Compassion and love spoke to the hearts of those who watched a special broadcast about Oprah Winfrey's work in Africa. To some, her life and good works are answered prayer.
Wondering how to celebrate the holidays with meaning, Oprah recalled her most remembered Christmas. When she was 12, her family had no money to buy gifts for her and her two younger siblings, so she went to bed thinking there would be no Christmas that year. After she was in bed, she recalled hearing a knock at the door. Some nuns surprised the family with gifts and food.
Thinking about the restored hope she felt that night, she realized that she wanted to give that same gift back to children in need.
Nelson Mandela had recently spoken with Oprah about the desperate conditions of children in Africa, so she decided to go there for her Christmas of gift-giving. She and her crew brought with them beautiful brightly wrapped packages of clothing and toys and, best of all, compassion to give to 50,000 children, orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
Special care was taken to speak directly with each child. Each was tenderly given the one thing Oprah felt was most important of all the gifts - a sense of individual value and respect, and the feeling of being loved.
Watching such generosity and love inspired me. I don't have that kind of money, and I can't travel to Africa right now, but I can pray with a generous spirit that embraces those children in God's love.
A book I study along with the Bible, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, is teaching me about healing prayer. I was able to put that prayer into action when I, too, was moved by the needs of children.
A number of years ago, our local paper ran a different story each week about children needing homes in our community. The articles were complete with a photo of the hopeful children. These stories tugged at my heart. What a way to find a home, I thought.
Compassion moved me to pray. My prayer began with God as universal Love. I prayed to realize that God is the loving Parent of each child. Prayerfully I affirmed that right where each child is, there is God's tenderness, protecting care, and embracing love. I prayed to see that God's love was practical, deep, and always actively loving each child. For a number of weeks I prayed daily for the children.
Little did I know that within two years I would adopt two older abused kids and that over the next few years we would have housed over 14 children for varying periods of time. Prayer opened up all kinds of opportunities to love.
We witnessed lots of healing during those years. Some of our close friends also adopted children. We got calls for more children who needed homes than we could accept.
Prayer is definitely an action word. Much good came about because of prayer for children, and we were so blessed in our giving.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, had a wonderful sense of the power of prayer. Her generosity, compassion, and ability to heal were recognized worldwide. She understood and demonstrated that prayer could reveal the goodness and care of God in the lives of those needing help. She established a system that teaches how scientific prayer rooted in the present reality of God's love as an ever-present Father-Mother alleviates suffering and reveals all good as present now.
In one of her books Mrs. Eddy wrote: "From the interior of Africa to the utmost parts of the earth, the sick and the heavenly homesick or hungry hearts are calling on me for help, and I am helping them" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 147).
We, too, can answer the calls of those in need. Our prayers make a difference. They are a powerful force that reaches those in Africa and all over the world. Prayer that supports all that is good in this world will heal. We are all united in the universal love of our Father-Mother God, and together we can pray to see that God's love is good and is with us all right now.