I’ve told Saleh’s story at least one thousand times by now. He’s a young man in Iran whose bones begged to break. His spine was collapsing, leaving his rib cage to rest heavily on his lungs and heart. Saleh had a lot of strikes against him:
1. His mom was terminally ill. When she died, Saleh would die because nobody would care for him.
2. Doctors in Iran laughed at him and said, “There is no cure for your disease”.
3. He had no money to travel to find a doctor who could help.
My friend helped. At 16 years of age, Saleh came to the U.S. for surgeries to repair a badly malformed arm and put a stainless steel rod in his spine. Ella hosted Saleh for a year while doctors provided the surgeries he needed. Ella’s (and Saleh’s) story inspired me to action.
“How come we don’t hear more stories of kids coming to the U.S. like that,” I wondered.
The reason was simple. There was no organization in existence that could responsibly manage to bring in more than a handful of kids to the U.S. No nonprofit had leadership, action or vision to help very sick kids on a large scale. Ella helped one boy. Over 10 years, she helped a total of four children. Each with their own story; each either terminally ill or severely impaired. Each healed. And I began to wonder.
What if there were a thousand “Ella’s”?
What if we brought in ten thousand “Saleh’s”?
What if we told the story of each child, for as many people would listen?
What if we could give millions of people an opportunity to help severely injured and ill children to get help?
Like I said, I’ve told Saleh’s story at least a thousand times. It has a really happy ending. One where his mom writes through a translator to Ella to tell my friend that she is like an angel. A mom’s heart, poured out in broken English, sharing how Saleh was a “moveable dead”. Thanking Ella that she represented Jesus Christ to her son. And sometimes when I talk about Saleh, I share about how he went back to Iran and got a computer degree.
The first couple of times that I shared Saleh’s story, I told it to some friends that could do something about it. Influential and humble servants of Christ. People that would want to help these children… maybe even more than I wanted to help them. Those friends told some more friends, and before we knew it, we had created a social movement. Not a fad, and really not just another nonprofit (at last count in the U.S., there are about 1.5 million nonprofit organizations). 2010 is the year in which one sick boy’s story started a movement that will impact many millions of people.