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I was searching for a story of discipleship that would help bring the point of the homily into better focus. By coincidence I was reading a book by Karen Armstrong on the subject of compassion and I stumbled across Christina Noble.

I have no idea if she is a Christian. I have searched the web and there is remarkably little written about her and he passion for helping street children. Being Irish she is or was likely a Catholic. A particularly disheartening part of her childhood story, being thrown out of a Catholic Church by the priest for eating the wax of the votive candles, may have turned her against organized religion. I just don’t know.

I have decided to use her story with out having all the facts. I live by the rule that one should never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

Christina, often called Mama Tina, is a powerful example of Christian discipleship. Fr. Scott Lewis told us in the previous post that “Jesus wanted us to pass on the good news but mostly by example and inspiration.”

Christina has gone out to the nations- she has “baptized” many street children through her acts of caring and persevering with them through their suffering. Again I have no idea if she is a religious person- that seems irrelevant as when she does die and meets with our God I think He will look at her and say – “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Below is her story which I borrowed form a great site called Heroes. I encourage to take a minute to read it and then watch the two videos after the article to get a sense of what it might just mean to go out into the world as a disciple of Jesus.

Christina’s passion for children’s rights is rooted in her own horrendous upbringing. Christina knows what it’s like to be young, homeless and desperate. Born in Ireland into the slums of Dublin on 23 December 1944, she was to embark on a childhood of pain and betrayal. She and three siblings were raised by their mother while their father, who was once a bare knuckled fighter, frittered away what little money the family had on drinking in pubs. The death of her mother,when Christina was 10,brought about the separation of the children,as they were all sent to different orphanages.Christina spent four desperate years in the west of Ireland in an Institute being led to believe that her brothers and sisters were dead.Her escape brought her to Phoenix Park in Dublin where she slept in a hole in the ground that she herself dug. It was during this vulnerable time that Christina was subjected to a gang rape and became pregnant. A baby boy was born but given up for adoption against her will.

At the age of 18 Christina ran away to England to be with her brother.This is where she met and married her husband and had three children, Helenita, Nicolas and Androula.Unfortunately the cycle of abuse continued as her husband proved himself to be a violent and faithless man.She was regularly beaten, suffered a miscarriage and was later forced to undertake shock treatment for a mental breakdown and depression.It was during this particularly low ebb in her life around 1971 that she had a dream about Vietnam.

“I don’t know why I dreamed about Vietnam, perhaps it was because the country was so much in the news at the time.In the dream, naked Vietnamese children were running down a dirt road fleeing from a napalm bombing. The ground under the children was cracked and coming apart and the children were reaching to me.One of the girls had a look in her eyes that implored me to pick her up and protect her and take her to safety. Above the escaping children was a brilliant white light that contained the word ‘Vietnam’.”

This was a dream which she would one day triumphantly fulfil, albeit 20 years later.In 1989, with the goal to assist children in need, Christina arrived in Vietnam.Against all odds, Christina set up the Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City which has grown considerably. Christina remains the principal driving force and inspiration behind all of the projects and retains close personal contact with the children. In 1997, Christina expanded CNCF’s operations to Mongolia.

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