For two young mothers from Mongolia, a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Cleveland, Ohio, meant that their young children would receive life-saving heart surgery in the United States through the Children’s Heart Project, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. Accompanied by a faithful Christian woman, Baagii, who served as the group’s interpreter, these women, strangers at the start, banded together and stepped forward in faith.
Leaving their families to travel across the world in the hope that their children would be healed was an act of faith in itself. Little did the moms know when they left Mongolia, that their hearts would be transformed, too. Through this experience, both mothers, Chantsa and Daggie (short for Delgermaa), professed faith and were baptized in front of a small group at Parkside before returning home.
“But we have to back up,” said Liz Johnson, the host mom for the visitors. Liz learned from this experience just how important prayer is. “A month and a half before we really started to prepare for this adventure, I had my Bible study group praying that the Lord would take away their hearts of stone and give them hearts of faith. We prayed this verse every week as a group and we went home and prayed and prayed and prayed. We asked and God answered.”
Marita Johnson, Liz and Rusty’s oldest daughter, added that the mothers were surprised by how much everyone seemed to care for them. “When they heard that the whole church had been praying for them,” she said, “[the mothers] thought, ‘They don’t even know us and they care about us.’”
Missions or Hospitality? Maybe It’s Both
We so often think of missions work as requiring travel to far off lands, but in this instance the mission field came here. “Some people are in different seasons of life and can’t travel,” said Liz, “but here the Lord brought the mission field right into our home and everybody had a part.”
As noted on their website, The Children’s Heart Project seeks partner churches who will “become witnesses of Christ’s love as they experience missions work in their own backyard. The opportunity to impact the nations for Jesus through a family and a Christian community modeling the love of Jesus is enormous! Dozens of parents have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior through the project. They multiply the blessings when they take their new faith back to their families and nations.”
“Your church gets it,” said Debra Richardson, regional host coordinator with the Children’s
Heart Project, referring to the robust volunteer team during her visit to meet the group from Mongolia. Debra commended Parkside’s team of volunteers who joined together to help make this experience a success. In Debra’s 14 years of experience, she knows that one person or family cannot do all of the work that is required to manage these trips.
Many Hands Make Light Work
While the Johnsons provided a warm and welcoming home for the women and their children during their five-week stay, as many as 30 other volunteers prayed, visited, as well as provided transportation, food, gifts, and more. They showed hospitality and modeled Christian love in many different ways. The team credited Judy Brookhart with keeping them in line and on task. “Judy kept us all on schedule with her wonderful energy, thoughtfulness, and organizational skills,” said Liz.
For Ken Unger and Lorrie Smith, being open and ready to serve opened doors that led to joining the team. “I just called [the church one day and let them know] I was ready to do something,” said Lorrie. “I was open to whatever would come my way and through this I got to meet Judy and Ken and all of these people who were new to me. We were very blessed. It seemed as though everything fell into line very quickly and easily.”
“Just step out in faith,” said Ken, as an encouragement to others who are looking for a place to serve. “If you do that, and every member of the team is doing the same thing, you bond right away and you’re helping and supporting one another. The Johnsons hosted a great party for all of the volunteers and I didn’t know hardly anybody there. But here we are, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and boom, everybody got along. And after the party, the two mothers would give me a hug when they saw me and little Eggie wasn’t shy with me anymore.”
Interested in Serving?
Parkside has hosted Children’s Heart Project families from Bolivia, Honduras, and Mongolia, and may be asked to host again in the future. If you would like to serve with a future Children’s Heart Project team, please contact Pastor Dan Southam for more information.
If you are like Lorrie and find yourself sensing that God is encouraging you to serve somewhere, we’d love to help you get plugged in. Contact at the church office and someone will be happy to follow up with you!