by Bill Martin        His name was Steven. He was a boy maybe four or five years old, sandy hair and a surprising build for someone in his condition.

       I was talking with the doctor and stroking Steven's back when he woke up. Steven was looking away and had to stretch around to get a good look at me.

       The hospital crib was slightly rusted but clean. The room Steven was in could hold up to 8 children or so, but he was alone. The hospital was for abandoned and crippled children in Oradea, Romania.

       As I continued to gently stroke his back, Steven stretched around, his eyes locking into mine. He slowly turned his body around, climbed up on one knee at a time, then to his feet. We were now nose to nose. It was then Steven grabbed onto my neck like he was drowning.

       It was a grip like nothing I have ever felt before. I realized after a moment that he must have felt like he was drowning in a lack of love and attention. If Steven didn't grab on for dear life he just might lose his. I held and kissed that little boy, all alone in the hospital room in Romania and then cried the better part of thirty minutes.

       Steven makes me think of my own life. God is my life preserver. Proverbs 8:35 "For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord."

       I was back in Romania for ten days as part of a special series of reports to run in November. I saw so many disturbing things and I saw great hope. What I realized about myself though is that I can and need to do a lot more. Not so much with busy work, but with my character.

       Romans 5:4 "suffering produces perservance, perseverance, character and character hope. And Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us."

       I know that I have sought happiness in the wrong way from time to time. I've tried the money thing, power, pleasure and fame. Paul however in this passage brings three practical benefits to following Christ. 1). Peace with God. 2). Hope in pain and 3). Unconditional love.

       I struggle with these things every day but Steven has brought new meaning to them.

       A chance meeting with an abandoned boy in the middle of nowhere has helped me to realize that I can easily drown without my faith. No matter what else I do or am in life, there is nothing more important than my faith and God's daily molding of my character.

       John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

       In Judaism disciples who had lost their rabbi were called orphans but this is not the case with followers of Christ. Christ is always with us. I know He was with Steven and me in that solitary hospital room in Romania. I felt His presence and His challenge for me to change even more.

       1 Cor. 15:51 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep but we will all be changed in a flash..."

       Eventually we will all be changed in a flash but for the moment it's one painful step at a time. God is molding me. I know that Steven has God's love too.

       It was that little boy who helped mold me a little more in the likeness of Christ. I will never forget that hug.

Bill Martin is a multiple winner of Emmy and Associated Press Awards for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He was also inducted into the Ohio Television/Radio Hall of Fame in 1999.