Dear Estanly from Honduras writes, "I live with a teacher from the Compassion Project. She took me in when I was 12 years old. I love her very much and am thankful for her supporting me." I remember how he would put a long arm around Maritza's shoulders on child visit day.
Dominican Jeffry's grandmother holds my hand. "Pray for me," she earnestly pleads. "I have trouble with my heart. Jeffry's mother left him with me when he was a week old. Now I care for his cousins and half-brother as well." Where will they go?
Luz Maria's mother, through tears, shares,"I have to be both father and mother now. Luz Maria now has many responsibilities. Sometimes, she is like the mother, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the other children. I have to work the ground and sell in the market." These words are a shock. I thought Luz Maria had both parents. I had brought her father a gift. Luz tells me that her father was sick, that he wandered away, and when they found him, he was dead. Later, from Compassion, I learned that alcoholism was the cause of death. This is typical in Honduras, I discover.
"My grandparents took me in as a small child. Mother was never able to care for me. She died when I was sixteen, giving in to a long battle with addiction." This one is me.
Orphans, all of us, or fatherless. Taken in by the goodness of another. Working to take the place of a missing parent. It is an all too common story, whether here in the U.S. or around the world.. Children abandoned by death, addiction, or selfish living...that feeling of abandonment working in the heart of that child all kinds of insecurity, anger, and a throbbing hurt or guilt. I know these feelings, and I can't imagine how these sometimes overwhelming emotions might be amplified for a child living in desperate need.
I wondered, at times, how God was going to work out all the pain in my life for my good. It is not coincidence that I have been matched with the Sponsored children that I have. I didn't choose them for their hardship...I didn't know about it. But God knew, when I picked up Luz Maria's child packet four years ago and saw her pigtails, a sassy hand on her hip, her pink shirt, and her sweet smile, that down the road, she would need me...and I would need her. God's about redemption, and for me, pouring into my sponsored children from similar experience has been a mighty work of God's healing in my life. I let them know that God never meant for life to hurt. Sin destroyed God's paradise...but not ultimately. As Christians, we are being restored daily towards paradise, growing younger by the minute. We were destined for eternity. There will come a time when all hardship will vanish in the twinkling of an eye...but until that day, God is about working something beautiful out of the hurt in our lives. Satan has won no victory over me; my dear Heavenly Father is working out the pain and destruction into something incredibly beautiful and precious. Part of that beauty was entering into a relationship with my earthly father when I was 27 years old...God was willing to restore to me something that I never thought I would have. God's on the move to bring good in my life.
This brings me to today's give away. Yes, it's September first, day one of a year long journey of purging my life of clutter. As I prayerfully seek to clean out the excess in my closets AND in my heart, it's only appropriate that I give a gift to the fatherless. This baby has not been born yet. She is still cozy and secure with mom...but before long, she will be born into a world of hurt and know what it means to have been abandoned by a father who didn't care to stick around even long enough to see her born. This baby is getting a car seat that once cradled my tiny, much-loved babies. It is going with the message that not one of us is alone or abandoned; the Heavenly, perfect Father, will never leave us or forsake us. The beauty of I John 3:1 sings out, "Beloved, what manner of love has the Father bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God?"
I invite you, dear friends, to have a heart for the orphaned and fatherless. Will you open your heart, perhaps also broken by abandonment, and take in a child who is desperately in need of acceptance? Will you lift up their hearts with the truth of Scripture? I leave you with these words from my dear Jeffry..."I think of you as parents to me, because I am always in your hearts."
And I invite you to view my next brief blog post about little orphaned Josphat.