Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Matthew 18:24 "Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish...."

This verse is the last verse in the parable of the lost sheep. In this parable, Jesus is using an analogy of a shepherd, to that of God's love. Please read this with me:

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go and seek out the one that is lost? "

Jesus is stating here that it is not the will of our Father that any little one should perish and that His heart is to GO out and seek the ONE that is lost...

As I read these verses I was reminded of these haunting images by a professional photographer who is on our Chaoyang, China trip this week. Here is the story:

The boy you see in these photos is named Yung Young. Here is his story from one of our team members, Meme Bass.

I wish I could better describe our first day, but I struggle with words because of my emotional exhaustion. Though my heart is filled with great joy and thanks for seeing the children again. I am overcome with so much sadness. In the middle of the clapping and laughing, I was led to a large nursery room that had a bed, a 7 year old boy, and a dying woman. My eyes have never seen a sight like this. I was hesitant to the enter the room so I softly said, “Ni Hao” (“Hello”). The woman replied with a weak “Ni Hao”. I approached the woman and reached out to hold her hand, she quivered in pain. Even the slightest touch was more than she could bare. After a few seconds, the woman gave her son some directions and he walked around the bed to his mother’s side, slipped his hand into a plastic bag and pulled out 4 apricots, 2 for me, 2 for Mallory. The child and his dying mother had given us all they had to give. As I have been preparing to return to Chaoyang, I knew I would be faced with challenges and images of sadness. I was prepared to see the orphaned children of Chaoyang, but I was not prepared to see a child who is in the process of becoming an orphan.

We know very little about the boy and his mother. But what do know is that she is very ill and the boy will attend the orphanage boarding school once he turns 8. With the help of our local guide, Steve, we also learned that the woman suffers of strokes and is no longer married. The only family this child has is his dying mother. I ask that you keep this woman and her son in your thoughts. My greatest fear is that we will be in Chaoyang when this boy becomes an orphan.

The team member who took these photos, Mallory Kreiger, described it in such a way that you realize that this little boy is afraid to leave his mom's side to play with the other children. Afraid that any moment he could lose his mom and possibly be absorbed into this orphanage with all the other children.

God obviously cares for this ONE and I'm so thankful that our team is in Chaoyang seeking out each ONE like Yung and letting them know Jesus, the son of God sees them and has sent them over the great waters to find them and let them know that they are not alone...that they are not lost.

What I love about this China team and all our others is that many of the team members return year after year to the same orphanages, to further build relationships with these same children, letting them know that they aren't forgotten.

So I ask you, "Is there ONE that you need to seek out? Is there ONE whose soul would perish if you did not visit him or her? Who would lose hope if it were not for you....

Friday, June 11, 2010

We Need You in Ghana!

We have a trip scheduled to Ghana, Africa in August and I've been saddened and amazed at the lack of interest in this part of Africa. Our Uganda and Ethiopia trips fill up fast with waiting lists, and Ghana's orphans have just as much need as the orphans in these two countries, if not more. It may not be the popular country in Africa to visit and may require some people to REALLY get out of their comfort zone, but isn't that what a mission trip is all about?

The very first mission trip I went on, I decided, if I was going to get out of my comfort zone, I was going to really do it! So, I signed up to go to Siberia!!! And look what God has done with my life since that first mission trip 13 years ago. It's the trips that really take you out of your comfort zone that tend to make the greatest impact in your life and those you minister to. Maybe God will do something extraordinary in your life as well, if you will just trust Him and step out and go somewhere unfamiliar...

So, if you asking God to use you and to take you out of your comfort zone, join us in Ghana. A ministry we partner with, Ordinary Hero, just promoted this trip on their blog. Please read about it here and then sign up here.

We really need you to GO!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Images from Ecuador

I wanted to write a blog post for each of our team's days in Ecuador, but with lack of time, it's just not possible. What I hope is that these amazing photos will speak much louder than words. Copyright permission only: www.tuckerbleu.com.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Christian Spin

I hear about this young pastor out of Birmingham, AL often these days...David Platt. He's really shaking up things...shaking up the church and our comfort. I'm in the midst of reading his book. He and the CA pastor, Frances Chan actually "get it"! Take a look at this video clip. It's why I do what I do and so desire to do even more. How my heart aches to actually sell it all and move to Uganda and be a mommy to the millions there.

RADICAL from David Platt on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Full Circle - From Mission Trip to Adoption

One thing I love about my job as Executive Director for Visiting Orphans are the stories I get to hear as God brings the lives of orphans and team members full circle. I have seen numerous people who visit orphans decide to adopt after their mission trips and I've heard many stories of orphans finding homes thanks to those that visited them. But this story really brings all the details and points full circle for me.

I recieved an email last week from a woman named Leslie, directing me to her personal blog. Leslie is in the process of adopting an older boy from China. This same older boy who is waiting in the orphanage for his new parents was visited by one of our mission teams in 2006! AND it was a team that my own sister, Robin Ireland, led to the Feng Du region. The mission team members who visited her son, then, only a toddler, held and prayed over him daily. They specifically prayed that he would one day be adopted and now, 4 years later, he is finally being adopted!!

There are many people who do not believe that short term mission trips are beneficial to orphans. Many people ask me, with skepticism in their voice why we send out short term mission trips. I understand the arguments that short term visits to orphans could cause more harm to their hearts than good. I am aware of this and our heart at Visiting Orphans is to develop long term partnerships with orphanages so that orphans know they are loved and visited repeatedly by the same people who are developing long term relationships.

However, this is not always possible. Most christian Americans can only or choose only to take one or two weeks out of one year of their lives to make this commitment. And sometimes those that travel on our trips come home frustrated, feeling they did not do enough to make a difference. But, I want to showcase Leslie's blog to prove to those who doubt themselves and others who go on trips, that short term trips DO make a difference in orphan's lives. Just read about Jamison, the orphaned boy that our 2006 team visited who will very soon have a forever family!

Saturday, June 05, 2010


One of our days in Ecuador consisted of working with a ministry called Opcion de Vida. This is a well established ministry to the street kids in Quito. Our team's task for the day was to take an interpreter and a handful of invitations and walk around the city looking for street kids to invite them to come to the ministry for a game of soccer.

This ministry has showers and place for the street kids to sleep and they feed them dinner. But you have to persuade them to come, first. So, Simon and I and our interpreter set off to find some of these kids who were living in the streets. Our walk seemed very unsuccessful at first as for some reason there were none to be found. Then, when we were almost back to the ministry's building we saw a boy with his jacket laid out on the concrete and he was collecting something into it. So, we approached him. As we got closer, we could see he was collecting some type of berries and he was looking up and talking to someone in the tree. When we reached him, we looked up and there were two other young boys up in the tree who were shaking the branches for the berries to fall to the ground. All three of the boys were happy to see us and we invited them to the ministry.

As we walked away and back to the ministry building, I made a comment to Simon that our day had not been successful because we had only met and invited three boys. His response was full of faith, "But Amanda, it may be that it was just those three boys we were supposed to have met and invited. Maybe they will come.." I didn't have much faith and didn't think about it again...just wrote it off.

Well, to my surprise, about an hour later, all three of those boys showed up. We took them into the ministry's office and gave them new shirts, toothbrushes and other new items. I began talking to the older boy of the three. He was one of the ones who was in the tree, so I've decided to call him, "Zaccheus". :) You might remember the story in the new testament of how Zaccheus was up in the tree waiting for Jesus to pass by and when Jesus saw him, he invited him to come down and join him.

Zaccheus was very open to us and so I asked him if he knew who Jesus was and he said yes. He also began telling us that he practiced "animalism" and "cutting" to let out of his pain. He proceeded to show the scars and cuts he makes all over his forearms. Immediately I thought of one our team mates, Katelyn, who had just shared her personal testimony. Her testimony is awesome b/c through the love of Christ, she beat her cutting habit. So, Katelyn and I began talking to Zaccheus even more about Jesus and you could tell he was so ready to receive him as the Lord of his life. So, we prayed with Zaccheus and he received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior that day. He promised to keep coming back to the ministry where he can be discipled and we gave him a bible and he loved the verses that our team mate Stephanie showed him.

I keep thinking about how he was up in that tree shaking the tree so he could get the ripe fruit to fall. He didn't realize that he was the fruit that was ripe and ready to picked. My prayer many times is "Lord, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. So, I am asking you to send out workers into your harvest field." Zaccheus was truly so ready to receive the Lord as his Savior and all God needed was a worker to go and invite him into this relationship. Simon had the faith to believe they would come and God did the rest through our team.

The harvest truly is plentiful, they are ripe and ready to be invited... but, the workers are few. They need you to come to them and invite them...