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 sleep...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.
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
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".