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The Miracle of GivingThe Miracle of Giving
by Amy Nappa

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“I will always see this as something God called me to do.” (Joyce Roush, organ donor)

    Have you ever donated blood? I had my first experience with a Red Cross blood drive during my senior year in high school. Most of my homeroom class eagerly signed up to give blood. I’d like to say we volunteered out of a noble sense of mission, service, and sacrifice. The truth was, we just wanted to get out of class for half an hour. And besides, they were serving free cookies!

    I don’t have a fear of needles, so I watched with interest as the phlebotomist located my vein, swabbed my arm with alcohol, inserted a needle, and instructed me to squeeze a rubber ball. All went according to plan; my blood filled the small bag, and soon I was done and heading for the Oreos. That, of course, is when I passed out. But I survived, and I lived to donate blood again (and pass out again...).

    Now, I’m the kind who thinks sharing chocolate is a heroic act, so giving blood is fairly grand on my scale. After all, the transaction involves all give and no take (if you don’t count the cookies). That’s why I was truly amazed when I read about Joyce Roush in the local newspaper.* Joyce donated more than blood; she donated one of her organs. While she was still living. To a total stranger!

    Here’s how it happened. Joyce Roush works as a coordinator of organ donations at the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization. In that position she sees, day in and day out, the need for healthy organs to save the lives of others. Over time, Joyce began to believe God wanted her to do something more that just coordinate the process. Taking to heart one of her favorite scriptures, Matthew 5:16, Joyce decided to “let her light shine” in order to bring glory to God. She volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.

    “I really thought in the beginning that this would be no big deal,” Joyce relates. “My vision when I volunteered to do this was that thousands of people [must] have done this before me.”

    Not so. In reality, only one other living person had ever donated an organ to a complete stranger — and that had happened in the same year as Joyce’s donation. Yes, people are often willing to donate their organs to suffering family members and loved ones. And yes, sometimes people allow the organs of their deceased family members to be given to strangers. But there’s no line of folks waiting breathlessly to give a part of their living body to save the life of someone they don’t know. After all, it’s a painful and potentially dangerous sacrifice. Who would do it without some strong motivation?

Joyce’s motivation was her compelling desire to touch someone with the love of God.
    Joyce’s motivation was her compelling desire to touch someone with the love of God. Eventually her kidney went to a thirteen-year-old boy named Christopher Bieniek, who showed his gratefulness for this incredible gift by naming Joyce his “other mom.” Today he keeps in touch with Joyce via e-mail. She teases him that since she gave him her “smart kidney,” she expects good grades on his report card. But most of all, she says, “I just want him to stay healthy.”

    Amazingly, Joyce doesn’t see Christopher as the only one getting a gift out of the deal. “The greatest blessing for me,” she explains, “is that for a moment in time, I got to see God’s purpose for me and see that manifest. That, for me, has been a miracle.”

    I will never know how my blood donation back in high school, or any of the donations I’ve made since then, touched the life of another person. Joyce, however, has the joy of seeing how her touch has truly changed the life of a teenage boy. God used her to bring healing to his body.

    By telling Joyce’s story, I’m not making a plea for you to go out and donate your blood, your kidney, your bone marrow, or anything else. I’m not even asking you to sign a donor card allowing your organs to be used after your death (though these are great ideas). Instead, I want to encourage you to open your heart to those people you might touch, even if it means a sacrifice on your part.

    God might want you to extend his love by offering to baby-sit for the single parent down the street — yes, the one with the runny-nosed kids. Hee might want you to prepare a hearty meal for that lonely old man who recently lost his wife — and to sit and visit with him while he eats. Who knows, he might even want you to reach out and touch the life of a total stranger in some way you can’t imagine right now. Are you willing to set aside your own comfort to touch someone else with God’s love?

    Joyce Roush’s gift brought healing to the life of a young man and, ultimately, glory to God. Your gift of love may not bring physical healing, but it might bring healing to a hurting heart. And that would bring glory to God, too.

    God, thank you for the incredible gift you gave through the death of your son. Help me to be willing to sacrifice some of my comfort to bring your healing to the lives of others.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)


* “Selfless Organ Donor Relies on Her Faith,” The Reporter-Herald (Loveland, Colo.), 23 October 1999.

 
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      © From her book, "A Woman's Touch: The Fingerprints Left Behind" © 2001, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission. This article cannot be reprinted in another publication without written permission of the publisher. Click here to buy this title online!

      Title: "The Miracle of Giving"
      Author: Amy Nappa
      Publication Date: April 11, 2003


 

 
 
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