Looking After Orphans
“Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” –James 1:27
Although our call to foreign missions came 20 years ago, it wasn’t until 2009 that we began to feel a call to orphan ministry as well. While reading about the life of George Mueller, we felt impressed that we would one day serve at an orphanage. When God led us to Hope of Life, we knew He was fulfilling this vision. We were excited about this aspect of our ministry and felt prepared to serve the children. After all, we have five kids of our own, Laura is a pediatrician, and we had been through cross-cultural and language training.
What we hadn’t anticipated was this: loving orphans is hard. Jesus’ brother mentions their distress in James 1:27, but it wasn’t until we got here that we began to understand what he meant. His words jumped off the page as we considered their plight. At the base of the orphan experience are loss and abandonment. These issues are often compounded by previous abuse. Furthermore, they are accustomed to life in an institutional setting, and they have seen caregivers come and go. They are often hesitant to trust and reluctant to develop attachments. So, you might ask, what are the implications for us as we try to minister to them? Over the past six months, we have learned that some days they are happy to see us and other days not so much. Some days they come running to greet us, and other days we must pursue them. Some days they play well with our children, and some days they are unkind and aggressive.
Despite the challenges, God has given us deep compassion for these children. We have seen their distress, and we want to be instruments of God’s love and healing for them. We are so grateful that He has given Laura the opportunity to oversee their medical care. This role has opened new avenues of trust with the kids, and we love hearing them yell, “Doctora, Doctora!!!” when they see our van pull in. We also look forward to discipling them through small groups and Sunday school classes. We were awaiting the arrival of another missionary family as we needed more manpower and more Spanish speakers. They arrived this week, and we are all anxious to get started!
Our constant prayer for these precious children is that they would have “a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) and that they would know they are sons and daughters of the Most High (Romans 8:15). Please join us in praying for them. Here are some of their sweet faces…