God Does Miracles
Despite all the doubts that existed going into the April trip, Jerome and Shanna Crawford knew it was time for them to finally return to Sierra Leone.
"The original day we decided-the very day we nailed it down when we were going to go-really weird stuff started happening," Jerome recounts. “For example, that night Shanna and I were having an intense discussion about my fears of our kids not being safe while we're gone, and as we were discussing this (in a frantic-but not faithful-way) there was a noise outside my son's door at one o'clock in the morning. He opened the door, and a very strong man who has made some very strong threats on my life in the past pushed his way into the house.” Thankfully, the Lord protected Jerome and his family that night, but it was obvious that Satan was attacking (something the Crawfords have come to expect prior to each trip).
On the Wednesday before the deadline for purchasing plane tickets for the trip, the Crawfords only had about 8% of the funds needed for the plane tickets. “I actually went and told our counselor that we weren't going,” Jerome said, “I've never done that before.” In the past, there's been extra money in the bank to cover situations like these, allowing us to go ahead and start funding the trip prior to the last second donations that come in. This time, there was no extra money.
“So, I told my wife that we weren't going, and I kinda wanted it to happen that way because I wasn't prepared for going back into the chaos of these trips and all the spiritual warfare. When I walked out of the counseling session, Shanna said 'guess what! Someone just gave all the money for the rest of our plane tickets!' I was stunned and confused. The money came from a woman I hadn't seen in 15 years. When we went to get the check from her she said she did not want to give us the money, but she really felt like God wanted her to.”
Unlike most of the previous trips, this time the Crawfords were going into some really tense circumstances. “There were three really severe legal obstacles we were going to have to face, and because of these things, Pastor Hassan (who runs the orphanage) was advising us not to come. But, as we can clearly see now, it was definitely part of God's plan for us to be there.”
It was very important for Komeo and the Crawfords to take a sabbatical this last year where they could heal, the organization could adjust to all the major changes that have happened over there, and to take the opportunity to restructure/build up some of the organization's foundation to be able to handle the amount of growth we believe God has planned for us. But, that year long sabbatical meant we were not able to go out and seek new sponsorships to keep up with the major growth in the number of kids at the orphanage. God performed a few miracles to meet the fundraising goals of our trip. But, unlike all our previous trips, there were no extra funds to use for any surprise needs.
When the Crawfords got there and told Pastor Hassan how little extra money they had with them, Pastor put his head in his hands and cried out to Jesus. The needs far surpassed what we were prepared for. "The orphanage was in complete disarray. The sewage tanks were overflowing, both on the girls side and the boys side, so no one could use the bathroom. The 200+ children and adults staying at the orphanage had to go out into the bushes within the complex! With that many people staying in one complex, if things are not sanitary, diseases can spread very quickly! We didn't know how we were going to be able to do all the things we needed to do with the limited amount of funds that we had."
Without being able to afford enough staff, things were very chaotic. Many beds were also missing and the kids coming from the Ebola refuge orphanage didn't have beds to sleep on. Despite not having any way to do it, Jerome decided early on in the trip that they were going to try and get beds for all the kids that didn't have them.
One of the reasons the trip was so important was because of some important legal negotiations that had to be made. Pastor Hassan was vital for this, as it would be next to impossible to do these negotiations without him. But, while working on these negotiations, Pastor got word that his aunt was dying.
"His aunt is like a mother to him because his aunt took care of him after his biological mother died. I've never seen him this distraught before, even with all the trials he has been through in the past. He was weeping and we encouraged him to go to the village to be with her. But he didn't want to go, because he knew how desperately he was needed to deal with all these incredibly important legal matters. We told him not to worry about it, that God would take care of us, and that he needed to go see his aunt."
"Pastor left to go see his aunt and a lot of the work just slowed down. When he's present, everything works quickly, but if he walks away everything slows down. He went to the village and we were doing the best we could, spending a lot of time at the orphanage. The next night, I was talking to some of the missionaries there when Alhassan and Quali (Pastor Hassan's uncle and our driver) came out on the balcony of our house looking very nervous. Quali tried to say something, but he couldn't talk. So Alhassan spoke up and told us that Pastor Hassan had been in a very serious accident. (We found out later there was a large truck parked in the middle of the road with its lights off and the driver didn't see it in time, running straight into it.)
“Alhassan announced that both of Pastor's legs were broken and that his head was swollen. Now to them, breaking both of your legs means you're most likely going to die. The hospitals aren't even going to give you priority, because it's basically a death sentence. Quali, an old man who never showed emotions, started mourning loudly, and the mourning spread all throughout our house. There were about 15 of the older kids staying with us and everyone was mourning and wailing. It was late at night and there was very little explanation. We didn't really know what was happening, so to me that meant he was dead.
"On one hand I was mourning, but there was a selfish part of me that started panicking. This whole place is in disarray right now and he can't even walk off for 5 minutes...he's like Russell Westbrook there. You pull Russell Westbrook out of the game and they'll evaporate a 20 point lead in two minutes! I don't want to have to move back here to sort all this out, this is not the plan!”
"We rushed down to the van and it was hours away to get to the hospital and we were traveling in the dark night which, since they had just got in an accident, was not my choice of travel plans. But we crammed into the van-I think there were 12 of us. There were a lot of people who wanted to go, but we had to tell them no. There was one man named Stafe who we refused to let come at first, but the others pleaded with us to let him go, so we did. We are so glad he came, because he was at pastor's bedside and you could see that he really, really loved pastor.
"It took over 4 hours to get there. I just put worship on, and I started to gain a little hope in the Lord at that time. I started thinking he might live through this. God does miracles! I started praying out loud and I was trying to get people to pray and to take courage, but there was a lot of silence. I think most the people in the car had resolved themselves to him being dead.
"At this time, we didn't even know that his wife and 3 kids from the orphanage were in the wreck as well. We knew that the driver was in the wreck and had passed away. I didn't really know the driver very well, but he was a muslim and I got him out of jail one time, so I would always joke with him about it and he would laugh. I talked to him a little bit about God, but I didn't know him that well. I think his lungs were punctured and probably would have lived if he could have gotten to a major hospital.
"When we got there at the hospital, there were a lot of things God had arranged to turn this whole thing around. Pastor has a cousin that's a doctor and since he's a relative he had come down for his aunt's funeral and just happened to stop and stay the night at a hotel in the town where the hospital was. He's done a lot of ministry work, so he's worked for every hospital in Sierra Leone and was very well known - all the doctors and nurses at that hospital knew who he was. Normally, when you get put into a hospital like that you are not going to get prompt treatment, especially if they think you are going to die. Pastor's cousin, Dr. Ali, heard about what happened and came to the hospital. At that time there was no Dr. on staff, just nurses, so he took charge and they let him take care of everything.
"The first thing they were going to do was amputate his legs (or 'foot' as they call the entire lower half of the leg) because in situations like this they think infection's going to come and amputation is the best way to survive. We had three different rooms. The girl, Abi, was in one room with her face cut up and nobody had treated her, her face was just all dirty, and this was hours after the accident. I kept arguing with the nurses, trying to insist that they treat her and we were dialoguing with the doctor back here in the U.S. who was telling us what needs to happen. So I was insisting they do things to treat her face and prevent it from scarring.
"His wife, Iysha, and a boy named Bobson were there in the next room. We thought Bobson's arm was broken because it was incredibly swollen. It turns out that the bones weren't actually broken, but he probably has torn muscles and tendons. He also had some swelling in his face and was just laying in the bed. Iysha was just sitting in the middle of a bed with two severely broken arms, and they weren't clean breaks either. I can't imagine the pain she was in, but she didn't seem to show any distress at all. In the third room was Big Dauda who will be in college next year. He had head wounds and he thought his leg was broken, but I think it may have been more of an orthopedic type of problem.”
"We sat there, and that's when we started posting some pictures on facebook. I had to open up the international data on my phone which I knew would be enormous charges, but I knew we desperately needed an army of people praying, because Dr. Ali wasn't saying that he thought Pastor would live, he had some serious doubts regarding his head, particularly over potential brain injuries and swelling on the brain. He also had other serious bone fractures in addition to the ones in his legs. I don't even know how many surgeries he had, because we kept coming back and hearing that he'd had another surgery or two.
"I think we were there till four or five in the morning, and we had a financial problem. Because he was doing the negotiations, we had given him Pastor all the money. I don't know what happened to all the money, but there were thieves that came to the car after the accident and started stealing stuff. I don't know how much they got. Thankfully, a lady saw what was happening with the thieves and ran up to them, pretending Pastor and the other passengers were her relatives. The thieves ran away and they were able to recover a little bit of stuff.
"So we had no money. And if you don't have money, you can't get treatment there. Dr. Ali helped make sure everything moved forward despite not having payment, but he also told us that we needed to get Pastor transferred to another hospital. Getting money wired was very difficult because Pastor Hassan has to be one of the people who signs for it. No one could get money out of the bank, so we had to get emergency money grams, but you could only send so much at a time. It was dark and we had to drive back in the rain to get to a money gram place. Turns out it didn't even open till 10, and there were probably 150 people waiting, and we've got to get Pastor transported.
"But, because of Dr. Ali's influence and knowing that we were on our way to get money, they went ahead and arranged for ambulance transportation to a European hospital run by the EU. That place is the best hospital I've ever seen there. Everything was so well organized and they kept everything sanitary. They don't even let guests in except two days of the week, they're very strict with their rules.
"We didn't know how much the hospital stuff was going to cost and I was sitting on the hospital bed thinking 'if he lives, we're going to have to manage all this.' I was asking God to do a miracle. But I wasn't only asking for the ability to do what needs to be done, I was asking to do even more than we planned on in the first place and be able to manage all of this at the same time.
"So, when we went back to the house, I called over the remnant of leadership there in the ministry. I said, 'Listen, this is not going to stop the things we want to do. We're still going to do the stuff at the orphanage. We're still going to get sponsors. I said, 'we're going to build 40 beds for the kids!
"They responded saying 'um, I don't think that's going to happen.' But I looked at them and said 'no, it's going to happen!' I told them I was naming them 'Team Impossible' because we were going to do the impossible. God is going to take this and use it for good. I made them all look at me and I said, 'If you guys will do everything you can do, there's no reason we can't get all this done. But you have to decide if you want to be used by God in this right now to do something that's impossible-to turn this around and use this evil thing for good. They all got fired up, and I gave each of them their assignments!
"We've attempted to build beds before and we've never gotten beds built so quickly. We had maybe seven days left, and from that point on, no one stopped moving...from early morning to late at night! We all decided that God was going to move through us, and he did."While working on the beds, I said to them all, 'The money isn't there yet, but it's going to come! And we're not just going to buy the old thin mattresses, we're going to buy the thicker ones that are going to last for a long time and actually be okay for the kids' backs. And not only that, the night before we leave we are all going to have a big celebration where all the kids are going to rejoice and they're going to thank God for Pastor's recovery and letting him live!' I knew God was moving! They believed, and we prayed about it.
"Right after we prayed, I went back to my bedroom and received a message that one of our donors gave a very large donation, specifying that it go for new mattresses. The amount of the donation was almost exactly what we needed to buy the nice, thick mattresses we had just prayed for!"
Not long after the information regarding the accident was posted on facebook, the story went viral and collected hundreds of shares and comments. New people were reached, thousands of people were praying, and donations from first-time donors came rolling in!
"Pastor Craig Groeshel had just given that great message on giving and being a generous giver. There were a lot of people who left that service inspired to give to something, and then saw the facebook posts and decided to give. Most of the money was originally intended for medical bills, but when we told them that we didn't know how much the medical bills were going to be, many said to just use it wherever it's needed.
What we didn't know at the time was that the big hospital was non-profit and Pastor's medical bills there were already covered. So, there was a lot of money left over which we were able to use to take care of those additional needs. Pastor Hassan was eventually released from the hospital and is now staying with his wife at the Komeo house outside the orphanage.
"On the last day, we had the celebration just like I promised. There was joy all throughout the orphanage, all the beds were there, we had painted all the rooms in the orphanage and spread out the beds so that they all had more room, the kids were all so excited! We had soccer games going on, we had a sound system come in, everybody had chicken, candy, and drinks, they even had little comedians come out and do slapstick comedy, everybody was laughing!
"It was amazing watching the things God did. It was like an avalanche of movement!"
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