You may not have heard of it, but don’t miss the chance to see Noble, the amazing true story of Christina Noble. She was born in poverty in Ireland in 1944. Her mother died when she was ten. Her father was an alcoholic and the state put her in an orphanage (and lied and told her that her siblings had died). After the orphanage, she was homeless, gang-raped, lost her job (because she was pregnant from the rape) and forced to go live with the nuns, again, until she had her baby. The nuns then forced her to give her baby up for adoption. She later married, and had three children, but her husband was abusive and unfaithful.
It’s a hard story, especially if you just stop there, but I want to pause and focus on her attitude through all her hardships. Christina had a very real, gritty, honest relationship with God. She could be honest with him about her hurt and pain and disappointment, but she chose to continue to trust that He had a plan in store. You can see it throughout her life. When she was a little girl and her mom was sick, she told God, “I’m sorry, I’ve been asking for too many things. I don’t have to look like Doris Day and I don’t have to go to America, if only you don’t let me mum die.” As she was older and hurt by the nuns, she said, “Do you actually love those people? Because I can’t be your friend for much longer if you do. Not that I’m really going to hate them, just letting you know what’s going on in me head…. I know I’ve taken some hard knocks…but I know you have better things in store.” After being gang raped, her response is amazing: “You’ve let me down badly. So you better have something good in store for me to make up to me.” And this is her response after the nuns gave her baby up for adoption, without her consent: “I don’t know what to say to you except that now we both know what it’s like to lose a son. I’m not being blasphemous. It’s just that if I stop believing now, I won’t be able to get through. … I hope you’ll explain this very soon, but until then, you’ll have to listen to me cussin’ and swearin’.”
She never quit God. She never gave up. She never assumed that just because something bad happened God couldn’t be trusted. Instead, she had full confidence that god would make up for the bad. She believed that good was in store, she had only to wait for it. She was like David, crying out in Psalm 27:
I believe[f] that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord
She always believed that she would, someday, see the goodness of the Lord—goodness that would be good enough to make up for the bad she had suffered.
While she was suffering abuse from her husband, crying out to God for answers and for hope, God gave her a vision of the suffering children in Vietnam calling out to her for help. She knew the vision was from God, and that purpose sustained her. Once her children were on their own, she moved to Vietnam. She didn’t know what to do or how to do it, but she moved in faith, and then prayed about what to do next. She told God, “I’ll walk; you lead.” And she did…and He did. She set out for a walk and as she did, God brought her to an orphanage and a woman who would become her close friend and partner in ministry. Years later, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation has created about 100 centers and helped more than 700,000 children in Vietnam and Mongolia.
All those things she had suffered made her compassionate to the plight of the needy in Vietnam. She knew what it was like to be orphaned. She knew what it was like to be homeless and to be rejected by society, the “dust” of society. She was passionate about protecting young girls from rape and sex trafficking. She knew the struggle of mothers who had lost children, who were trying to keep their families together, who suffered abuse. And she was fearless. She was tenacious about raising funds for the children and equipped to do so from years of being desperate and providing for herself.
When the Bible says that God can work all things for good, it doesn’t mean that only good things will happen. It means that God can bring forth good things from all things, even from bad things. A farmer will use poop to fertilize his soil and grow good crops. It doesn’t mean the poop is good, or that it should be eaten. It means that a good farmer can use bad things, even waste, stench and filth, to grow a good harvest; and that harvest is something you can eat. This was Christina Noble’s faith, and it is her life. Poop was heaped on her life from the start. And it was continually piled on top of her for years and years and years. And it was poop. Make no mistake. There is no way to see that gang rape as a good thing. It wasn’t. BUT… from all that poop and all those horrible things, a harvest began to grow. A harvest of faith and righteousness and power and compassion and conviction and vision… Her foundation and the hundreds of thousands of people’s lives affected by it are the rich, abundant harvest which grew from the well-fertilized (aka pooped on) soil that was her early life.
Her story was a really hard story, up to a point, but in the end it’s an incredibly beautiful and victorious story. Christina kept her faith through it all. She used all that pain and suffering to help her understand and care for those who were suffering as she had. She wasn’t beaten by her sorrows, but instead, made them her servants. She used them and was empowered by them. She was not a victim; she was an overcomer.
Questions for Discussion:
- How do you respond when you get pooped on?
- How would you have responded to God if you had been in Christina’s shoes during all of her hardships?
- Are you honest with God when you pray?
- Do you believe God can make good things happen even out of bad circumstances?
- Are you willing to wait for half a life time before you see God work good out of the hard things in your life?
- How did her hardships uniquely equip her for her work in Vietnam?
- Who might you be uniquely able to help because of your past? What might you be uniquely able to do?