Still, I have found myself asking a thousand questions about how and when and with what resources. Mostly, how? How am I to love the fatherless? As a 28-year-old single woman, what does it look like for me to welcome the stranger, the unloved, into my life?
My friend Kristen (left) and I (right) in India.
Last December I went to India to work with an organization called As Our Own. I had the privilege of hearing Ralph, the President of As Our Own, speak on a few occasions and every time, I found myself humbled and challenged by his faith and the stories of God’s rescuing in India. What stuck with me most is the desire that Ralph and his team have to raise these little girls, rescued from human trafficking, as their own children. Ralph says, “It is easy to raise a child as an orphan. The challenge and the joy come in raising an orphan as your own.” The first time I heard Ralph say this, my heart leapt. This was a thought I'd had many times, only in different words. But until I heard Ralph say it just as he did, caring for the fatherless was really just a distant idea. It was a "ONE DAY" dream instead of a "TODAY" reality. After all, I am a 28-year-old, single woman with no children. I have the freedom to spend my time and my money how I want to without having to worry about a family.
But my time in India changed all that. Sitting face to face with those girls, hearing their stories, seeing their personalities...I fell in love. We worshiped together. And we laughed, and danced, and painted each others' toenails. They called us Didi and Dada...it means big sister or brother. My heart was no longer clinging to the idea of loving these girls as my own. It was enveloped by the truth that these girls ARE my own. I now know where some of them have come from. I heard the stories of abuse, rape, abandonment. I saw their talents. One little girl was a natural dancer. She needs to be in dance lessons. Another girl wants to go to seminary. Oh how I want to sit with her and talk about the deep things of God, to rejoice with her over God's works and words. There was one girl who I just wanted to hug and tell her how beautiful she is. That she is smart and talented and beautiful and God made her purposefully. That she is loved.
The night we left was one of the hardest nights of my life. As the girls loaded the vans to go back to Grace Home, it was all I could do to not cry. And those tears just kept pushing their way to my eyes through the entire flight home. I never imagined that I would know what it was like to send your child off to school for the first day or to college or anywhere that would mean separation for any amount of time before I'd even been on a date. But there it was, this horrible truth that I had to come back to Houston and live on the complete opposite side of the world from my girls. I'm sure the mothers reading this are skeptical that I could know how they feel. And perhaps it's not the same. There is really no way to know. All I know is that my life has to be different now. I can't spend my money however I want. I do have a family to think about. I have little girls that should be in dance class and should get to go to college. I have babies that outgrow their clothes too quickly and sometimes have tummy aches. I have sweet girls who have hurts and heartaches that need counseling so they have help finding the healing they so desperately need. These are my girls.
And the girls in India are not the only ones. There are fatherless in Africa, Asia, Europe, and yes, even down the street from you and me. They are mine too. They may be strangers to me, but I have been given the ministry of reconciliation. I have been given the charge to love as I have been loved. So these strangers are my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters...they are my own.
And you know what? They are you girls too. Your sons and daughters. Your brothers. Your sisters. As the church we have a responsibility and the privilege to love the orphan, to help the weak. We can't wait for the church staff or the people "called" to the mission field to do it all. You are the church. I am the church. We should be loving orphan children as our own, welcoming strangers (fatherless, abandoned, left despised, unwashed, unloved...) into our lives. But maybe you are asking the questions that I had: When? How?
I know that finding those answers can be more difficult than we'd like. Many times there seems to be so much need that we become paralyzed by the countless opportunities to press in. My prayer is that 2theLeast would be a bridge. Our heart is to connect you with the needs of the strangers we are called to love. We are learning with you and will continue to share with you what we discover. We have been posting songs, scripture, and other resources that speak to the heart of this mission we are on.We invite you to join the conversation and to join us on this journey of giving our lives to the least.