Saturday, November 05, 2011


Note: I started writing this blog when my new baby Jordan was 2 weeks old. He is now 8 weeks old.

I was searching for a word today to describe the way I have felt since the birth of our baby boy two weeks ago and I think I have found it.
Pulverized: to defeat or render helpless. To demolish or crush completely. To reduce to powder or dust.

The experience of his birth and the love that has overcome me for this little human being has done just that. Pulverized me. I feel like the Israelites when they finally arrived and habitated the Promised Land. Every day feels like a dream... I feel helpless under the weight of this love for my baby Jordan and for and from the Lord. Totally helpless in the fact, that no matter how hard I try, at the end of the day, our beautiful Savior is the one who holds him. Who sustains and protects him.

I had a moment I will never forget as long as I live. We had Jordan on October 20th at 4 AM. That evening after no sleep in 48 hours, we decided to put him in the hospital nursery so we could get some sleep. I woke up completely awake at 5 AM the next morning. Simon, my husband was still asleep on the cot next to me, so I decided to just walk down to the nursery to see our baby. When I arrived, there were many babies all in individual little portable bassinettes. Probably thirty or so and I did not know where Jordan was. A sweet young nurse, named Kristin, asked me who my baby was and led me to Jordan.

When I saw him, he was the only baby who was awake. He was lying there all tightly swaddled like all the other babies, with only his little face showing and he was just looking all around. And overwhelming sense of awareness enveloped me...He has SO much trust. He could be left right there, with no one taking care of him and there is nothing he could do. And I was overwhelmed with the knowledge of how vulnerable he is. I also immediately recalled my knowledge of what orphanages are like in China. How they have SO many babies in all these beds and they are just, for the most part left alone.. I thought of all the babies who are totally abandoned, how completely dependent in every sense of the word for us to care for them. Each orphan that is found and taken in is a miracle. One only God could orchestrate. How easily they can be forgotten, missed and looked over.

I asked Kristen, the nurse to forgive me as I was obviously having a moment. I was crying and couldn't stop. She was so full of grace and led me and Jordan to the nearby rocking chair. I just sat rocking him, having my moment with the Lord...processing all that had happened through our labor and our story to get here. I waited 39 years for a child, for a promise to come to cross our River Jordan and arrive in our Promised Land.

I Samuel 1:27: I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testimonial Tuesday: INDIA

Frances, our recent team member to India shares with us the impact this trip has made on her. Her favorite memory? All the love from the children!!!

Can't wait to send out another team to India soon!!! (Hopefully I'll be on the next one). Wonder how many trips you can take a new baby on? ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Controversy - Part One

This blog post has been rolling around in my heart and mind for a few months now. Ever had a topic that meant so so much to you, that to try and put it on paper seems almost to hurt or just exhausts you? In order to do so, it means delving into the deepest parts of your heart to pull out and wrestle your emotions and thoughts so they are more simple and clear…so you can share and finally communicate them with others.

Well, this blog post is one of those.

When I have strong feelings like this, I tend to avoid the conversations that elicit them. I hate defending the way I think or feel or ever trying to convince others of anything. I like to leave that job up to God. Let Him be the Defender. Let Him convince or change others to see things the way He does. I don’t want to enter into arguments or competition.

This blog post though is about the controversy that seems to be erupting and even being fueled by other Christians regarding short term missions to “visit orphans”.

My very first response to this when it started happening was, “Obviously they truly do not know the scriptures or this would not be a controversy. They would not be questioning it. They would know the answers to the questions they are naively putting out there which are causing others who don’t know scripture to respond and react to.”

Yes, we can all know scripture…but do you take the time to really dive deep into them. Have you used a concordance and dissected a scripture that is on your heart? That is one of my favorite things to do as just about always God will reveal SO much through this time of research.

So let’s dissect James 1:27 together in this way. Most of us reading this blog post knows what it “says” already on the surface. We’ve memorized it. Here is what it says at deeper layers:

Vis-it (1980) (episkeptomai - see study of episkopeo from epĂ­ = upon or intensifying already existing idea in verb + skopeo = regard, give attention to, look at, contemplate) literally means to look upon, to GO to see, to examine closely, to inspect, to examine the state of affairs of something, to look after or to oversee. The idea of visiting is more than just making a social call.

As Hiebert writes...
In classical Greek, it was commonly used of visiting the sick, whether by a doctor or a friend.' In Jewish usage, it commonly denoted to visit with the aim of caring for and supplying the needs of those visited (Job 2:11; Jer. 23:2; Ezek. 34:11; Zech. 11:16; Mt. 25:36, 43). The term implies concern and personal contact with the needy; it involves more than a matter of charity by proxy.

This verb expresses careful regard of those in position of responsibility. It depicts one going to see another with the intent to render help. In some context it means to have regard for, care for or be concerned about (Acts 15:14, He 2:6-note). It is often used of visiting the sick. In the Septuagint it speaks of a visitation from God, most often a visitation for good.

So, when God inspired James to write this, He was using the word, “episkeptomai” which means SO much more than just our word Visit. In English the word “visit” sounds like we are just coming to see a friend, have coffee, hang out for awhile. That is NOT what James means. He means to search out, find, meet those in distress (and in this case he means orphans and widows), talk to them, find out their needs and pains AND DO something about them!!

Short term mission trips to visit orphans, like we do at Visiting Orphans are intended to do just that. Our staff at VO prays…asking God to show us those ministries on the other side of the world, orphanages, hurting communities which are hidden. Which need to be found and visited so that we can see what they need and with future teams, come back to make a difference. This difference can be made by future teams bringing donations or financial help, or what I love even more is when a past team member visits those in distress and feels a call from God DUE to that visit and sacrifices current comforts to go help them long term. Or, they return home to adopt a child, or they return home and help promote a cause so that more sponsorships can happen for those in distress.

So, WHAT is the controversy all about? When you ask God … are short term trips really Your will? Will I really make a difference visiting an orphan? You now KNOW that scripture is defining this for you. God is saying, “YES”. Go….VISIT an orphan… Be my hands and feet to them here on earth. Find them, meet them, “check in” on them and make a difference in their lives.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial from a Father & Son Team!!!

Tune in today as we have a live action testimony from Africa with Mark & Luke Vandruff on the Man Up trip...Complete with our News Reporter Extraordinaire, Amanda Herdina and Music DJ, Chloe Jordan!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Enter Into His Labor

I was inspired yesterday to write a blog today on Labor Day by my wonderful pastor, Steve Garrett at our home church, New River Fellowship.

Our staff at Visiting Orphans has had a heavy heart this Fall season. Maybe not everyone as much as me since I oversee everything, but what has been difficult is watching as trip after trip was cancelled this Fall season due to lack of interest while our Summer 2012 trips and December 2011 trips fill up with waiting lists. Sure, we know all the reasons. We understand that everyone is heading back to school and most are focused on this time of their personal lives or family's life. However, it still burdens us as we know how much these children need each one of us.

Autumn or Fall is my favorite time of year. I purposely got married in October for this reason and now God will be blessing us with the birth of our first child in the Fall as well. I love the new crisp chillier weather and the falling leaves and wind. But I also love how this season is considered the Harvest season. Recently I read this blog post entitled "When Visiting Is Enough". The author of this blog explained how one visit to a child can indeed change their life. If you are willing to go, obey and be used, God can use YOU to plant a seed in that child's life. Yes, it can be excruciating to then leave, walk away, not knowing what will happen to that child. But for this particular blogger, years later she was able to actually see what happened to the seed she planted!

As she returned to Russia, to the same village where she told this little girl about Christ, she found out that this little girl, through the help of ANOTHER christian in Russia had and was still being discipled! She had aged out of this orphanage but was now living with the hope of Christ.

So yesterday while I was worshipping the Lord spoke to me and said, this is the Harvest season. If my workers would just GO, they could be the ones to bring in the HARVEST of those who went on all the Visiting Orphans' Summer trips. Those who planted the seeds. The ones traveling this Fall season will be used by God to continue watering these seeds, bringing in the harvest. He wants us to participate in what Jesus has already started in these children's lives through others.

Do you think that investing in ONE child's life makes a difference? Jesus thinks so. When Jesus walked the earth, He was here to die in our place. He has SO much to be concerned about each day and moment. Much like we do this Fall season. However, in John 4, Jesus chose to speak to ONE Samaritan woman. The jews considered the Samaritans lesser than themselves, yet He esteemed her. So she had an ENCOUNTER with the one true Messiah. And through this one woman's changed life and testimony many her in town also chose to believe in Him. (John 4: 39). With all the cares in this sinful world, Jesus chose to spend 10 minutes in conversation with this woman. He chose her. One person and her life changed MANY. Her encounter with Christ reaped a harvest.

"Do you not say "Four months more and then the harvest? (Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec) I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!! THEY ARE RIPE FOR HARVEST. " Even NOW the reaper draws his wages, even NOW he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together! Thus the saying, "One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor". John 4:34-38.

Don't you just love God's word?! We just need you to GO this Fall season.. Please enter into His true labor this Labor Day and choose to change the life of one orphan, one child, and bring in the harvest. That's what this season is about. Let your feasting this holiday season be to do the will of the one who sent Him.

"My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of Him who sent me and to FINISH His work."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Man Up & Dance!!!! Seriously...

As our new Tuesday Testimonial, we just thought we'd follow up on the last one we posted. Stephen Elder, one of the Man Up team members was talking about his skills with dancing in Uganda. I bet you didn't believe him, so we decided to show you!

Honestly though, I can't think of anything more incredible or amazing then dancing with orphans. I know it's as close as heaven you can get..They are the most precious children the Lord's sight and in mine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial! How to Man Up!

Our Executive Assistant, Amanda Herdina interviews two Man Uppers in Uganda on how their trip has impacted them:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

India as per JohnnySwim...

Our Artist Partners, JohnnySwim (Abner & Amanda Ramirez) would like to share about their upcoming trip to India below. We hope you will join us! You can find out more about this trip here.

The first thing I had to assure my wife about our upcoming trip to India was that the people there DO NOT burn their poop in the streets. This was very important information for her.

India exudes a majesty I have never forgotten, and my wife, Amanda, has had to endure years of my monologued fascination of the sights, sounds and experiences of my first, and only trip. However, somewhere in my all my storytelling, she combined two stories in her mind: one of me seeing someone poop on a public street and another of the smell of burning trash… this led to the afore mentioned fear of bathroom etiquette in India. That fear has now been assuaged.

It was the summer of 2004 when I visited some remote regions in Northeast India. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, our team served in orphanages and played concerts with the children of the local villages. The kindness I felt in serving proved to me yet again that giving is better than receiving. As is true in so many cases, I went to India to give and found I was the one receiving most. I've never forgotten the faces, the food, the smells, or the smiles from that 10 day trip, and I cant possibly begin to explain the excitement in being able to return to India now 7 years later accompanied by my wife and an awesome team from Visiting Orphans to serve, to give, and to love on those who often feel forgotten; to let them know there is so much love for them and that the love that is in them to give can change the world. How would we know to love if we were not first loved? None of us are orphans in the Kingdom of God. I challenge you to come with us for 10 days in India, this September (yep, THIS september) and see the course of your life changed for the better; to give of your heart so freely that to expect any return would be vain; to give the hope that can only be given in an embrace and to see the miracle that is belief occur before your eyes. This life is good, and the best parts of it are what you give away.

And trust me… no one will burn their poop in the street. (At least i hope not.)

-Abner Ramirez

Monday, August 08, 2011

What Is A "Man Upper"?!

If you are a friend of Visiting Orphans or me on Facebook then I'm sure this is the question you are asking! "What is a Man Upper?!" Currently through the wonderful partnership with our awesome team leader, Roger Gibson, we sent out a team to Ethiopia and Uganda with the whole concept of Manning Up for the orphans...

As Roger and his wife Kari would get together with me and my husband, Simon, one thing we would discuss at length was the trend we saw in our Visiting Orphans teams. Just about all our teams had about 80 to 90% women as team members, with little to no representation of men to be found on these teams. Now, us women are more than happy to REPRESENT in this way, but it saddened and grieved our hearts as it seemed men were just not "getting it"!

We understood that when you think perhaps of visiting an orphan that you think of holding and cuddling babies, and that's it. But the majority of Christian men were not realizing how many young boys and teenage men were orphans in this world! And yes, they loved being visited by women, but oh, how their hearts LONGED to be known by men. How they wanted to be recognized, known, and remembered by men who visited. Most of our trips...I would say 90% of them spend time with these boys, not babies. The babies need us too, yes, but it's those children who are stuck in the system who really need us..and these are the ones this blog post is specifically addressing.

At one facility we partner with in Kampala, Uganda there are usually 200 children there and only seventeen or so of them are girls! The facility is the children's prison which the ministry of Sixty Feet is actively trying to help. All these street boys who get picked up for minor offenses, or none at all...stuck for days behind bars...sometimes for weeks in solitary confinement, only because they are homeless and without a family...

So, our response was to send out a team targeted specifically towards men and it WORKED! We sent out a team of 38 people, 80% which are men to Uganda and Ethiopia this Summer. In fact, they are still in Ethiopia as I write...

At the children's prison in Uganda, these boys got to come out of their bars for hours and SCHOOL our American men in Soccer (futball). :) They learned how to play basketball from Dude Perfect. They worshipped without abandon and taught our men how to do the same! This is the Abba Heart of does this sound like a boring mission trip which is totally out of a man's comfort zone?! No...this is the heart of a man!!!

So, we have another Man Up trip planned next Summer and we plan to send another one in the Spring. But what I want men to remember is that we need them on ALL our trips. That's the point of this whole concept. To Man Up and love the fatherless... to be God's hands and feet as He shows how to be a Abba Father to them. Our other teams need you more than our Man Up teams do. Our goal is to see all our teams with an even ratio of men and women of God serving together. Our God is both male and female...and we are in His image. We need to serve together to be a complete representation of Him.

Please think about signing up next year for one of our trips, ESPECIALLY if you are a man and you "get it"! Join with us as a Man Upper and love on these orphans as only a man can do!

p.s. All photos are copyrighted by Wynne Trippet Elder, 2011.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Testimony from the Great Wall of China!

This week our Tuesday Testimonial is obviously belated. Sorry about that! We were waiting for our Chifeng, China team to get back so we could upload their video. Here is team member, Christine McNeal, talking about her time visiting orphans in China and how going back year after year makes the biggest difference in their lives! And the cool thing is that she is hiking the Great Wall of China as she gives this message! I love how she is so winded and out of breath as she shares with us. :) We hope you will be inspired to love on the orphans in China with us next Summer!

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Conflict

It's been a few weeks since I've personally blogged. I've really wrestled with what to say. I feel so conflicted these days...I have always advocated for adoption and orphan care - it's been my calling and career for the last 10 years! Yet, here we are, pregnant with our first baby.

This is awesome news of course! But, we were in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and of course, as God would have it, we finally became pregnant! Honestly, I couldn't believe my emotions at first. They were so contradictory to what I thought they would have been. I wasn't that excited. I just felt shocked, overwhelmed, scared and mostly...sad. Why was I sad? I knew it was because the little girl I had seen in all the photos might now not get to go home to us.

Still today, at almost 7 months pregnant, I wonder...will she ever become a part of our family or will we continue to give birth to more and more children? I am now VERY happy to be pregnant and cannot wait to meet this little man, but my hope diminishes daily for bringing her home. Mainly b/c nothing is happening with her case in Ethiopia any way, but we could STILL adopt another child...right? But at 39 years old, you can't wait too long if you do want to have birth where is my place in this calling? How do I walk it out? Where is my voice?

All these thoughts and emotions make me feel like my word or my thoughts aren't as important and I feel like a hypocrite. I so burn for the orphans and sending out God's people to care for them and I so celebrate every adoption I hear about, yet, I CAN'T travel to visit the orphan OR adopt right now!!!! Am I a hypocrite? Will people judge me and think I'm not walking out what I am preaching?

I was wearing our "Visit" t-shirt the other day at Starbucks. A sweet woman who was standing behind me in line came up to me and said, "I think it is SO neat that you are wearing that shirt about orphans, yet you are pregnant." I'm sure I looked totally shocked and perplexed as I didn't get it at first...but then slowly she started explaining. "Well, it's just so neat that are expecting your own child yet still advocating and not forgetting the orphan." She had no idea how much she encouraged me! I wish I had written down her contact information just so I could thank her for those words.

So, as I enjoy this long awaited season in my life..this yearning to finally bear a child and be a mom, I pray you will understand my heart. A calling is irrevocable. It is what it is. Just know that each trip I send out, I wish I was on...Each day I think about the little girl who might possibly be in our home one day IF we receive a miracle. Yet all the while, I am celebrating these days and looking forward to welcoming Jordan Robert into his forever family! In the meantime, I get to continue to do the background work - sending out the most amazing people of God to love and care for the orphans. I had my time - now it's YOURS!.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Eritrea to Ethiopia.. Meet our VO Intern!

Here is our second Testimonial Tuesday video installment. We want each of you to meet Rahwa Mehari, our Visiting Orphans Intern. Rahwa is from Eritrea and speaks fluent Amheric. We have been so blessed to get to work with her daily and we sent her this Summer to visit orphans in Ethiopia. Listen to how her trip impacted her!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Talking About Titles

I wanted to share this funny blog with you!!! I love it! This young man "Will" whom I never met, totally gets it and even though he's never traveled with us, explains why we are named Visiting Orphans! :)

Talking About Titles

Monday, July 18, 2011


We are starting a GREAT new tradition at Visiting Orphans: TESTIMONY TUESDAY!

Each Tuesday we will submit short video testimonies from different Visiting Orphans mission trip team members. Each one will be unique and will showcase a different country program. We hope by doing this you will get to see how wonderful ministering to orphans can be and even possibly challenge you to go to another country that you might not have considered otherwise.

To start off this awesome new tradition, we begin with Costa Rica! Big T (aka Gwen Kirby) and Little T (aka Gabriela Mastin) will share with you just why they traveled to Costa Rica to love on orphans. You'll also hear them plug our South and Central America Mission Trip Coordinator, Casi Mattox and of course, Visiting Orphans.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

One Orphan to Another...

One thing I love about working at Visiting Orphans is receiving testimonies from our team members. This one particularly impacted me as she was a foster child and is now on her way to loving on orphans in Africa. You will be SO blessed if you take the time to read her story and If you feel moved at all after reading her powerful testimony to donate to her trip, you can do so on our Donation page here. She doesn't have a lot of Christians in her life yet who understand mission trips or the need to go and visit orphans, so she is having a hard time raising her funds. So we ask you to please consider her as I KNOW God will use her greatly as He uses the ashes of her life to bring beauty out of herself and others...

Hi everyone, you don't know me, but my name is Amanda Zerkle and im currently trying to raise the money to go on the August mission trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda. I have recently found my faith and decided to give my life to God on October 14th, 2010. It was the best and worst day of my life, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Here is my testimonial, which I have never done, but am hoping that you can understand what I went through and how hard of a battle spiritually, physically, and psychologically it was for me.

A little about me....I had a very rough upbringing in that my mother was very abusive and a very bad drug addict/alcoholic. I have two brothers who also had to go through this with me which was a very difficult situation. My mother sold anything and everything we had(including food and clothing) for her drugs. She took us on all her drug runs and one time even almost killed us by almost driving drunk off a cliff. She constantly took her anger out on us and it was always a new item to hurt us with, whether it included: knives, bats, pots and pans, or just a plain belt. At one point I watched her stab my older brother in the leg after she had punched my little brother in the face. When I was five I was molested by one of my mothers friends boys, but because my mother was too drunk, when she walked in on it she walked right back out. I just never really knew her sober, which breaks my heart to this day. Cps finally came in and told us we had to live with the father or they would remove us completely. The last words I remember saying to my mom was, "I hate you." When I was seven years old I was informed that my mother had died, but never honestly informed how. My oldest brother, Bo, went to live with my aunt and uncle in Washington state and my little brother, Bj, and I went to live with "our dad". I say "our dad" because for eight years of my life that's what I knew him as, but truth was he wasn't my dad. After my mother died at the age of seven I began to act out. Getting kicked out of school after school after school. I was making myself throw up, hurting my pets, and starting fires in my house. At one point I was jumping on Bj's stomach and while he was turning blue I just laughed. I was stuck in counseling and went through counselor after counselor and put on meds after meds.I was constantly questioning my mothers death as nobody ever really told me how she died just that she had died. My "dad" finally told me the truth which was more painful that any child could ever experience. After CPS came in and told us that we had to find other means of a living situation and we moved with "our dad", mom went to live with a man she had met through AA. He explained to her she could live there and exchange for rent, do chores and take care of the farm, but no drugs or alcohol was allowed. My mother took that opportunity with open arms, but soon realized she couldn't handle it. Trying to come off of drugs and alcohol and not being able to see her kids was too much for her to handle. The man came back and my mother was lying on the floor dead, gun next to her. My mother committed suicide on November 26, 1995, at the age of 32. Between what was going on and the questioning my "dad" decided he couldn't take it anymore and there was no way I was his kid so he had a blood test done. After he found out that I wasn't his real kid he handed me over to the State of California, I became award of the court. I bounced around from foster care, to shelter, to group home, one after the other. Constantly getting in trouble and continuously making myself sick. Not only had I just lost my mother and got separated from my older brother, I then found out the guy I had known for eight years of my life to be my dad wasn't. Then, on top of that I was separated from my little brother, and not able to see any of my family. Bounced around and tossed around like a ping pong ball nobody cared about. It was the hardest years of my life and I wouldn't go back for anything.

Finally, when I was 11 my aunt and uncle were down visiting and I got to see them!!!! I begged and pleaded, and cried for them to take me back and adopt me. So after a lot of paperwork and a lot of decisions, it was decided that I would be getting adopted and moving to Washington State with them!!!! I was so excited to get out of the system, but still so lost as I was still mourning over the loss of my mother. There were so many trials, tribulations, and button pushing going on it was absurd. I had never really had the chance to be a kid, so I didn't know how to act or react to situations such as birthdays, Christmas, or even the 4th of July. School was going a little better, but once I started high school things just kind of went downhill. I began drinking at the age of 14, along with smoking weed. Since I had an older brother, I hung out with an older crowd. After all, my brother was my best friend and the only one that I knew I could really trust. I was good at school so my school work was always done and on time, but in my spare time all I wanted to do was drink. I ran away, got in fights, got in trouble with the law, and went through so many friends. Things at home weren't going good at all as my parents weren't getting along and the way they handled it was drinking, which made it that much harder on me. At the age of 15, i tried to commit suicide. I took a whole bottle of extra strength Tylenol and out of panic ran to tell my parents what I had just done. They didn't believe me until I started foaming out of the mouth. From what I can remember, 911 was called and I was rushed to Southwest Hospital. They were trying to pump my stomach as well as getting me to drink charcoal, in hopes that I would throw up the vile. My liver was failing severely and acid was shooting up into my chest, so they then rushed me to Doernbecher's children's hospital and put me in ICU. I was not allowed to be alone at any point in time and was hooked up on so many machines and ivy's than I could imagine. At one point I remember the doctor telling my parent's I wasn't going to make it. I was in ICU for 3 days and by what I as well as everyone else considers a miracle everything turned around. My vitals were looking up, the acid stopped, and my liver started to heal itself. I was then put in a psych ward for a week and told that I was not allowed to drink. After I got out and returned to school, nobody looked at me the same. Everyone was asking me if I was okay, if I needed anything, and what the could do. I WAS FINE!!!! Or so I thought. The rest of my High School was kind of a blur as it just zoomed on by and all I can truly remember is focusing on my school work and being depressed.

After I graduated, I moved in with a friend and began drinking and partying again. My family moved to Kansas and I bounced around from friend to friend to friend. Finally, I got a job at a fast food restaurant and got an apartment with one of my high school friends. Since i was drinking and partying all the time I began to get behind in my rent, my car payment, my insurance, and my utilities. All of the money I was making was going to gas, liquor, smokes, and weed. I realized that something needed to be done or I was gonna crash and crash hard. I decided to move to Kansas with my family and try to turn my life around. I moved to Kansas in May of 2008, I was 19. I started working for in the kitchen at a nursing home and got an government-funded apartment. I ended up getting my CNA license and working at the nursing home on the floor. I bought a truck and started working a lot of hours taking time away from being able to do anything else. Work started getting stressful, as dealing with the elderly is not only a physically but an emotionally job as well. All I was doing was working and working, so naturally I started to get back into the party scene. When I turned 21 it was easier for me to get alcohol since I could now buy it, and I cold go to the bars. I then moved from town to town to town as that's where my "friends" were who all partied with me. I could out-drink almost all of the guys or girls I knew so I became the "ONE" to party with. Every night was a party nigh and in the mean time my family started falling apart horribly and there was nothing I could do to stop it. My parents started filing for a divorce and my siblings started acting out. One by one, each one of my siblings tried to commit suicide and I was the one trying to be the strong one. My parents were running to me for advice, my siblings were hurting, work was stressing me out to no return, and I was too hungover and stressed to deal with it. I was letting my "friends" move in with me because their lives were falling apart, but in reality so was mine.

On October 14, 2010 I decided to do something I had NEVER done before and that was turn to God. I never believed in him up until this point, but I had leaned on anything and everything and it hadn't worked. So, I figured why not, what could hurt. I ran up to my pastor's house and his wife answered the door. I starting bawling and telling her I didn't know her, but something bad was about to happen and I needed her help. We talked for probably an hour and by the end of the conversation I had decided to give my life to God. The VERY next day I decided to go out to the bar with a "friend". So many things went wrong from: forgetting my make-up to losing my keys to losing my wallet. All I remember was walking out of the bar. The next day I woke up in jail and was soaking wet from head to toe and not sure why. I flipped out and lit my ticket on fire screaming and fighting jailers for answers. I had no idea what I had done and wanted answers. I had no truck, no phone, no money, no family, and no friends there. Everything I knew and had was gone. I was with a bunch of strangers. I decided to bond myself out, call a friend, and find out what exactly had happened. According to the State Patrolman who had pulled me over. I was found at 2am driving down a main road on the wrong side of the road, on a curb and had stopped suddenly six inches from a telephone pole. I have no recollection of this at all as aparantly I was in a blackout. When they checked my BAC level EIGHT HOURS after I had started drinking it was .199( over double the legal limit)!!!! I had went to 3 bars that night and drove clear across town not hitting anyone or anything. God saved my life AGAIN that night. That was the ONLY explanation I could come up with. I found my truck in impound, slowly but surely paid to get it out and it cost me over $500. Went to court and applied for a diversion (which was granted ) and had to pay about $1400 in fines. I had two classes to attend,got my license taken away for a year, and had to attend 10 AA classes. I then decided I was an alcoholic and needed to quit drinking. I went to God, my church, and my pastor's wife. I knew if I was going to give my life to God, I had to give him EVERYTHING not just part of me. I started going to church, dropped all of my friends, stopped going out, and started focusing on God and I. I asked God to show me where he wanted me to go and what he wanted me to do and asked him to walk with me. After I made that decision I can honestly say it has been a HUGE spiritual battle as Satan is really REALLY trying to destroy what I have accomplished. Through prayer and lots of faith building conversations things slowly started looking up and up. In May of 2011 God lead me to Barclay College( a bible college) in Haviland, Kansas. It seemed the more and more I tried to run from it the more and more I ran into it. I continuously was having meetings with my pastor and his wife and praying praying praying about where God wanted me. When she told me about Africa I instantly felt called to it. Im a nursing assistant and LOVE helping people, so when I get a chance to I go for it!!!

After lots of prayer and conversations with God, I decided to move in May of 2011. I moved to a quaker town where I am surrounded by GOOD CHRISTIAN people and my COLLEGE!!!! I am currently enrolled and start school in August hoping to major in Missions and Nursing. I have two jobs and am NOT drinking OR SMOKING and my faith in God grows more and more each day. I still don't have my license back, but am working on it and I just recently got back from Camp QuakerHaven(which was a blast)!!! I now know that NOTHING is impossible with God. God saved my life not once, not twice, but THREE times. I am more thankful for my life and appreciate it WAY MORE than I EVER have. I'm not saying things are peach pie, but I also know "Facing storms is never easy, but they are inevitable. They will come. However, God doesn't allow storms in our lives just for the sake of them happening. He has a plan, He has a purpose, and through them all He is with us." I am here for a reason and I cannot wait to see what that reason is!!!! GOD IS AMAZING!!!

The toal cost for this trip to Ethiopia and Rwanda is $3400-$3600 and I have already raised $1400. Im coming upon deadlines and although I know that God will never let me down, he does expect me to do my part. Im working sixteen hour shifts and working as much as I can between two jobs that I can(It's a struggle to get there since I don't have a license, so I have to pay somoene for rides). I am asking for your help PLEASE as a friend in Christ for either prayers or donations to my trip. My pastor and his wife are the ones leading it and it is through Visiting Orphans. We will be visiting different orphanages and spreading God's love to everyone, in hopes to make a difference. We leave August 7th and return on the 18th, so as you can see my deadlines are approaching fast and I'm already behind. If you would like to donate to me PLEASE either email me back for further information, or feel free to call me (620)518-1768. Anything helps, and prayers are strongly encouraged and always welcome. God saved my life and made a difference in me, please help me to spread the word and make a difference in someone else's life! Thank you!!!!

In his hands,

Amanda Lee Zerkle

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't You Love it When God Uses You?

Since I am now pregnant and have felt a firm "No" from God when I've asked if I can please keep traveling with our mission teams, I am not able to blog about trips as I usually would...because I am simply not on them. (You have no idea how much this bums me out!)

One of my older blog posts was brought to my attention today by one of our current team members who is headed to Africa for the first time. Doesn't it mean the world to you when something you wrote or said was used by God? Isn't that what many of us search for and hope for? For God to just use us? Well, she posted on her blog today that this previous blog post was what God used to pursue her to GO visit orphans. Maybe God will use this heart breaking experience to break your heart as well, so much so that you too will step out...

I had a couple hours this morning that I could have finally have slept in...yet, I was awoken at 6 AM. As usual, I tried to go back to sleep but as I tried, the memories and realities of our last fourteen days rushed in. I've had no time to process everything as the leader. I'm always "on". Always... but here at the Adonai Hotel which feels like a big hug, thanks to their sweet service and lovely accommodations, I've had some down time and some time alone. We leave tomorrow night so our schedule has slowed down some as I'm trying to be sensitive to the team's emotions and energy which is quickly running out.

As I began processing these last two weeks, I suddenly remembered the news I heard yesterday which, had I been in the privacy of my home and not having to "hold it together" for the team, would have brought me to my knees.

Click HERE to

Friday, June 17, 2011

Visiting Orphans Partnering with Sixty Feet

The cry of our hearts at Visiting Orphans is, "Lord, please send us the children who are hidden. The orphans who have no help. The ministires and orphanages who need us. The children and ministry staff who are crying out to you for help."

Our goal with our teams is to bring awareness to children and ministries who need help. When one of our teams comes in to help then they impart encouragement, love, hope, financial, physical and emotional blessings. We expose the ministry through our team's photos, videos and word of mouth to other individuals who then feel called to help. We call it the ripple effect and it's what is now happening with the "children's prisons" in Uganda through our teams.

An incredible ministry called Sixty Feet first discovered these "children's prisons" and began helping. When I read the stories on their blog about the children in the middle of the night one night, I KNEW God was not going to let me sleep. So the next morning, without sleep, I contacted them via email. Thankfully, I did hear God correctly and Sixty Feet was open to partnering with us. They allowed us to take in a small number of team members from our March team to visit the children first. When they returned home, their stories of their time there and the wonderful insistence of the Sixty Feet In-country Director that we continue bringing teams has now opened the door for this! You can read one March team member's account of her time there here.

We sent our first official Visiting Orphans team in this month. It was led by Kari and Michael Smalley. A brother and sister team whose dad is Gary Smalley. Did Mr. Smalley did a great job of raising his kids or what?!

Here is a letter sent to me this morning by the Incountry Director of Sixty Feet, Moses. (I like to leave the emails with the same spelling and grammar as I received it.)

Thanks Amanda for sending us the team. Kari and Michael really led the team so well. i wish they could come back so soon. This was the first of its kind in this facilities and the kids were so excited to sit and mix with them, the children really experienced the love that we used to tell them about. they sang songs or worship to the kids and praise be to God they always ask me when i will take the team back to visit them. We as the staff of sixty feet were also invited for dinner with the team and i shared my life experience as a person who was in a similar situation and who lost my fathers' house after his death. even now after i have grown and married, but still last few weeks my only inheritance of Land of about 28 hectares is being grabbed away. This is the situation of some of the kids in this facilities in this places and all they need is love and encouragement. visiting orphans team is the exact right persons to help this children experience love because some of the kids in there believe that there none who can care about them but when they see such teams traveling acrose the oceans only to visit such kids then it becomes an avenue for a paradyme shift in their minds.
The team gave us some gifts of clothes, balls and other games and toys were given to each child by the visitors. we then decided to ask for permision from the persons in charge at M so as to distribute the clothes to some kids who really are badly off in terms of clothes The team also gave some money to facilitate activities. thank God we were given that money because on fridays we do not have agenda to go to M but for the love of the kids there all staff were available since it was one of the life changing experiences for the children. In the subsequent staff fellowship which we had the staff were asking of more of such visits since the effect of the visit was real good for the kids.
I am sure the visitors must have sent you pictures . i Loved working with them and really encourage it for it raises the self esteem of this children.
May God bless all the team members who visited with us. May God bless all those who made this possible.
Thank you very much

Our future Uganda teams itinearies will continue to include the children's prisons which Sixty Feet aides. We pray you will feel compelled by our Lord and Savior to leave the comfort of your home to visit these children in prison. Bringing them the love and hope that only Christ can give THROUGH YOU!

Here is an awesome video of our team singing worship songs to the children who are in the isolation cells where the children are locked up for the first 2 weeks after they arrive at the prison. Nowhere to sit...nothing. Just concrete floors and bars. Please continue into the video for more of a close up...

Holy is the Lord God Almighty from Michael Smalley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CD Review: No Double Yellow Line - Cindy Foote

I wanted to share a new CD which was put out by Singer/Songwriter, Cindy Foote (think "Sing to the King" and "You Are My King"). I have met Billy and Cindy Foote and can attest to their hearts. They LOVE God and BURN for the fatherless. As a family, they have adopted a little girl from Ethiopia and a little girl from China. Yet, the cry in their hearts does not stop there. Now Cindy has written an entire album of just songs pertaining to adoption and God's heart for the orphan. The title of the album is "No Double Yellow Line".

My favorite song on this album is "Bring Our Children Home". My co-worker, Autumn Kerr and I just started crying as we listened to it. Both from the same place in our hearts, yet a different yearning. For me, we have a little girl picked out in Ethiopia we are waiting for. We became pregnant as we started her adoption process and bringing her home now has to wait until our first baby is 6 months old. I more than understand our adoption agency's policy, but it's still so hard to know that while I grow a baby in my tummy, she languishes in Ethiopia waiting on the right "timing". I want her home NOW! Autumn cries because she too is waiting on God's perfect timing. She is still single and waiting on all those "pieces" in her life to fall into place, yet she LONGS to be a mother and to bring an orphan home into her forever home.

I can't help but mention an older song that Billy and Cindy had on an older album. It's a rendition of an old hymn called "Rescue the Perishing". This has been one of my favorite songs ever.

I hope you will look up her album. You too will be SO blessed by her music!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Happiest Day of Her Life

Do you wonder if visiting orphans for a week can really make a difference? Let me tell you a story about how spending even a short amount of time with a child can make a difference and give them hope.

While on a Visiting Orphans trip in Honduras last summer, our team passed out some donated clothes to the kids. As we were passing out the clothes one of our team members noticed a girl sitting off to the side. She went up to her and started talking to her. When the girl didn't respond, the "Tia" (nanny) of the house told our team that the girl was deaf. Well, it just so happened that one of our team members was a sign language teacher. She said that sign language was a little different from English to Spanish, but she could at least do some basic communication with her. They spent some time communicating and after a little while the girl told her "this is the happiest day of my life".

The happiest day of her life. All because someone took the time to speak her language (even if it wasn't perfect) and get to know her.

Will you consider joining us in sharing God's love with children that need a glimpse of His hope? We still have spots open on our June Honduras trip!

Go to our website to apply:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Visiting Orphans Needs you in Ukraine this Summer!

VO - Join us as we partner with Touched by Grace
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Join us as we partner with Touched by Grace to visit orphans in Ukraine.
There are 100,000 orphans in Ukraine. Most of these are social orphans which means they have 1 parent who either cannot or will not care for them. Alcoholism, prison, abandonment and neglect have forced these children to live in institutions and to live a life with very little hope. Eastern European orphanages can be very dark places. The conditions and the statistics are sobering and that is why we go - because when we visit orphans, we bring light to the darkness, hope to the hopeless, and most of all a Father to the fatherless.

This August Visiting Orphans will partner with Touched by Grace to visit orphans at the Babynest Orphanage in Ukraine. Babynest houses 130 orphans age 6 and under and Touched by Grace is helping to transform it into a place of joy and love. Our team will do painting and other work to improve the physical condition of the facilities, we will bring in much needed supplies and most of all we have the privilege to be moms and dads and brothers and sisters to children who have none. Through our presence, our time and our touch we will let these precious children know that they are loved, that they are valued and that they have a heavenly Father who loves them.

Won't you join us this August as we visit orphans in Ukraine. Sign up at our website or email Frank Pass for more information

Frank Pass

Mission Trip Coordinator

P.O. Box 668
Nolensville, TN 37135
Phone: 866-683-7554
Fax: 866-683-5087

James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress..."
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Monday, April 18, 2011

When He Doesn't Show Up

This is a post I've been meaning to share for awhile now. I wanted to share such a wonderful time I had with the Lord recently.

Some time in December or January I was really aching to be a mom. I didn't care whether it was biologically or through adoption, but since I was nearing 39 years old, I was really feeling this desire.

It just seemed that biologically things were not cooperating and our adoption just kept progressing and progressing, the wait time increasing and increasing.

I remember as I laid in bed, in that state between awake and sleep, I cried out to God, not understanding why I could not be a mom now. I was sharing with my husband that I was not mad at God. I was hurt by him... If He loved me so much, then of course I expected Him to want to give good things to me as His word says. Yet, he did not seem loving to me. He seemed selfish. He was letting me down, disappointing me and hurting me. I hated feeling this way as I love Him so much and I know the Truth is that He loves me even more than I can imagine.

As I cried out to Him, I thought about a time in the Bible when someone else was deeply disappointed by Jesus. The story of Lazarus.

It starts in John 11:6 where it clearly states, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister and Lazarus...". But then the very next verse does not seem at all to indicate that he loved them, "When He heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two more days in the same place that He was." Now why would Jesus do that?! Common sense tells us that if you love someone and they are sick and you have the power to heal them, that you would RUSH to their side to SAVE them!

And that is exactly the same way Mary saw it! "Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:32) The next verse states that Mary was weeping. She was so hurt, so disappointed, so sad. If God had shown up, Lazarus would have been saved! All Jesus had to do was SHOW UP!

Have you had times like these? Where you have cried out to God to please come through for you? Whether it be to save the baby in your womb, or to hurry up and get your adopted child home, to healing someone you love.

What I love about this story is that after Jesus saw Mary and the other Jews crying and grieving over losing Lazarus, that Jesus was deeply troubled as well and wept. But Jesus did not weep because Lazarus was dead. He knew Lazarus was going to live again in just a few minutes. No, He wept because those He loved wept. It says in God's word that Jesus ONLY does what God, His Father, instructs Him to do. He CANNOT do anything that is not in His Father's will. I think He so wanted to have come through for them. I think He wept because He hated disappointing and hurting them.

As I cried out to God that night, I was comforted by this revelation. Jesus, one part of the Trinity of God, was identifying with my pain. He wanted to give me motherhood now, but God had a different plan. One that ultimately would bring Him more glory, which at the end of everyday is truly the cry of my heart. That my life would bring Him glory. He also, in His supreme wisdom knows what I can handle and what I can't.

Have you had times like this as a parent? Where your child wants something NOW, like a pony or a bike, but you KNOW they are not old enough to handle it yet. You SO want to please them, but you can't...not yet. And you really can't wait to give it to them....I think this is how Jesus was feeling as I cried myself to sleep that night.

And the best part of this story is that just a few minutes later they rolled away the stone and Jesus got to "loudly" cry out "Lazarus, come forth"! I honestly do not think it was a stoic somber cry. I think it was a gut wrenching, can't wait to see you LOUD cry. This is the same cry we will all hear when our hopes and dreams are finally in our hands. I can hear Jesus up in Heaven crying out in this way as our babies are born, or on our Gotcha Days or the days that our loved ones either come home to be with Him or wake up to new life here on earth.

Our Jesus loves us SO much! His waiting is truly His love for us! How hard this is to believe, but how awesome it is to share in bringing Him glory through our testimonies that are birthed through these hard waiting times. Be comforted knowing that God does love you and SO empathizes with your longings. He'll come through...hold on...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Refuse Video

This is a great video created by one of our mission team members, Jennifer Hanson. She was a member from our second March 2011 Uganda team. It's so wonderfully created! It is a GREAT representation of what one of our trips is like. The Song is entitled "I Refuse" by Josh Wilson

Pure Religion: Uganda 2011 with Visiting Orphans from Jennifer Hanson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

When God Picks ME!

I wanted to share an email I received this week from Rebecca Brown, one our past Rwanda/Ethiopia team members:

I wanted to tell you myself what one Visiting Orphans trip did to my life...

Ok, lets see... on my trip we went to Rwanda first and it stole my heart. I really loved the Noel orphanage and wanted to do so much there. I really thought that God was going to bring me back there, until Ethiopia.

Most of the people on my team loved Ethiopia. I was already set that in my mind that Ethiopia was ok and wouldnt steal my heart b/c I was going to come back to Rwanda. The last two days of our trip some things got change on our agenda. The places we were going to didn't want us til like 3 afternoon. SO, we told Tymm, our team leader that we didn't want to sit around for the next two day waiting til 3 to do something - we wanted to help.

So, Nathan, another team member said, "would any of you like to take some street kids to lunch?" We loved the idea!! I thought that there was going to be like 4 boys that Nathan knew that would show up. We pulled up that morning and there were llike 30 kids. I remember thinking "OH my Goodness Lord, these are teenage boys." " I dont know what to do with teenage boys." I remember becoming a little scared of my stuff for the first time, thinking, "are they going to steal or beg from me?" I was the last one out the van and got out remember telling God a little prayer, saying... "I am definitely out of my comfort zone here Lord and I dont know who you want me to talk too. You are going to have to help me on this one."

As I was looking up from my prayer and looking back down there was this boy walking towards me. He grabbed my hand said MY name is Sami. Yes, the Sami everyone knows and loves so much. Sami asked me if I knew your hubbie Simon and that if I knew when he was coming back. That boy stole my heart! He never let go of my hand. He loved me so much for the next 3 days. That moment when Sami picked ME out of crowd God showed me that he always picks the weakest ones to do his work. That even though Sami didn't know me he loved me anyways, just as God loves us.

We go on these trips thinking that we will change these kids lives and they change ours so much more. I just fell in love with the street kids!!! I met Ephrem that day and later that night I have no idea what made him ask me but he asked me if I come for the summer to help. I prayed bout it when I got back and in the last few months God has made it his plan.

SO, I leave in 5 short weeks. I am selling my things and moving to Ethiopia. I had planned on the summer but as I am working with Ephrem ministry we feel that God is leading me longer term. So when I get there, I am going to try to find sponsors to sponsor me as a missionary to help Ephrem in his ministry, which God is about to take off with. So many doors are opening and very excited. I am going to get his sponsorship program up and running to get these kids sponsored by americans. I hope to get some kind of a tutoring program started and get a soccer tournment done this summer. I am so excited to see what God has planned b/c I could have never dreamed that this is what he had in mind for me.

This has been the most challenging thing having to give up so much and leaving what I do know behind, but I love a God who is great and awesome and see more potenial in me then I could have ever. So, I THANK YOU for Visiting Orphans and what you do for this ministry. I am sure I am one of many stories that lives where changed by God, but God used Visiting Orphans to do so. I hope that Visiting Orphans keeps the street kids close to them and continues to put it on the agenda so that kids lives can be changed through sponsorship. I am sure that we will be talking in the future as I contuine to grow in this ministry.

Its so crazy the connection you have being on a VO team. Loved that someone I never met came and supported me today. LOVE being a part of a VO Family :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A wonderful blog post by my incredible husband, Simon, who is leading our team in Uganda this week:

Everyone always talks about being marked for Christ and marked for Jesus. I am here to say that today, our team has been officially marked for Uganda! Of course we give our allegiance to Jesus Christ but we have experience a new level of love and commitment to this place.

This morning, we rushed off to meet 500 students at a local school. There were 7 classes from 2nd grade up to 8th grade. We taught the kids “Simon Says” and they taught us how to laugh☺ I personally walked away with marks on my arms from little rug rats who would not let go! These children are so hungry for love. Get this… 10% of the students there were orphans. That’s right, 50 of the children at school went back to an orphanage.

Our biggest surprise of the day was early afternoon. I’ll try to keep this brief. “Pillars of Hope” is a grass roots organization started by a man who Amanda and I had a pleasure of meeting 3 years ago. The man’s name is Godrey and he had a vision 3 years ago to start a program for children who were from the streets. So, today we had the opportunity to see his 45 children and to meet his staff (of volunteers). That was only the beginning… We also heard a testimony of a young lady who only a year ago was a Muslim, a Widow, and a Prostitute. She was selling herself in a one-room home with her two young children living at her bedside. You can only imagine. Godfrey and his staff were able to minister to her and her children. Through their love and grace, she is now able to make scarves and rugs and she sells them to local churches. She shared her testimony and it brought tears to our eyes. She is now a transformed woman who loves Jesus and has a purpose!

Another HUGE blessing was given to Canaan Children’s Home today by one of our team members, Welch McCollough. He literally spent all day hooking up wifi internet for an orphanage so that they can now offer computer services to the local community. This will not bring in funds to support the children but it will offer opportunities for the children to learn viable skills in technology. Like I said, HUGE blessing.

We ended our night singing praises to our KING Jesus with children falling asleep in our arms. Literally, we worshiped and gave glory to God for a day that left a mark on us forever. As I close, I will say this… Going on a mission’s trip holds so many secrets and keys that will unlock your heart to the things close to God’s heart. I can’t begin to explain the joy we have had today. No amount of money can replace these deposits from God. You truly have to “Go” to experience what James calls “Pure Religion”.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Waiting

With the new news of adoptions in Ethiopia possibly slowing down, it has really increased our yearning for our little girl we are trying to adopt in Ethiopia. I was the given the following verses from my Assistant, Amanda Herdina. It brought me SUCH comfort and I wanted to share it with the rest of you who are waiting.

Letter Given to Timothy, For All Those Who Have Ears to Hear

Oh Timothy, you of little faith. Have I not said to you, “Trust in Me”? You weigh all that is, and is not, on your emotions and lack of patience. Finish that which is set before you, then shall you be given more.

Next week, go east and work with your new client, but do not abide there. There will you find enough to carry you over. Have faith... Have I not provided thus far? In the weeks to come, I will provide you with plenty. Have patience and rest in The Lord... be not tempted of satan. All good things come to those, who wait patiently in The Lord and overcome with steadfast faith. Pray and ask of The Father, in The Son’s name, and it shall be given you. Obey all that I ask of you, and I will return to you ten-fold in Heaven that which is due you. And yes, Timothy, I will keep your head above water. Even more so will I give to you, so much so that your tithe shall grow and help those in need near to you. If your tithe shall grow, shouldn’t that which you tithe from grow first?

I have spoken, so it shall come to pass. Trust in Me, and I shall increase you greatly in your land. Through you, many shall be lifted up out of their need; and through Christ working in you, shall many be lifted up to redemption, which is in Christ, The Lord.

I also received this today from a daily Word I receive:

You are right on schedule, but not according your time frame. You have placed yourself under My authority and kingdom rule where time on the earth takes only a secondary position. You can make your appointments and set your schedules, but you must remember that My purposes for you supersede natural plans. For, I see and know all things, and I know how to bring about that which is best for you, says the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Focus on the things of the day, Timothy, especially the works of The Lord. Worry not on tomorrow, for The Lord holds tomorrow in His right hand, and yesterday in His left. But today, cherish, for The Lord is with you today. Let The Lord handle your tomorrows. You, Timothy, work, and do those things both necessary and pleasurable for your family today, for tomorrow holds its own trials... All of which can and will be overcome through Me."

Saturday, January 08, 2011

El Roi Saw Andrew

I had a couple hours this morning that I could have finally have slept in...yet, I was awoken at 6 AM. As usual, I tried to go back to sleep but as I tried, the memories and realities of our last fourteen days rushed in. I've had no time to process everything as the leader. I'm always "on". Always... but here at the Adonai Hotel which feels like a big hug, thanks to their sweet service and lovely accommodations, I've had some down time and some time alone. We leave tomorrow night so our schedule has slowed down some as I'm trying to be sensitive to the team's emotions and energy which is quickly running out.

As I began processing these last two weeks, I suddenly remembered the news I heard yesterday which, had I been in the privacy of my home and not having to "hold it together" for the team, would have brought me to my knees.

On Monday we visited Renee Bach's ministry, Serving His Children in Jinja. Renee is doing an extraordinary service through her ministry to starving and malnourished children among the least of these in Jinja. What makes her even more extraordinary is that many times as she is nursing a child or young man or woman back to health, they will pass away in her sweet arms. Yet, she keeps on going and serving, loving her God, by loving and fighting for these children.

Our team had the honor and privilege to meet sweet Andrew who was in her care. He was four years old and had been left by his mom in a starving condition at his grandmother's front door just a few days earlier. He was at Renee's when our team visited.

We were all stunned and shocked that he could be four, yet he barely weighed anything. I held little Andrew's feet as they were so cold and I could tell he wanted to sleep. I know when my feet are cold that I can't get comfortable enough to sleep. So, I held his little feet in my hands and rubbed them until they grew warm. It's all I knew to do. We all gathered around him and asked questions, spoke to him in our English, which he did not understand and tried to let him know we loved him.

But, you could tell he was so scared. So sad and so uncomfortable. Renee in her beauty, grace, peace and strength just calmly reassured him all the while answering our many questions. We just could not understand how someone could let their child starve. There are many questions that will never be answered. How could this team of white people ever understand life in a small mud home that has probably been visited by death and sickness many times over. Most of these poor women just give up when they find their children very sick, or when they can't find the resources to care for them.

But this sweet Andrew's grandmother had the love to take him to the hospital where Renee found him. His last couple of days were spent with two sweet women of God, Renee and her best friend, Shana, as they stayed up every hour all night long, just to feed him two tablespoons of this special mixture they make, as that is all he would eat. Every hour....all night long.

Yet, the news I heard yesterday was that Andrew passed away. What breaks me the most is that his last words were "I want my mommy". In all the love and care that Shana and Renee poured on him, he just wanted his mommy. But his mommy was nowhere to be found. I don't say this to bash her. We do NOT know her circumstances. But, I think of the MILLIONS of children who are in Andrew's condition, who die alone just wanting their mommy and it WRECKS me. In his last minute, he just wanted his mommy.

I think of Jesus who died on the cross and how forsaken He felt in those last minutes...He felt abandoned by his own Father, the God of this universe. Even he wanted to live. Even he wanted his daddy in his last few minutes here on this rotten earth.

They all just want their mommy and daddy and they are left alone.

I weep as I write this as the idea of now returning to our plush, seemingly lifeless reality hits me. We are sick in America. We are sick with fatness, complacency, indulgence, entertainment, the pursuit of success and distraction. The enemy's goal is to lull us to make us so comfortable we cannot move!!!!!!!!!! And yet, there are starving orphans, literally, left alone to die.

I hope this blog post WAKES YOU UP!!! I hope it makes you stop eating all those lifeless foods which are trying to put you to sleep. I hope it makes you turn off that movie or television which steals your time and WASTES it. And lastly I hope it convicts you of the reality of the life of an orphan here in Africa and many other nations. And I pray as well that I will return with this same conviction and never return to that place.

A few minutes ago I went into the kitchen at this guest home to get my cup of coffee. Above the coffee maker was a sign that said, "El Roi - The Strong God Who Sees".
God sees these children and he saw Andrew. This strong loving Father picked sweet Andrew up and placed him in Renee's arms. I pray he some how knew that His loving, heavenly Father never forsook him. He loved him so much that he took him home to be with him. Home where there is no sin or death. Home where he is surrounded and engulfed by Love. Not the emotion or feeling, but the One who is Love.

We love you Renee and we are so sorry. Thank you for always getting up and going forward, even when your heart breaks so much. We are praying for you. And you inspire those of us whose hearts break. We can't give up either... There is too much at stake.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


I am writing this as our team and I are on our way to Rakaii, Uganda after several days at Canaan Children’s Home. Our team spent the nights in this orphanage. I have found that the teams who get to spend the evening and early morning hours with the kids always come home more broken hearted than the other teams. It must be due to the unscheduled free time where each team member gets to spend quality time with certain children whom the Lord softens their heart to.

It’s usually the little children who seek out the team members.

Every time our teams arrive at an orphanage they are welcomed with screaming little children who are clapping and jumping up and down. Then, as they get off the bus, they are literally tackled with tribes of children. There is something extremely special about African children…they trust you completely. They rush over, greet you and immediately start holding your hand. If you pick them up, they will in time fall asleep on you. They so want a place to surrender, to be held and loved and rocked to sleep as you hold them.

So, this team is wrecked as Canaan Children’s home had about 23 new orphans. Most of which came from traumatic backgrounds. Sereka was the little girl who chose me this time. She wasn’t the most beautiful of the little girls. She had some teeth missing prematurely, but she didn’t care. She smiled so big. She rarely spoke anything. She hardly moved, unless prompted by me. I asked Pastor Isaac for her story. He said she was sexually abused by a relative until she came to Canaan’s. She was maybe four years old. And we noticed that she barely moved and was very hot and found out that she also had malaria.

This is the little girl that God decided to break my heart with again. The list of those He uses in my life continues with each trip. Ababa in Ethiopia, Faida in Gulu, Adelisa in Costa Rica, etc.

Atleast I know I will be back in Uganda in just two months. Sereka will see me again and that’s what is important to her heart. She’s worth more than one visit. Her little heart doesn’t need to feel used again, abandoned again, or forgotten again.
I had some time in the quietness of my room at the orphanage to hug her tightly and pray over her. She held on for what seemed like dear life. I prayed for protection and for the healing of her traumatized heart. I watched her as we drove away in our bus..and thankfully she was smiling and not crying. She seemed loved and encouraged and hopeful. She knows in her little trustful heart that I will come again soon.

This is why I encourage our team members to try and visit the same orphanages and children three years in a row. We want the orphans to know they are loved and remembered. Not just a great experience for us and now we can move on. Because they aren’t moving on. They are in the same place day in and day out. We have to come to them. We are the ones who can model Christ and go to them to visit.

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