just start with gabe & nina

My heart is heavy for two people groups today. The people of the Philippines who have been ravaged by one of the worst tropical storms in history. And the children of Cambodia who have been ravaged by the evil of human trafficking.

And it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. So many people. So much hurt. So much need. I can’t take it.

And what can I do anyway? My life is kind of in shambles at the moment. First world shambles maybe, but hard nonetheless.

And so I focus on one. His name is Gabriel (Gabe for short). He’s going to be 8 next week. He and his family call the Philippines home. Every month we send $38 to Compassion International, and they help Gabriel’s parents send him to school and feed and clothe him.

We don’t know if he and his family are safe right now. So we’re praying and waiting to hear.

And I focus on one more. Her name is Nina. She’s 9. We know where Nina is right now. She’s in Cambodia with her family. But she’s not safe. When she was 6, our friends at the Hard Places Community met her for the first time. They found out that her father, a drug lord, had been selling her for sex. She had also been gang-raped by a teenage gang.

The law in Cambodia makes no provision for taking children away from parents who inflict this kind of evil on them, so our friends prayed, loved Nina whenever and however they could, helped her get counseling, and prayed and loved some more.

Twelve weeks ago–a miracle! Nina’s father abandoned their family, and Hard Places was able to get her to a safe place for help and healing.

And now her father is back. And has demanded her return. Not because he loves and misses her. But because her precious little body funds his drug habit.

And so we sit in a circle as a family, with my own 7yo Nina sitting across from me, and we pray for the Nina on the other side of the globe. That she’ll know God loves her. That her father will be stopped, that he’ll have a miraculous change of heart, and like Livi prayed, that he’ll come to know Jesus.

And we will do more than pray. We’ll give. And I beg you (BEG you) to hear this in the spirit of humility with which it’s written. That this isn’t about us AT ALL but God IN us.

We don’t have much to give. Gabe quit his job 9 days ago, and while we wait for some answers about this medicine that is wreaking havoc with his mind and body, we’re trusting God for our daily bread.

BUT. God has shown us that we can use what we have (like our mad Christmas-card making skillz), and he will send amazing, generous people our way, and we will cut and corner and glue and stamp and package Christmas cards. And people will buy them. (we’ve sold almost 200 so far!) And we’ll have a blast doing it.

We dropped the girls off at my parents’ house a little bit ago (Gabe and I are spending the day in Cleveland tomorrow), but they’ve assigned me the task of depositing $150 in cash (of The Dancing Elephant money) into the bank before it closes. (Livi’s the President, Ava’s the CEO, Nina’s the Executive Director, and I’m the lowly intern.)

Then I will head to the Hard Places Community website and send $100 to them to help Nina and those like her. Then I will head to the Compassion International website and send $50 to help Compassion help those in the Philippines who have been affected by the typhoon.

And if you’re still reading, I want you to PROMISE me something. That you won’t for a second think, “Wow, those Tavianos are amazing. I wish I could…”

Nope. We aren’t amazing. And you CAN. And if you know how, GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. And if you don’t know how, pray for Gabe and/or Nina, and ask God, “How can I use the resources you’ve given me to put some $ where my prayers are?”

And if you have any ideas you’d like to share with others, LET US KNOW.

Bless you, friends. It’s a joy and an honor to serve Jesus and love the world with all of you.

8 thoughts on “just start with gabe & nina

  1. brooke

    i’m between churches at the moment and try to be a bit creative with my tithe – can’t think of a better place to send it then to CI’s emergency relief. also? I’ve been terribly slack in writing my CI kid (Suman). Will do that today.


  2. Bethany

    Thanks for writing this Marla. I have 6 ready-to-ship banners in my shop right now–if anyone purchases one before midnight tomorrow night (Friday 11/15), I will give 100% of it to Compassion International to help with relief efforts in the Philippines. We support a 7 year old girl named Claire in the Philippines and we are waiting to hear how she and her family are doing.

  3. Stacy

    I can’t stop crying…My heart breaks for those you spoke of, and I feel the unconditional love that you exemplify with your generosity. I know I can, and like you (Thank You), I will find a way to show the Love of Jesus Christ by giving to those who need to see His LOVE. Thank You for this challenge. I pray that God will Bless you and Gabe in abundance! You ARE amazing!

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