When Orphans Have Faces

There are approximately 201 million orphans in the world. 2.6 million children in Kenya are orphans, a large number due to AIDS. You can glance at these numbers and if you’re like me, your heart may feel a pang and you become sad momentarily before something else steals your attention.

 
Today, my team visited a home for orphans near Kitale. There are about 32 orphans from a baby and toddlers to older teenagers. Mostly girls, but a few boys. They live in a building with three bedrooms, makeshift shower rooms, a modest kitchen and small living area. Most of the children were found sick on the streets and some of them were taken in because their parents could not provide for them. The clothes on their backs are tattered and worn and are most likely the only pieces of clothing they own. They sleep on the floor and are lucky to get a blanket to cover them. The woman who has seen a vision for this home and opened it has her own family with three children and does what she can to provide for her other 32 children. They had a pastor supporting their home but he decided to stop and now they are struggling to provide for the children. A man who had been helping with the home took advantage of one of the teenage girls and got her pregnant. The baby is a girl and she is healthy, but as we were told of her situation, the mother hid her face. Her baby is beautiful. The girl is beautiful. I can’t even imagine how much possible shame she is feeling when she has done nothing. My heart broke so many times today. They struggle to even provide food. While we were there, they asked to have 200 shillings (a little less than $3) to buy a couple loaves of bread for the children. They cannot afford to send any of them to school. They try to teach them in the home with a few school posters, but they do not have the means to teach them properly. 
 
When we walked in, the little girl in the tattered yellow princess dress instantly caught my eye. I motioned her to me and pulled her frail body up onto my lap. She was timid at first but it took maybe two minutes for her to relax into me. She is maybe 3 or 4 and she has big, beautiful brown eyes. As I stroked her face and her head, her eyelids began to fall and soon she was asleep. She is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous and I don’t think she could ever have a full understanding of how much her Father in Heaven loves her. 
 
I have this maternal instinct that tells me I need to do all of these things for these babies who don’t have parents or food or beds. I want to take them all and give them everything they need and more. And I think that taking action is so important, but I also think that God is teaching me that as much as I think I can do for these children, He can, and will do more. He cares about the sparrows. His heart belongs to the orphans. They will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. He holds them in His hand and watches over them and provides for them and comforts them and loves them. And I love Him so much more for that. 
 
Before today, orphans were just a number to me. Or pictures on a commercial used to guilt trip their way into your wallet. Now the orphans have faces. They have names. They have futures. They are beautiful. They are treasured. They are loved by the King of kings. When I leave, my heart is staying here with their smiles and songs. 

Hi. It’s 2 a.m. and I Can’t Sleep.

Excuse my late night rambling….

My mind won’t let my body rest. This is not uncommon. I’m kind of used to my zzz’s being robbed by a brain that won’t shut down. And if I took all of that time and gave it to Jesus instead of trying to find mindless things to fill my time with until I’m finally exhausted, I bet I’d find much more peace and probably more sleep as well.

God has shown me that one area of my life that I continually stumble and fall is how I spend my time. Time is such a weird thing. Because of how completely awful I am with time management, I think it’s safe to say that my soul wasn’t made to be constrained by time. But unfortunately, my body is. I waste so much time. Why??? I seriously feel like Paul when he says in Romans 7:15, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I seriously don’t understand it. And I don’t like it. And I know ways to fix it and I don’t. I have debates in my head, yet I choose to sin and spend my time doing foolish, pointless, effortless things instead of genuine, life-giving ones. I gave up social media for lent, hoping to find an escape from time-wasting and while it did provide some relief, it didn’t last long. Why does our society feel the need to throw so many things at us to distract us? I think it’s a direct attack from the enemy. When we allow ourselves to become so distracted with meaningless things, the meaningful ones are forgotten. Our purpose in life seems to become less important than our Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest feed. I am so guilty of this. It would be completely embarrassing if I had a time log of how much time I spend with Jesus compared to how much time I spend on the internet or my phone. Perfect example of a good thing becoming more important than the Only Thing that should be most important. And it’s so silly too. Like, I think we overlook this as a sin constantly. Obviously God didn’t write on the 10 commandments, “Don’s spend more time on the internet than you do with me.” But He did write, “Have no other gods before me.” “Do not covet.” (Which, let’s be honest for a second…social media evokes jealousy like no other.) “Do not bear false witness.” (It’s not that I think everyone lies on the internet, but I do think we tend to only expose the good in our lives to people who have no way of knowing any better.) So there are 3 commandments that I probably break daily…just from being plugged into the internet. Ew. That’s really disgusting to me.

I guess I’m sharing this because I think it’s prevalent and maybe someone will relate or allow this sin in their own life to be exposed. Or maybe it’s because I want to be real with anyone reading this. I don’t want people to think that my life is all happiness and bliss and that I’m constantly buddy-buddy with God. I’m not. I fail Him so so often. I push Him away because the comfort of wasting time seems more important than diving into His divine delight. So often, I know what He’s asked me to do and I deliberately don’t do it. I fail. Daily. Hourly. God has called me to go to Africa and I have said “yes” and followed through in the big ways, but I have fallen so short in a million little ways. I am physically going, but I have not done my best to prepare my heart and continue to ask for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance. I haven’t desired to spend my precious, limited time delving into the treasures He is waiting for me to find. I am so thankful for His chesed. I am so grateful that His love for me has absolutely nothing to do with me or how I spend my time. And I’m rejoicing because even after and fail and fail and fail, He still desires to help me do it right the next time.

And now, this song is my prayer. For tonight, that Jesus would sing over me and multiply the hours of sleep I do get and to constantly be reminded of how amazing His love really is.

AMAZED – LINCOLN BREWSTER

You dance over me while I am unaware
You sing all around but I never hear the sound

Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
And how You love me

You paint the morning sky with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
For You hold me in Your hand

How deep how wide
How great is Your love for me

Past Prayers and Forever Faithfulness

I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about what I should write to all of you about. My journey is moving, even if seemingly slow, in the direction to be expected of it. In 26 days, I will board my flight freakishly early in the morning to fly to Atlanta. In 11 days, my trip must be 100% paid for. God has not once stopped being good to me in this. I have about $150 left to go which seems so unreal because only months ago, I was looking at $3,995 empty dollars and wondering how God was going to help me pull this off. And He has. I tell myself I shouldn’t be surprised, because I know He’s good and I know He’s powerful and I know He is a good Father who give good gifts to His children. But there’s definitely an awe-factor about this whole thing that brings this feeling that I can’t even explain to you. I think it’s a huge mixture of gratitude, relief, joy, and maybe a tiny bit of apprehension for what’s to come. I’m praying though that God will replace the apprehension and anxiety with anticipation and expectation. God is gonna move in BIG ways and I am so willing and ready to be an instrument in His hand; a vessel to pour out His love.

I found a prayer that I wrote out at some point last semester and I just think the timing that God brought this back up is so sweet because frankly, I’ve been stumped. I’ve been lazy. I’ve been tired. I’ve been avoiding the simple pleasure of just allowing myself to be with my Maker. But He hasn’t stopped wanting to be with me; wanting me to coming back and sit in His lap and listen to Him whisper in my ear and love me the only way that I really need to be loved. And so it’s just really awesome to have a reminder. Something that shouts His goodness and shows His kindness in ways only He could.

God, You are seriously SO GOOD. I’m not where I want to be or where I feel like I should be, but I’m one step closer and I’m thankful for that. YOU ARE FAITHFUL. Thank you for putting me in a place where I can learn these lessons in a place where I’m not ridiculed. Where I can literally impact lives. I came to you in filthy rags. Rags that seriously STINK with “good religion.” Rags that have been tainted by complacency and ripped apart by pride. I’ve thought that I was too good for you. Like I know how to follow all the rules and say all the right words and associate with the right people–all the while DYING of starvation. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for redeeming me. Thank you for clothing me in royal robes. Thank you for bringing me in and letting me eat at your table. The food you have given me is the only food I’ve ever tasted that truly SATISFIES.