It’s dark, cold, and raining. It’s 3am and you are shivering under a cardboard box; clothes tattered, hungry, scared, exhausted. You are 7 years old, and next to you under the rain-soaked cardboard is your 3 year-old brother. He is crying because he hasn’t eaten in 2 days. You know no different. This is your life. Two years ago, when you were five, both of your parents died of AIDS and you have been on the street ever since, caring for your brother first and looking out for yourself after his needs have been met. You became a “parent” at the age of five. You beg for food on the streets and pray each night that God will protect your brother and you from crime and disease. On Christmas, you sat huddled under a roofline, thankful that someone brought you and your brother food and clean water on this special day. You have no one to call “father”, no one to call “mother”. You are a family of two, desperate and in need. You believe that you are forgotten. No one is looking out for your well-being or caring for your needs. You don’t have family gatherings at holidays, or someone to take you to ball-games. School will never be an option for you and it is unknown whether you will even live past your 10th birthday. You have been abused and suffered much neglect. Your bone-density is not what it should be and your belly protrudes out due to your lack of nutrition and starvation. As you lie there, wet, cold, and hungry, you pray to God that he would restore you and your brother. That he would touch someone, somehow, somewhere, to help you in your desperation. Who will restore you, does anyone care? Does God even care or has he abandoned you too?
Unfortunately, this is just one example of the 145,000,000 orphans worldwide. This is real, this is happening RIGHT NOW as you read this. We have the ability to do something about this, and we are called to act. If not us then who will restore broken and hurting children?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
I think we all know that “love” is a word not easily defined. It’s multi-facetted and can mean several things depending on context, but seeing that Christmas was just yesterday I am going to focus on the parallel between God’s love for us and what that means in our lives with relation to orphan care. This weekend our pastor was breaking down the all-familiar passage of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” His focus was specifically on the word “Love”. Think about how diluted that word is in our society today? I “love” when the Seahawks win or when my fantasy football team dominates one of my buddy’s squads. I “love” NEEDTOBREATHE and Chipotle burrito bowls. Oh yeah, and by the way God sacrificed His Son for us also out of “love”. You see what I mean? We throw that word around on things that have no business being labeled with “love”. In light of that, it’s predictable that we have grown callous toward the depth and impact of God’s love for us. Think about this concept, because of His “LOVE” God sent his only Son to die for us, even with the knowledge that we were going to sin against him, turn our backs on him, and mock him with our actions. I mean, I like to think that I love people, but if it came down to knowingly sacrificing Cruz to save one of you…I’m choosing my son 10 times out of 10.
So you are probably thinking, “That’s great John, I heard my pastor’s sermon in between singing “Silent Night” and “O Come all Ye Faithful” at our candlelight service as well. I gotcha, what God did was amazing and his love is unfathomable. What does this have to do your blog or orphan care?” Stick with me, I’m getting there. Think of it this way; if love is the premise for everything good and right here on earth, then we ought to reflect and emulate God’s love to see how it should be reflected. Love is what allows us to live for something bigger than ourselves. Love is many things, but none more so than “selfless”. The two words are synonymous, and one cannot be without the existence of the other. God loved us so much that He adopted us and through His love we were restored. God acted in love by adopting us, and it was out of his LOVE for us that we can have hope in something more. Just as I illustrated above, there are hurting souls that are aching for that same restoration. Who will meet their needs and answer their silent cries for help?
I have said, and many others have told me that they are not “called to _______ (fill in the blank with something you would prefer not to do)”. Today’s blog post is a challenge to all of us, myself at the front of the line, to choose to be courageous in whatever area of life that God has led us to wrestle with. If you take my challenge it will force you to lead your heart rather than be led by it. Jeremiah 17:9 says “That the heart is more deceitful than all else” and it will always pursue what feels right at the moment. Do you want to be a wave of the sea, blown and tossed in the wind? I know I don’t. I hope you realize that love is a decision, it’s not just a feeling. It’s selfless, sacrificial, and transformational. I am writing to all, but my hope is that specifically Christian men would bravely step-up and lead their families with strength and Godliness as they answer God’s call to the desperate and broken. How will you demonstrate love in your life as a reflection of God’s gift of love to us through his son?
I thought I would leave you with a quote from the book “Kisses from Katie”. It is about the life of a young American woman in her 20’s who has chosen to answer the cries of 13 girls and counting while living in Uganda. She intended to go abroad for a temporary mission trip and once exposed could not help but act upon the desperate need. She says, “The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left. This is the truth. I have the freedom, the opportunity to do something about it. The truth is that He loves these children just as much as he loves me and now that I know, I am responsible.” My prayer is that this blog will be an eye-opening journey for all of us, as we awaken our hearts toward caring for those in need.
If you want to know more about why I am writing this blog, check out the “About this blog” section!