This past Sunday, since it was the second Sunday in November, was designated as Orphan Sunday in an attempt to bring awareness to the orphan crisis around the world. As you know, All Things New is a ministry dedicated to orphan care specifically in Haiti and we did not want to pass up this opportunity to share our hearts about orphan ministry. We could share statistics like the fact that 20,000 children die each day due to preventable disease and hunger or that there are close to 150 million orphans worldwide. We could talk about specific experiences we have had with children in Haiti, parents/families who ask us to take their children, or the psychological affect that living in an orphanage can have on a child. We could get into issues like orphan prevention, corruption within some orphanages, or the best way to do institutional care. We could even implore you to donate to our ministry, get involved in orphan care, or at least give of your time and resources to help children around the world. In fact, each of those avenues of sharing would be completely appropriate in a blog post about “Orphan Sunday.” I want to take a little bit of a different route today in this blog, maybe because my perception of childcare in general has changed since Sophie entered our lives or maybe because we are in the midst of moving from one apartment to another in Jacksonville and this is what “tired Matt” blogs about in regards to Orphan Sunday. Whatever the reason, here it goes…
Have you ever noticed how the simplest concepts are some of the most difficult to grasp? Let me explain. Think about the term “grace.” What a simple concept. GOD loves us so much that He gives us the beautiful gift of His grace, and the simplicity is that it is just a gift, it is unmerited. So why do I find myself constantly trying to earn it? Because as simple as it is, it is impossible to fully comprehend. Or what about mercy? The idea that we deserve punishment but GOD is merciful and does not give us that punishment. There is a song out now that says, “You Delight in showing mercy, and Mercy triumphs over judgment.” But how complicated is that? Because GOD’s judgment is so perfect that it does not need to be “triumphed” over, and in reality the mercy of GOD is shown perfectly on the Cross because His judgment for our sins was satisfied on Jesus. And we have not even mentioned love, peace, or joy. These concepts that are so easy to define and discuss but can be so difficult to grasp.
And I find myself in the same place with ministry to orphans. It’s so simple when James calls us to “look after orphans and widows” (James 1:27) and it is so pure to want to care for children who cannot care for themselves and fight for children who cannot fight for themselves. Of course we should want to sell our house and move to Haiti, Uganda, Florida, New York, etc. to care for kids who desperately need someone to intervene in their life. But this desire to help others, something that comes so naturally to so many of us, is also one of the most simple/complicated things I have ever been involved in. It’s not as simple as moving to Haiti and saying, “here I am!” It’s not as simple as sponsoring a child, putting on a fundraiser, hosting a spirit night, or having missionaries come to speak at your church. It is messy ministry. You have to sacrifice your time, your resources, and even your love to truly be involved in orphan ministry. You have to be willing to give part of your heart to these kids. Real orphan ministry is tough, but there is this point that you reach (and I know some of you have felt it, please feel free to message me with the moment that you felt this and if there are enough responses I will try and put together another blog about that specifically) when you realize that it has happened. These children become a part of your life and you would do anything for them. As I sit here I just think about Vageley, Malayika, Herbison, and all of our other children in Haiti and how they have changed me and how they have truly become a part of our family and truly taken a part of our heart. As messy as orphan care is, it is completely worth it.
As you are finishing this up, if you have time, I want you to think about your children, grandchildren, students, or any other child in your life that you care about. Think about how they act, who they are, and how they stole your heart. Think about what you would do if they were starving, homeless, didn’t have access to clean water, had a disease or sickness, could not afford to go to school, were being abused or taken advantage of by another adult, or worst of all had never known or felt what it was like to be loved?
You would do anything to protect them!
Did you know there are 147 million children who, through no fault of there own, find themselves in that exact situation right now? It is up to us to be do whatever we need to do to make sure that they have someone fighting for them, protecting them, curing them, sending them to school, and absolutely most importantly loving them. Orphan care is 100% messy and difficult and it is even more worth it.