Mark and I have been praying about adopting children for a couple of years now. Why? It's so difficult to put into words! Sometimes I don't really know where the urge to adopt began. It's like I feel that EVERYTHING in my life led up to this point. How do you explain a lifetime of God's work in your heart in one blog entry?
I guess it's best to start with the beginning. From the time I was little, I remember feeling a heavy burden for injustices in the world. Seeing people who are hungry, the faces of homeless children, or the devastation of poverty bothers me. I can't shake it. There is something in me that will not let go of a cause, no matter how difficult or complicated it may be.
The African Children's Choir arrived at my church in traditional African attire of royal blue patterned with vibrant colors. I had never seen an African in person much less clothing that looked like a traditional Ethiopian habesha qemis. I was enamored by their beauty and African dialect and even more intrigued to hear them sing for us. A little boy caught my attention from the beginning. He was small, 4 or 5 years old. I couldn't imagine what he was thinking and feeling, as he was in the United States for the first time. Did he miss his parents? Did he miss his school? When would he find the time to make up his homework? I couldn't understand why a boy so young would be allowed to travel around the world without his family. My parents would never let me ride my bike across the busy street behind our house, much less travel the globe alone! It wasn't long before the concert began. The music was lively! The children clapped, smiled, and sang with all their hearts. It was a beautiful if somewhat discordant cacophony of drums, stomps, and voices crying out praises to God. I had never heard such singing, but I wanted to sing along! The little boy who caught my attention from the beginning was placed front and center on the stage. His face was turned heavenward as he sang, "Glorify Thy Name" in broken English. Toward the end of the concert the little boy approached the microphone. I leaned forward in anticipation as he began to share his story. He said his English name was Ben, but his African name was too difficult for my 10 year old mind to grasp. His parents had recently died and he had no one to take care of him. He lived on the streets of Africa hungry and homeless. By God's grace, he was found by the organization that founded The African Children's Choir and it allowed him the opportunity to be educated through a tutor, housed in a comfortable home, and eat everyday. He spoke of God's goodness as if he knew him personally, and now I realize he did. In the worst of circumstances Ben was grateful, happy, and faithful to God, even at such a young age.
Ben stayed in my family's home for the next week before they went on to the next city. The joy, gentleness, and love that exuded from him struck me deeply. How unfair it was that this child had no parents, no home, no Christmas morning with his brothers and sisters sitting around a Christmas tree. There was no security in his life, no guarantee of the next meal. Yet his life was full, vibrant, and radiant with Christ. Ben taught me an important lesson that week that Jesus is ALL we need. Only God can be a perfect Father, Protector, Deliverer, and Friend.
I guess it was then that a seed was planted in my heart by God. Through Ben I saw first-hand God's heart for the Fatherless, and a garden of compassion had grown in me since then. When I read scripture like, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you..." I can't get Ben's face out of my mind. God rescues the poor and the needy, and I want to be on His team. When I read in James, "Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." I can no longer think metaphorically or symbolically as it is sometimes tempting to do. It is clear. If I really live what I believe, I must do as Jesus did and defend the cause of the Fatherless.
I don't know what that calling means for everyone logistically. We all have different gifts and capacities; however, the cause of the orphan is a cause we should all be behind. Whether you mentor a child, give money to orphanages abroad, or adopt, the calling is the same...
Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Thank you, Lord, that you didn't leave us as orphans, but you came to us. Help us to do the same for the forgotten children of the world.