. Will you go?
I was weeping.
Yes Lord, here I am. Send me.
I did not realize, in my weakness, that my dream and then this holy moment were connected to each other. To give you a little more history, Andy and I began the process of becoming missionaries. When Nichole was born, we put that on hold. I did not realize at the time that Nichole being born with Down syndrome was the beginning of the journey, of going to those that the world sees as less than perfect. This “job” continues to drive us. If you have read my about me section, you know I am passionate about the church waking up and embracing people with disabilities.