When Greg Rausch attended a Winter Jam 2014 concert in Cincinnati, he was surprised to see photos of his daughter with members of the Christian band NewSong on wall-length banners plastered around the arena. The photos were taken when NewSong visited his daughter’s care center in India, before she came home to the Rausch family. Below, Greg shares what it was like to see photos of his daughter from before they were a family.
“That kind of looks like your daughter, Mr. Rausch.”
“What?” I asked, perplexed by this random and seemingly nonsensical statement from Daniel, a boy in our youth group. “Where?”
“Up there,” Daniel said while pointing back over my shoulder at something up in the air.
My entire evening turned on those words. Have you ever had the experience of seeing someone you know, but seeing him or her completely out of context? You know, when you were growing up and you saw your English teacher walking in the mall? Or your barber/hair stylist at the gym? You know how your brain just sort of locks into position and you suddenly lose all capacity to think or speak coherently?
We have all had those experiences. Well, that night, the night of the February 21, 2014 Winter Jam concert, I did a quadruple-take. Not a double-take. Not a triple-take. A literal quadruple-take. There, hanging on the wall, (I thought for sure it must be 40 feet tall at first) was a much larger-than-life picture of my daughter! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I didn’t quite know how to process it at first. Thus, the quadruple-take. My brain simply could not fathom what I was seeing. When my brain finally engaged, what it saw was a picture of my daughter with one of the band members of Christian rock group NewSong hanging from the wall. Not only was this picture hanging on the wall, the kicker is that this exact picture was the wallpaper on my phone, placed just hours before.
Now, this next part is what makes this so enthralling to me. I have never met anyone from the band NewSong, nor has anyone in my family (well, except for my daughter). You see, the band visited my daughter’s care center in September 2010 in India before we even had our daughter’s referral. While there, they took many photos with the children — one of which became a huge banner to help draw attention to the needs of orphaned children during the Winter Jam concert series. Some of those pictures were posted to the website of Vathsalya Charitable Trust (one of Holt’s partner organizations in India, through which my daughter was placed in foster care before she joined our family). About two years ago, my wife found those pictures and downloaded them. Pictures and information about our two adopted children from before they joined our family are more precious than gold. Just before going to the Winter Jam show, my wife suggested she email those pictures to me on the off-chance I might be able to show them to the band members and let them know that their efforts helped to bring a child home. I liked one of the pictures so much, I moved it from email to my phone’s wallpaper. Apparently, I was not the only one to like that picture so much!
Now, back to the story. I have always heard the phrase, “He was acting like a crazed loon.” I am not sure if I have ever before experienced what that is, but that night, I experienced it! I didn’t see it. I WAS it. I proceeded to walk back against the onslaught of concertgoers trying to exit the building. While wading back against the flow, I held my phone up, sticking it in the face of anyone I saw while shouting (like a crazed loon), “That’s my daughter! That’s my daughter!” I finally made it back to the table where the banner was displayed, and repeated my emphatic statement. Thankfully, the very pleasant lady behind the table didn’t call security, but in fact shared in my joy. Also thankfully, she had the presence of mind to ask if I wanted to come behind the table to get a picture taken with my oldest son and I next to the banner. If she had not done that, I am pretty sure I would simply have walked away without ever taking that photograph.
It was only several days later that I began to look at that event through the eyes of the people I gleefully shouted at while leaving the concert. Some of those people probably actually understood. I recognized a shared joy on some of their faces. Some of the people probably couldn’t think past the crazed loon. Some of the people may have actually thought I was bragging that my daughter was pictured on the wall. If you are reading this, and if you saw me there, please know that I had no idea that banner existed and was simply stunned and overjoyed by what I saw.
My final set of thoughts about the whole thing were simply this: “It works.” Sponsoring children really DOES make a difference. The children in the care of Holt and Holt’s partners overseas, my daughter included, are clearly well-loved and well-cared for. They are engaged in the world around them, and they were learning about the love of the Lord. We know this because we got to visit our daughter in care in India. While there, before we left with our daughter, the children sang to us. They sang many songs about Jesus. They sang with love. They sang with joy. And they were known to our great King.
Greg Rausch | Ohio
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