Despair, Prayer, and Hope

Executive Vice President Jacque Spence shares her perspective on the challenges Dalan faces.

Dalan, before his last surgery. PC: Jenna S.

Dalan, before his last surgery. PC: Jenna S.

Matthew 8 reads: "Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown'" (Matt. 8:23-25, NIV).

I know exactly how the disciples felt. Jamie and I were on our little 31-foot sailing boat crossing the Pacific Ocean when we got caught in the middle of a hurricane. The waves rose up as tall as Yosemite's sheer El Capitan. The wind blew furiously, churning up skyscraper waves. The seas violently pitched our boat back and forth from stem to stern, threatening at any moment to capsize it. The wind howled relentlessly—I couldn't look at the waves as they came crashing onto the boat, snapping the tiller from my hand, almost pitching Jamie off the boat, throwing him as far as the tether on his safety harness.

I know fear—and I know prayer—and there are no atheists in a storm. For days, we prayed for help.

Are you there? Do you hear me? Are you even watching? Why us? What did we do to deserve this? Do you care?

Nine-year-old Dalan was climbing a breadfruit tree. His goal was to get high enough to jump onto the roof of a building. Marshallese children like games that revolve around climbing and jumping. But when Dalan jumped, he landed on a low-lying live wire that sent high voltage electricity through his body, burning his face, obliterating his nose, and severing his toes. The voltage threw him off the roof, and he remained in a coma for several days.

Dalan with Peter, a teacher who is hosting Dalan and his mother in New York.

Dalan with Peter, a teacher who is hosting Dalan and his mother in New York.

When he finally regained consciousness, this happy-go-lucky 9-year-old looked completely different. His face was burnt—he had no nose—and his eyes had changed. He feared being seen—kids laughed at him—and adults walked on the other side of the street to avoid him. Dalan lived in the Marshall Islands, where there is no CAT scan machine, plastic surgeon, burn expert, or other related specialty healthcare.

He was stricken with despair, feeling the terror that we all do when we wonder:

Are you there? Do you hear me? Are you even watching? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Do you care?

And all he ever heard was silence.

A year went by, and Canvasback's first ENT mission came to Dalan's island. He was too scared to be seen in public, so he slinked to the back of our clinic, covering his face with a dirty towel.

I didn't know what we could ever do for Dalan. All I knew was that we needed to pray that somehow something could be done to ease the pain and shame and fear of this boy.

Three more years passed, and we sent another ENT mission to Majuro. We reached out to a prominent plastic surgeon in New York to ask if he would join our team—his secretary transferred me directly to him.

"Dr. Dagan, my name is Jacque Spence. Seven years ago, you submitted an application to join our mission."

His immediate reply: "Yes, and I have been waiting for you to call me."

This turned out to be the best thing that could happen for Dalan. I'd like to take you on a short video trip to see how God used this man to answer his prayers.

A few months ago, Dalan flew to New York and had two surgeries to rebuild his nose. Dr. Dagan and his colleagues donated their services. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mt. Sinai graciously allowed free use of its facilities.

Dalan has another surgery this month, and he's already looking great.

For more information on how you can help, visit Dalan's page listed in our project highlights, or follow us on Facebook.

God's timing never seems to correspond with what we expect. And often we think He doesn't even hear. But He knows—He hears—and He answers.

Dalan, after one of his surgeries in New York.

Dalan, after one of his surgeries in New York.