Sunday, August 28, 2011


Today as we were driving home from church, I saw a dead animal on the side of the road.  It was really an awful sight, and I watched as the people in the convertible ahead of us turned their heads as if it wasn't there.  I shifted my eyes to avoid seeing all the details myself.  Car after car did the same thing.  If we look away, we can get the image out of our minds.  We can forget it.  We can go on almost uninterrupted with our happy plans.

Have you noticed that we tend to do this whenever there's a reality that we simply do not want to acknowledge?

Here's another reality.  This one involves human lives, and I want to share some pictures that I want to you face.  As you look at each photo, please ask yourself if you would ever want your own child to be in this situation.  (I have been given permission from New Horizons for Children to share these photos with you.)

How many pairs of shoes have you ever worn that were in this condition? This is what is provided to kids in one of the orphanages in Ukraine. 

Imagine these being your child's feet.

Here is a common bathing area. They heat water from the hanging hot water heater for use anywhere in the building. But, they fill this bathtub under it once a week and all the kids take turns to come bathe. The green bucket is used to pour water over the kids while sitting.  

Will you please for just one moment imagine sending your child into this room with other children to be bathed once each week?

Here is a ceiling inside a foster home in Latvia. Note the black mold growing on the walls. Since there are concrete walls in most homes, the plumbing was added later in this home and comes into the house by a single pipe and then goes to a couple of areas for indoor running water in this home.

Can you imagine your child living in this foster home?

Here is a typical interior staircase.  You can "see" it but oh, how you don't ever want to "smell" it!

Imagine your own child alone in this staircase.

This is a very nice bedroom in a typical orphanage. These beds were just replaced and they were all so proud of them! But, the smell! No plastic sheets for the beds means they wear out and become unsanitary very quickly!

Take a moment to simply close your eyes and imagine seeing your child sleeping in one of these beds tonight.

Really...did you stop and truly honestly picture YOUR CHILD in these photos?  Is that too far fetched or too hard to even begin to ponder?  Does it make you too sick to even consider?

This is REALITY for millions of orphans.  

And it has been found that once a family steps forward to adopt one of these children, they lock into that reality.  They really look at those beds and think, " child is over there sleeping in that room that stinks so badly.  I wonder if his sheets are clean.  I wonder if he's crying alone in that bed right now."  They see the picture of the shoes and wonder, "Is my child wearing shoes like that right now?"  They see the bathing facility and cringe with the reality that, "My child has to face that room every week!"  

And something inside just propels them to fall on their knees and pray for their child...not a simple, "Please bless Billy" prayer...but a wrestling-on-my-knees-in-anguish-and-tears prayer.  Something compels them to go through a tremendous hassle of adoption paperwork, doctor appointments, fund raisers, headaches, weary travel and abandonment of all comfort zones...all for the single purpose of getting to their child as quickly as possible.  WHY??

Because that child is one of them.  It's not just "someone somewhere" who needs help.  It's a member of their own family.  And suddenly that makes all the difference in the world.  Suddenly those photos of beds and shoes and mold become personal.  And almost all of us would move mountains to help our own family.

These needs MUST become personal to us in some way, whether we adopt or host or give financially or pray fervently for one child until they are adopted.  These photos need to sink in at the heart level...not to depress us and leave us unable to breathe...but to PROPEL us forward, to COMPEL us for the sake of love.

This needs to become reality in our minds and hearts and lives.  Why?  Why should we even give up our time and energy and money and focus to someone on the other side of town or the other side of the world?  Why would we bother when their situation has nothing at all to do with us??

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.  Hebrews 13:3 9 (ESV)

Why do we avoid reality, when we are called to enter into it?  God has called us.  Do we need any other reason? 

I close with a Casting Crowns' song.  And OH how I pray that we GET THIS!

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Look at This Precious Asian Prince!

Chen, Yen-Lung

I was contacted today by someone who is very much wanting this little guy to find his forever family.  She is advocating for him, and I agreed to place him here for YOU to pray for.  To find out more specific information (as I'm unsure what specific information can be posted here), please CLICK ON THIS LINK.  From what I understand, time is of the essence, as he is now too old for the baby house and may be transferred to another facility.  Please pass this along to anyone interested in adopting this little guy.  He's in TAIWAN too!  :)  (We LOVE Taiwan and its beautiful people!)

Please pray, proclaiming Scriptures over his life.  It is GOD ALONE Who is Father to the fatherless and who places the lonely in families.  Join us in claiming that for this child.  In GOD ALONE do orphans find mercy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Reason

Here's just one tiny reason why I'm so glad that we adopted...

It's the little things that make life sweet, isn't it?  The other day when I was baking biscuits, I turned around to find our daughter intent on watching the biscuits grow in the oven.  Every now and then, she'd turn back to meet my eye and smile...followed shortly by "Mmmmmmmmm!"

It's at moments like this when time just stands still for a few seconds, and I stop long enough to let it hit me again: I ALMOST COULD HAVE MISSED THIS.  There are at least a hundred good reasons why we didn't "need" to adopt.  There are at least a hundred good reasons why we could have seen the photo of this little girl, said a quick prayer and moved on without ever stopping long enough to ask, "Lord, is it ME that You want to be Your Hands and Feet here?"

And sometimes it hits me.  We almost could have missed this.  That thought always makes me close my eyes and clench my jaw.  Oh how I would have hated to have missed this!!

And the amazing part is that we may have been the ones who stepped forward to bring our daughter into our home, and we've heard many times how "lucky" she is...but WE are the ones who have been blessed. There are no words to describe the immense blessing this little one has been in our lives.  No human words.

On the day I snapped this photo, I was thinking about how thankful I was that she was relishing in the pure joy of watching biscuits rise.  A child should have little joys like that...
The smell of clean sheets on her bed
The sound of Mama's voice when she wakes up scared in the middle of the night
The feel of Daddy's whiskers on her cheek when she gets goodnight kisses
The taste of her favorite foods
The feel of her favorite blanket
The smell of dinner cooking on the stove
The smell of clean clothes (with matching bows, of course!)
The familiarity of this little place called home

The little things that we take for granted are the very things that children lie awake in their orphanage beds and wish for, pray for, cry for.

Will we have the courage to ask (again and again),  "Lord, is it ME You want to use as Your Hands and Feet to meet the needs of these children?"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing Nothing

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Deuteronomy 27:19  tells us that God commands us not to "distort the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow." (NASB)

"So to deprive the fatherless of justice doesn't simply mean that you deny them a proper hearing in court.  It means not welcoming them into your home, not helping them when they are cold and hungry, not listening when they cry out.  In other words, the sure way to deprive the poor of the justice due them is to do nothing!"     ---The Fields of the Fatherless, by C. Thomas Davis

And yet that is what most of us do, isn't it?  We know about the plight of orphans.  We read the statistics.  We see the faces.  We hear the stories.  And yet we somehow can go to sleep at night without giving it much thought.  We simply DO NOTHING.

It's not enough to read about it and agree.  It's not even enough to have adopted or participated in some form of orphan ministry in the past and think we're "in the clear."  This is something God Himself commands us to make sure we do not distort the justice due an orphan.

God didn't say it just once.  The Bible mentions the importance of caring for orphans many times.  Why is it that something God repeats all throughout His Scriptures is so very easily overlooked?  

If the coach of the most respected and successful team in all of history stopped one day to lean over and give his "secrets" to success, wouldn't all the coaches want to listen and take notes?  If the most successful business owner in the world were to write a book giving the exact formula for success, wouldn't that book sell millions of copies?

And here in our hands, we hold the Living Book written by the God we desire to serve.  And tucked away in the book of James, we find a gold nugget...a prized jewel.  Here, we have the God of the Universe giving His description of what HE HIMSELF defines as pure and faultless religion.  I can picture all of His followers saying, "Oh, I want to know what Your definition of pure and faultless religion is!  I want to know so that I can offer that up to you!  Is it a sacrifice of great money that You want from me?  Is it going to church twice a week?  Is it tithing 10 percent plus an offering? Is it becoming a pastor or missionary?  What oh what is it, Lord, that You define as pure and faultless religion??  Tell me Your secret, Lord!"

James 1:27 says, "Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." (NIV)  Think about it...  The God we worship...the very one we desire to please and love and worship takes the time to give us HIS definition of "pure and faultless religion."  And what do we do?

Many times, we simply do nothing.

It's that depraved indifference.  Indifference to the lives of orphans because they aren't in our own homes.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Indifference to the God who gave us His own definition of what He accepts as pure and faultless religion.

I am beginning to pray some very bold prayers.  One of them is for God to raise up many people who will shake off that depraved indifference.  Ones who simply cannot just "do nothing."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Playing Church

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Perhaps you have heard of Amy Carmichael, the Irish missionary to India.  She once had a vision that she wrote about in an essay titled "My Brother's Blood Crieth."  She talks of the church sitting in circles making daisy chains while the lost blinded people of the world drop off a nearby cliff.  Nobody leaves the circle to go help the falling people.  In fact, the screams of the falling men and women are an irritation to those making their Christian daisy chains.  (Read the whole essay here if you've never seen it.)  I read that when Amy Carmichael sent this essay to the church back home, they were very upset.  Nobody wanted to be accused of what she was implying.

But it was is the truth.

I could go in a million different directions with this, but I am choosing one path that is very dear to my heart...


There once was a boy who had been in an orphanage for 6 years.  Six years.  Let that number penetrate your mind...  
Six years without a mama or daddy to tuck him in bed at night.
Six years without a mama or daddy to hug him and tell him everything is okay.
Six years without enough nutrition for a growing boy.
Six years without his own Christmas stocking, his own Easter basket, his own stuffed animal.
Six years of flus, colds, hurts that nobody had time to tenderly care for.
Six years of lying in bed alone every night and wondering if one day...maybe...someone would love him.

Six years for an orphan must feel like an eternity.  

So, this boy had been an orphan for 6 years.  Sometime during those 6 years, he went to America on a hosting program for orphans.  He spent 5 weeks in a Christian home, visited their church, met their Christian friends, and learned of their God.  At the end of the 5 weeks, he returned to his home country and never got word that anyone wanted to adopt him.  He lay in bed, knowing that some of his friends who had been hosted were now being adopted.  What in the world went through his head?  Do we dare even want to slip our feet into his shoes and try to imagine how he felt?

And, no matter how wonderful his experience was in America, he was again back in his orphanage with the knowledge that he was not adopted by his forever family.  Then, some time later, he was given the opportunity again to travel to American on another hosting experience.  Again, he spent 5 weeks with a host family and had a tremendous time.  He visited their church, met their Christian friends, learned again of this great God.  But again, he had to leave after the 5 weeks and return to his life at the orphanage.  And, again, he was not adopted.

Let me interject a couple of points I want to be clear about...

**Is the hosting program at fault?  NO!   They are WONDERFUL!  I very much line up with what they are doing and, in fact, have contacted one such hosting agency to see if I can work alongside them.  Hosting programs are really amazing ways of bringing these precious children into Christian homes, and the adoption rates are very high in these programs.  It's all's better than's RIGHT.  The hosting program is laying special bricks in this huge wall of orphan ministry.  They are using their bricks in amazing ways, and the wall NEEDS these brick layers to coordinate the hosting programs.

**Is the host family at fault?  NO!  Perhaps they were too old to adopt...or their health wouldn't allow it...or they didn't meet the income requirements for adoption...or whatever the reason.  Sometimes the door closes, not allowing certain people to adopt, through no fault of their own.  Sometimes being a host family is a key brick being placed in the wall of orphan ministry.  The wall NEEDS host families willing to bring these children into their homes, teach them about Jesus and advocate for forever families for them.  

But, today as I was praying in my secret place, the thought of those daisy chains came to mind.  Think about this for just a moment and try to keep your mind open and your defenses at ease...  How many churches did this child visit?  At least 2.  How many Christians were in those churches?  Let's say they were even smallish churches...we could guess at least 200 Christians.  How many Christian families did this child encounter on his 2 trips to America, with visits to friends' houses, church events, etc?  I cannot even guess, but we know it's many.

With all my heart, and without any mean tinge in what I'm saying, I want to simply ask of myself and any Christian who is reading this:  Where is the church?  Where are the ones who will rise up and honestly say, "Here am I, Lord...use me"?  Where are the Christians who will enter into this orphan's pain as if it's their own pain...the ones who will not rest until he is in a forever family...the ones who will open their own homes and be the Hands and Feet of Jesus that we so love to sing about and preach about and talk about over coffee?

Please don't get me wrong.  I've been repenting my own sins in this area, and I'm GRIEVED!  Where in the world is the church??  

We are busy making daisy chains.  We are making sure our worship music goes off without a hitch.  We are polishing up our sermons and lessons.  We are going to camps, workshops, seminars, and retreats to follow God.  We are busy with Christian aerobics classes, potlucks, classes and lock-ins.  We are reading many books, memorizing many Scriptures, and debating Creation -vs- Evolution.  We are so busy for God.  So busy that when an orphan walks right into our church building, we entertain him with music and send him away without ever once entering into his pain and asking ourselves, "Is it ME, Lord?  Is it my home you want to place him into?"

James 2:16 says, "If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

Matthew 25:40 says, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'."

How are we missing this???

We are busy making daisy chains.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned towards the ravine. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it was a rather crude noise. And if one of their group started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. "Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven't finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."  (excerpt from Amy Carmichael's essay).

How much is a life worth?  HOW MUCH IS A SOUL WORTH?

FORGIVE US, LORD!  These are YOUR children, and we act as though it's an option to care for them.  These orphans have now heard of You through their precious host families, but do they know that You are the Father to the fatherless?  Do they know that You set the lonely in families?  Do they know that it is OUR hands and feet that you use to place them into families?  Are these orphans experiencing this group of Christians actually DOING what You want them to love them as You loved us?  You adopted us through great suffering.  Are we too busy making daisy chains to be willing to do as You did?

Or are we merely playing church?

Dumb daisy chains.  Pointless daisy chains that will be gone tomorrow.

Oh how my heart is grieved!  Lord, forgive us.  Forgive me.

I will close with this quote from the book In the Arena, by Isobel Kuhn.  "It was clearly my duty.  I have heard some say that the need is not the call.  I do not understand that.  An obvious need is a call in any branch of human life.  The Good Samaritan did not need a special Bible verse miraculously shining upon him to indicate that it was God's Will he help the poor fellow who had fallen among thieves.  Where common sense clearly points out a duty, that is the voice of God.  We do not need any other, provided a higher duty is not claiming us."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remembering Gotcha Day

Exactly 2 years ago, we were in the orphanage in Taiwan.  Here's the very first memory I have of our youngest daughter.  We followed the case worker off of the elevator, and there was our pint-size princess playing with some toys.  They told her to wave to "Mama and Baba," and I snapped this first picture.

Ours was not the "Gotcha Day" you dream about.  Our daughter had changed "homes" 3 times, and there we were to uproot her once again.  She cried a pitiful cry when we first held her.  It was a very long and exhausting day for all of us.  She and Daddy took a much needed nap in the hotel room that evening.

But oh what a difference a family makes!  Look at this munchkin now.  Can you tell she's a happy girl?!    Oh yes, she knows she is LOVED and cherished!  And top that all off with some cute bows, and there you have the princess of our domain...

This morning (which is night time in Taiwan), I was thinking about how at that moment 2 years ago, our daughter was spending her very last night in an orphanage.  Her last night without a Mama and Daddy.  Her last night alone, with nobody to rock her to sleep if she had a bad dream.  Her last night as an orphan.  There's such beauty in seeing a child go from orphan to daughter and heir in one amazing moment in time!

And as my mind pondered the depth of that, I found a sickening feeling also rise to the surface.  What about all the others?  What about those who will go to sleep tonight crying in their pillows because they want a mom and dad?  What about those who are still waiting for their forever family to come get them?  What about those who are getting ready to age out of the orphanage and will soon find themselves with no job (and nobody willing to give them a job), no food, no home, no hope?

What about Oleg?

This precious boy finds himself back in his life as an orphan after a wonderful summer hosting program in the United States.  What is he thinking?  What is he looking forward to?  What did he eat today?  Are his sheets clean and fresh?  Did anybody say good morning when he got out of bed?

My mind visits him over and over.  A mixture of smiles and tears floods me as I remember him.

His first Happy Meal...

His first ice-cream-sundae-building party...  Look at that SMILE!!!  He helped me set everything up for the ice cream event, and he wanted to keep it a surprise for the other children.  He kept saying to me (as if we had the most scrumptious secret in the world that he could hardly wait to share with everyone): "ICE CREAM!!"  I had the very best time experiencing this alongside him.  (And, by the way, he helped me clean the whole mess up afterward too...without me ever asking for help!  He's a very sweet boy and a big helper!)  Did you expect that?

His first birthday party...

His first trip to buy new shoes...

And quite possibly his fist time to pretend to be a fighter pilot...

Look at that face.  Imagine the breath he breathes and the dreams he dreams and the hopes he dares to hope when he's alone in that bed in the orphanage.  THIS IS THE FACE of just one of the 143 million orphans out there that is still praying, hoping, pleading to his Heavenly Father to please send him a forever family.  He's not a statistic.  He's a living, breathing, real boy named Oleg.

As I remember so fondly our Gotcha Day with our daughter, I also long to go far beyond that.  I yearn to be God's instrument to help place many of these treasures into their forever families.

1) PRAY that God will indeed place the lonely in families, as His Word says.  We have that Word, and we need to boldly proclaim it!
2) TRUST that He will be faithful to do as His Word says.
3) BE WILLING AND AVAILABLE to be used by Him.  He places the lonely in families, and WE are His Hands and Feet.  Are WE willing to be the family He chooses for one of these precious treasures?  Or are we too busy, too comfortable, too afraid?

We are the Bride of Christ, and He has left these little ones in our care.  One day, I believe, we will have to give an answer to Him for what we did or didn't do for His children.  What we do to the least of these, we do to HIM.  That's quite sobering if you truly believe He means what He says.

** If you want to read more about Oleg or other orphans who are still awaiting forever families, visit the New Horizon site.