Inspired by RennelRich Stigall
Last fall, I received an e-mail from a return trip GO’er offering to cover a large portion of a club-foot surgery for Rennel. Rennel’s spirit deeply touched this man. Yesterday, at Saintilus (Gonaives, Haiti), I had the opportunity to meet Rennel, 17. I now understand.
Rennel’s warm eyes welcomed us. I then noticed his clubbed left foot; so twisted his body weight comes down on the knuckle bones. I usually like to play soccer with the older boys, but in my mind, I committed my time there to Rennel. He and I helped the younger children build balsa wood airplanes and then flew them in “longest distance contests” outside.
Nearby a soccer game was underway. Rennel looked at me and said, “Trace, annale jue footbol.”
While I don’t know much Creole, “Let’s play soccer” is a phrase I often use; yet, this time, I didn’t understand. Was Rennel inviting me to play soccer? Well, maybe we could go off, out of the way, and I could gently kick a ball to his good foot? As we stepped onto the field, it quickly became obvious Rennel had far more in mind than some neutered side show.
Rennel hopped, loped, and began to juke American after American with his “step over” move. Despite getting juked myself, I smiled. My heart filled.
Rennel is not on the sideline, feeling sorry for himself, waiting for someone to fix his “problem.” He is in the game of life, giving his best, helping others.
Later, I learned more of Rennel’s story. His father left when Rennel was 2. His mother died in the last 12 months. Yet Rennel pushes on. He shared with me he would like to have surgery on his foot. I joked with him that it might slow him down on the soccer field for a little while. He grinned and assured me that was ok.
Rennel is an inspiration to me. Helping him is now a very personal call. He needs a surgical team. We need to pray and ask God to provide. Are you in?