Faces on Faith: Giving thanks in all circumstances
In a letter to an early Christian community, the Apostle Paul wrote: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18, New International Version)
What moves me about these words is my experience of people who live them, people who – in the words they speak and the lives they live – give thanks in all the circumstances of their lives.
One such person is Andrea Miller, author of Reflections from a Simple Heart and Andrea and the Children of Karunalayam, and founder of the Andrea Miller Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that provides support and services to orphan/needy children throughout the world.
It was my good fortune to meet Andrea this past season at Captiva Chapel by the Sea when she attended a family wedding and at Sunday worship services.
Today, I was blessed to receive in the mail the gift of her personally autographed books.
Andrea has discovered God’s will for her life in the midst of personal hardships and life-threatening challenges. She was diagnosed with brain cancer before she was one year of age.
Surgeries have resulted in significant loss of brain tissue and she has been afflicted with strokes, headaches and seizures. Against the odds and the challenges of her life she has come to be a charming young adult who is making a difference for good in the world.
My spirit is deeply moved, my heart warmed, and my life challenged by what this young person has and is accomplishing on behalf of others. In her teenage years she heard of young people in a faraway place who needed food and shelter.
Andrea resolved to help them and through her efforts several thousands of dollars have been contributed to meet the needs of girls living in an orphanage in Kerala, India.
Donors to her campaign received her personal artwork in gratitude for their gift.
Andrea embraces her physical challenges believing God has created her as she is for a purpose, and that purpose is to draw attention to those who are less fortunate. “Adversity has given me a forum by which I can bring hope to others,” she has said.
I am blown away by what she has done for others: 25 kids assisted with summer scholarships, funds for a children’s hospital in Liberia, support to the families of tornado victims in Tuscaloosa, AL, provided over 500 coats, boots, mittens, hats for kids in MN/WI, 450 reading books for local schools, maintenance of 4 orphanages in India and a school in Haiti, wells for water in remote villages of India, and much more.
Presently, in the District of Khammam, India her foundation is funding the construction of houses for flood victims, constructing 50 houses, 40 Bore wells and 50 toilets. My list is not exhaustive.
Over against life circumstances that could have made her bitter, resentful and feeling sorry for herself, this young woman thanks God that she can invest her life, as it is, in efforts that make a difference.
She writes: “No other child of God holds within them the gifts most lovingly given to you. If you do not use your gifts, no one else will.All of us can move towards a better life on earth, a better world, if we do what God has told us, if we use what we know.” (Reflections from a Simple Heart).
Andrea gives thanks in her life circumstances in her words, “God is good all the time.” In so doing she is making a difference and giving children a chance for a better life.
“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” – John Henry Jowett
– George Morris, Pastor, Captiva Chapel by the Sea