Kari Gibson, one of our team leader's extraordinaire is giving away two free mission trips to Ethiopia! Just purchase one of her awesome orphan advocate t-shirts and you will immediately be entered into her give away drawing. You can find out more here on her blog.
The last two nights have brought me little sleep and it's not because this is the hottest country I've ever visited, so hot that in fact, when you lay down at night, you need no bed covers and no clothes if you can help it!
My lack of sleep is due to the questions and concerns rolling around in my head after these last two days visiting Haiti. The main reason four of us descended onto Haiti for only one full day this week was to visit an orphanage with seriously some of the most precious children I've ever met. We sat with the landlord of the orphanage, the orphanage director, and the two powerful women that ran the orphanage. I want to tell you about this meeting and all that came out of it, but there is another orphanage visit that was "impromptu" which is the one that kept me awake last night praying and crying out to God..."How in the world can we help them?" as I fought against all kinds of feelings of being overwhelmed and feeling so small against needs that are so big.
We visited an orphanage called Well Being. This orphanage has about 25 orphans. They had a home, but the earthquake destroyed it. Thankfully no one was hurt in it though. However, since they now have no building to live in, they are living in a Unicef tent in the back yard of an amazing friend to the orphanage director. That's difficult, right? Just the fact that these orphans and director have no house...Now, imagine that this orphanage director has diabetes and in April, she stepped on a large nail, but due to her diabetes did not even feel it. She did the best she could to bandage it, but as she walked around in the Haitian dirt daily, caring for the orphans, her wound became infected and developed gangrene. So what did they do? I guess what they had to do, cut off her foot and calf. So, now she's an amputee and some how still has to care for the 25 orphans she was previously carrying for. She is fighting depression, despair and hopelessness.
The home that is caring for them has well water. the well is just this huge 30 foot hole, with no walls around it. They have to lift a bucket of water to bring up the water. They said that many of the children are getting sick and they fear it's the water and that once one child almost fell in. I almost fell in just standing and looking over it! Thankfully "Feed the Poor" is giving them enough beans and rice every two months to feed them. However, all their other needs are not being met...and they are asking me, little ole' me, to please buy the field next door so they can some how have a house one day! There were so many other needs I'm not mentioning.
But this is what is keeping me up at night. I laid awake wondering and asking God, "Who can provide a prosthetic leg for this orphanage director and how can we fit her with it?!" Only GOD can provide this divine connection. I've seen and heard about stories where He's done this and I know He is not a respecter of persons, so what He did for one amputee, I have to believe He WILL do for another one.
Visiting Orphans teams can help bring supplies, build a wall around their well, and bring love to meet their basic immediate needs, but that's where we look to churches to partner with orphanages like these. VO is only the connector. We have no other funds to help in cases like these. We can't do it without the churches...Do you know a church which might want to "adopt" this orphanage?
This was the chapter of the Word that kept swirling around in my head as I thought about all of this.. James 1: 22-24 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:27 to visit and care for orphans follows directly after. So, how can I see what I have seen and know that the Word of God says to care for the orphans and walk away and not do anything?! I am now responsible....But I know God has not only called me, but the whole body of Christ. So, I will walk confidently in the fact, that God finishes what He starts. He will not forsake this orphanage director. He will some how connect us with the right person to fit her with a prosthetic and maybe, hopefully, move on the leadership of a church to help for their long term needs and to give them a home.
Our friend and team leader extraordinaire, Kari Gibson is having a great give-away on her team traveling with Visiting Orphans to Ethiopia in February. See the details on her blog here. Check out her video below as well:
I attended the Together for Adoption conference this past weekend in Austin. I love orphan care conferences...Well, most of the time.
I compare them to mission trips...at first you are timid, yet excited to go. Then, you get there, you become emotionally overwhelmed, but you always return home more fired up to help end this orphan crisis then when you arrived!
I met many people I have only met through Facebook or email and got to network for the sake of the orphan like you would not believe! The first day for me was very emotional and heavy as each presenter and break out session brought me back to the center of the heart of why I am doing what I'm doing. They reminded me with overwhelming statistics and thankfully, God's word. But they also provided solutions, ideas and equipping.
One speaker was from Colorado and started the Project 127 movement which helped get about 400 orphaned children in America into Christian foster homes and out of the "system". He was by far my favorite.
Here was an awesome revelation he shared with us:
If God is the Father to the fatherless, then there must be a mother to the fatherless. Who then is the mother to the fatherless? Well, that would be the Bride of Christ, the Church. So, God also must be a Husband. He is OUR Husband. As His bride, when we doubt that He'll provide for His children, the orphans, we essentially call Him a "Deadbeat Dad"! Can you imagine calling God, our Husband, a "Deadbeat Dad"?! Yet, we do it every time we start an adoption or sign up for a mission trip to visit orphans and start doubting that He will provide the finances we need!
This was SO convicting to me.
Simon and I are getting ready to start our adoption process!!! YAY! And even though I've been in orphan care and adoption for years, when it hit home, literally, both of us began to doubt but Simon, as the husband and provider really struggled at first.
See, Simon works at the Dave Ramsey office. As you may know, Dave Ramsey believes in 3 months worth of a salary being saved for an "emergency". Although this is very wise, it seems to lack faith and a dependence on God, in my opinion. I believe there are always exceptions to this "rule". Also, once I had a couple visit me when I was working at an adoption agency and they told me that they had been saving up 3 months of their emergency fund according to this plan. However, they now wanted to adopt and didn't know if they should take this "emergency" fund to do so. My response was, "Is 147 million orphans not an emergency? Is your wife's longing for a child not more important that an "emergency" fund?" I realize this is a controversial subject and many people who travel on our trips are diligently trying to get out of debt, as are we! But I think there is a balance between faith and fear when it comes to fundraising for the care of an orphan.
Simon's fear was that we may have to dip into our emergency fund (which I have to tell you is NO where near 3 months salary) if we get close to the completion of our adoption and don't have the last few dollars needed to bring our child home. But isn't that an emergency? Gwen Oatsvall of 147 Million Orphans stated it beautifully when she said, 'we like to view it as a ransom". If your child is being held captive by an enemy, would you do everything you could to find the money to pay their ransom?! Or would you hold tightly to all your savings and allow them to languish in the paws of the enemy?!" NO! You would sell absolutely everything you had, you would lose it all for this child to be home in your loving arms. It's what Christ did for us, isn't it?! He laid down His life, lost it ALL, paying our ransom, so we could be adopted into His Kingdom and be free from the claws of the evil one who held us captive in sin and death.
With this reminder, let's walk out in faith, believing that God HAS called us through James 1:27 to VISIT (care for) orphans in their distress. He's not a deadbeat dad. He's a faithful Husband to His bride and Father to the children He has called us to. We can believe that He will provide.
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".