Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why "there" when there's so much need "here"?

My grandmother and I are talking about the gifts.  We're talking about how she could mention to her girlfriends that if they'd like to buy a small gift for one of the children we'll be visiting at the center in Ukraine, and I'll give her some photos to show them, so they can see the kids.  We talk about how it's so important for a child who has lost everything - sometimes more than once - to have a little something that is just theirs.

She tells me that she has enjoyed the shoebox projects her church does at Christmas, but that a lot of people ask her, "Why do you send things to kids in other countries when their are so many needy kids here?" She doesn't really have an answer, except that she enjoys it.  But I can tell she wants an answer, as I think she feels a little anticipation of these questions coming up again.  

We talk more.  About Jesus and children and gifts. About needs so great.  And us, so small.

The question is valid, though, and I think it's important to talk about all these things, when we talk about missions and ministry and giving and orphan care.  I hear this question worded in different ways. "Why would they adopt from another country when there are so many children here?" "Why would they adopt a child with severe special needs, when there are healthy children who need a home?"  "Why did they want to have a foster child, when they could have adopted a baby, without all that baggage?"  "Why would you help kids far away, when there are so many poor children in our own communities?"  

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but the only thing that continually comes to mind when I hear these questions is that the needs are so great..... so great.  Way beyond what any one of us could possibly meet.  And the Lord loves each of these little ones so incredibly.  And there is truth in each of these questions.  There are so many children - little ones, bigger ones - who all have needs that sting my heart. And I'm so thankful that we serve a God who calls each of us to unique areas of service, so that, hopefully, we are all together working as the body of Christ to do what we can to reach this hurting world with the love of Jesus.  

And I'm encouraged when I step back and see a larger picture of what is happening around me.  I have friends who have adopted from foster care and others who've adopted babies of all different colors as infants, and I have friends who've travelled the globe against all earthly odds to bring children home when governments and embassies have been difficult to work with.  I have friends who have had adoptions fall apart time and again, but who've continued on in faith that God is in control, even through tremendous grief and broken hearts.  And I have friends I have not yet met who give their lives daily to rescuing children from the streets of Eastern Europe and taking care of them.  I know a man who set up a house in a whole different country just so that kids there would be safe.  And I am getting to know friends who've stared down stigmas and fear and lies to bring home children who would have died of AIDS if left in other countries, but who are able to be safe and healthy and live great lives in the U.S. because we have the medicine they need and the families they need.  I have a childhood friend who works to fight human trafficking.  Each of us can do something.  God will show us each what that is.  And that feels like hope.

And all these children are precious.  Each of them is of indescribable value to the Lord.  And they each do have needs.  And as God's people, we have to ask Him how He wants each of us to be working to meet those needs.  We are not all called to do the same thing.  But I believe we have to be honest enough to ask the Lord His heart for us, and we have to be willing to expose our own hearts to the hard things and the hard places.  Sometimes that means going.  Sometimes it means staying.  Sometimes it means seeing needs and not understanding why they are not met yet.  And it means trusting that the God we serve is able to redeem the broken pieces and create beauty from ashes.  But I don't believe it's God's will for any child to be an orphan.  It's a sad fact of living in a broken world, but it's not ok.  And I don't care where the children live, they move my heart. 

I can't really get my head around the magnitude of need in our world...In our own back yards or across the planet.  So I start where I can.  And there is no value to be placed differently among children based on their geographic location.  If you have a heart to serve, the Lord will show you where your life and your love and your time are needed.

For us, God has given us a relationship with a boy halfway around the world.  And we've been blessed to call him "son," even though he is not with us in person.  One thing that is true, no matter where we serve is that relationship and consistency are the keys.  Also, I'm learning over and over again that we have to be continually asking the Lord and asking the people who know more than we do, "How we can best help?"  

We're approaching the Ukraine orphan care work with that attitude of "Show us how, Lord."  We are working to have authentic dialogue with people who are currently in the trenches of orphan care in Ukraine, who know where the needs are and who have incredible insight into how we can come alongside and offer support. So please keep praying with us that God will continue to reveal His plans and His will to us as we are working to understand the best way to care for orphans.  

Would you like to give a small gift to an orphan in Ukraine?  Let me know, and I'll tell you about the kids who still need someone to give to them!  And I'll be sure to share photos with you.  You can also make a donation through the Donate button at the top of the page, and help through Project HOPEFUL - we're raising money to do some special things for the children while we're there.  It's really exciting!

I am praying also for you, that you'll be encouraged in your own life as you see needs and work to meet them in the name of Jesus.  If you would like to share about how God's stirring your heart into action and where you are called to serve, I would love to have you leave a comment and tell me about it. It's so encouraging to hear about what each of you is doing! 

"May the God of all peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus...equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."  
Hebrews 13:20-21

1 comment:

  1. This brings back memories....we have several friends who adopted from the Ukraine about 5 years ago. I'm remembering their stories about the journey.

    Wishing you and your family well on your own journey!