Our agency is growing...within the last 9 months, we've grown from a one person show (me) to 2 full time employees and 2 part time employees. And all of this growth is happening in my home office! :)
As you can imagine, a not for profit isn't just rolling in the dough, so it saves us thousands of dollars to work out of my home for now. We have a growth plan in place...but we are definitely in that stretching time and that place of transition where there are growing pains.
Some of those growing pains are hitting home...literally. I decided recently to move out the two twin beds I had set up for my "children to come" bedroom so we could make it into a temporary office space. When the reality of what that indicated hit me, it stung.
See, when my husband and I moved into this new home, we (or I) decided that one of the extra bedrooms should be set up as a prophetic act that soon we would have kids. You know, the build it and they will come idea... and I fully believed in this act of faith. I have even been saving precious little dresses and boys clothes in this room's closet as I come across them. I just knew that one day soon God would call us to adopt a sibling group or that I would get pregnant and I wanted to show God that I was ready and prepared and our hearts were open.
However, it's not looking like this was God's plan for our lives yet. Right now, He is blessing Visiting Orphans and this home, which is His home to do what He wills with it. So, the act of moving out the baby and child furniture to make room for the growth of Visiting Orphans is very bittersweet.
I think laying down our lives for that of the Lord, looks different to everyone. I laid down my desire to be a mom when I was in my twenties. I remember literally dying to it, straightening my posture again and accepting with hope and promise what God would have for me. He led me into the corporate workforce where I was trained and prepared for what I am finally doing today. I wasn't married until I was 36 years old and there wasn't one day that went by that I didn't desire a family. Now that I'm married, that desire is even greater. So everyday I have to lay that down and choose to TRUST Him. To trust that He is good when my flesh wants to think He is just mean and selfish. To trust that He has my best intention in mind...when reality sometimes suggests otherwise. To trust that one day I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
I share all of this, because I want you to know me. I am not a woman who has it all figured out. Who is greatly blessed because I have a full time career in orphan ministry. Dont' get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do and I am indeed blessed on every side. I am as Pastor Isaac from Uganda puts it, "a mother to the world". I told someone recently and I promise I'm going to make a t-shrit that says this...but I feel like I am pregnant with "multi-millions". Everyday I go to bed with hundreds of faces in my head from orphanages I have visited...Rosalyn, Daniela and Naomi in Haiti, Faida and Norbert in Gulu, Adongo in Jinja, Ababa in Ethiopia, Aracely in Costa Rica and many other nameless faces which in time and circumstances I have lost over my life. I pray for them, I desire them to each be here with me. The sad thing about each one I just mentioned is that they are "unadoptable" by whomever deems such things. So, I labor and carry them in my heart and in prayer. I hope I am truly "mothering" them in the Spirit.
But isn't it funny that I would lay all of this down in an instant if God gave me my own family. Maybe God knows this...He's quite smarter than we think! :) So, He waits and tarries...and I choose to love and trust Him. I know one day I will indeed be a mom to some of the most amazing chidren I could have ever imagined. I look forward to that day and in the meantime, I will throw this longing and energy into saving the millions of children, who like me, do not have a family and long for that which they are at the mercy of God to give them.
"Thank you Lord that my lot in life is what it is...thank you that this pain helps me to relate to the pain of an orphan. The longing they have to be loved by a mom and dad. The longing that I have to love my own child. May you infuse that longing and make it Yours. I pray you would fill it up and radically use it to make a dent in this unruly population of orphans. Don't let me forget this longing and this pain...use it for Your glory. Better is one day in your courts, LORD, than a thousand elsewhere. I'd rather be right in the center of your will than anywhere else or in any other situation. I love you...."
The following blog was written by Frank Pass, the leader of our Chifeng, China team which just returned. It's so convicting!
Then those “sheep” are going to say, “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?” Then the King will say, “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)
We had been in China for 7 days and it was day 5 of our time at the Chifeng Social Welfare Institute. This facility is primarily a special needs orphanage and we had been able to love on some very precious children. We had been there long enough that we knew them and they knew us and bonds were beginning to form. We definitely had developed a deep love for these kids.
For our morning devotional I read to our team from an article on “gendercide” in China. Gendercide is a term that has been coined to describe the practice of selective abortion based on the sex of the child. For years China has had a “one child” policy designed to stem overpopulation. This policy has led not only to the practice mentioned above but also to a deluge of girls being left in orphanages. In China a boy child will care for his family while a girl will become a part of the family of her husband. For this reason boys are much more valued as children.
As I read this article I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness. How could I make a difference in the face of such huge numbers? Regardless of what I do, millions of babies will still be aborted and millions of children will still be orphaned. It was with this sense of despair that I led our team to the orphanage that day.
It was a Monday. We had been at the orphanage since Thursday. The Chifeng SWI has about 100 children under their care. About half of these kids are “healthy” school age children who attend class at the orphanage but are cared for in foster homes. Most of the children who live at the orphanage have some pretty severe special needs. Over the weekend we had primarily been with the school children so it had been 2 days since we had been with the special needs kids.
When we arrived at the door of their room they screamed and ran to greet us. Their faces were alive with joy. They were so happy to see us and it was in that moment that a truth that I knew in my head, a truth that I had shared with our team, became alive and real to me. I could not make a difference in the lives of millions of children but I could make a difference in the lives of these kids.
Some people use the plight of children as an excuse for a lack of faith. How could a loving God let children suffer? Or maybe they say why should I serve a God that would allow such cruelty to exist? Such an attitude misses the truth about God’s heart for those who suffer. God does not leave orphans in their distress. God does not ignore the suffering of his children. God calls on us, His servants, to minister to those in need. When we let our anger over injustice stop us from serving or when we allow our inability to reach many keep us from reaching one then we have missed out on the calling that God has for us.
There are many ways that we can make a difference in the life of one. Groups like Compassion give us the opportunity to sponsor children, adoption is a real option and not God’s plan B, there are foster care programs in your community and Visiting Orphans sends teams all over the world to care for precious children. Scripture is clear that God cares for the orphan, He has a heart for the least of these and He calls on us to be His hands and His feet to reach out to them. What will you do and what will you say when you stand before the King?
I wanted to bring your attention to this article written about, what they term as "gendercide" in China. My nieces are from China and this pains my heart so much. They are so incredibly precious to my heart. Since China has encouraged and enforced a one child policy for every famiy in China as population control and because girls are so devalued in China, and boys so esteemed, by the year 2020 men will outnumber women by 30 million.
This is why we send mission teams to China...to minister to all the children whose mothers were brave enough to risk giving them life. However, their "lives" are greatly diminished behind four walls where they lanquish with very little love. Our teams go in to breathe life into their desperate souls. We have 4 trips to China this Summer. Each team returns changed forever and even our travel agent, Mike Snyder, tells me that his adopted son, Liu remembers not only our Visiting Orphans team who came to visit him in his orphanage, but also the team member's name who loved on him so much: Zach. Short term mission trips to orphans DO make a difference in an orphan's life. His is living proof. (his picture with Zach is above.)
Here is an article which tells of this awful gendercide in China: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1265068/China-The-worlds-new-superpower-beginning-century-supremacy-alarming-surplus-males.html
We have a team in Chifeng, China right now. My co-worker Autumn Kerr, is there with them. You can read about her time in China here.
Our future teams to China include: Heng Feng: June 4 - June 14 Chaoyang: June 22 - July 3 Chen Zhou & Yongzhou (Hunan Region): July 7 - July 17 Chen Zhou: Sept 8 - Sept 18.
A trend that I see in missions to visit orphans is that almost always the women on the trip out number the men by 3 to 1 or more on some trips. Sometimes we are happy if we even get one man to join our mission teams.
My husband, Simon, has been an amazing asset to Visiting Orphans. He has such a passion for our trips and whenever he leads a team he is able to really influence some wonderful men to join our teams. This was the case with our January 2010 Africa team. There were 11 men out of 30 people, and this was fantastic, but rare. I want you to watch how this trip impacted Jesse Lee and Daniel Locke on this trip.
Jesse actually joined this trip independently from Simon's influence. He was so impacted that he is now leading our June 2010 trip. Hear straight from his mouth on this video interview why men are so crucial and needed on our teams to reach out to the orphans..(you will need to turn the music off on the player on the right side bar)
Daniel was a friend of ours who couldn't wait to go to Africa and has such a heart for the orphans. Daniel personally crafted collapsable full size soccer nets out of PCV pipes so he could travel with them. You can imagine the kids reactions when they saw him pulling these out of his bag and putting them together. These men are examples of the Father's heart to these children who have no fathers.
Most orphanages have plenty of women care takers but very few men on staff who ever interact with the children. So, the young boys and girls grow up rarely knowing the love of a father. This is especially true in China. If you are a man reading this post, I pray you would feel that desire in your chest to go and would understand that that is the Holy Spirit speaking to you and beckoning you to come...
p.s. There are still a few spots left on Jesse's team to Africa. You can find out more here. We need men on all our teams though..not just Africa. Join my husband Simon on our trip to Ecuador from May 22nd to May 29th. You can find out more about this trip here.
Follow along as I take this mission seriously and minister to the orphans in this world.
Visiting Orphans...It pretty much speaks for itself. Our lives are made to give away to others and I love it that helping orphans is pure and undefiled religion! Follow along as I take God seriously about this mission and minister to the orphans in this world. He is constantly at work in our lives..we just sometimes have to shift our perspective to notice Him. I pray you will hopefully see Him in the words and pictures below..through my perspective.
This blogpage follows the mission trips I lead to minister to orphans in this world. I am the Executive Director of a mission sending agency called Visiting Orphans. (www.visitingorphans.org) I believe my mission in life is similar to the President of Compassion International, Dr. Wes Stafford. In his book, "Too Small to Ignore" he says, "On one side of this international bridge, my role is to minister to the poor, to the orphans, to "comfort the afflicted." And then I cross the bridge, coming back to the Western, more affluent world, where my job is to speak and write and to "affict the comfortable" to call them to action." Loving people on both sides of the spectrum...
I pray that something in my words or pictures will inspire you to reach out beyond yourself...to GO and help the "least of these".