Friday, August 30, 2013

A Mother's Heart

     Living here in Ghana, many know me now as “Mommy Robin.”    Little hands weave into mine constantly and I am the semblance of a Mom to many.  At times, this role is enjoyable.  I kiss little ones on their heads telling them over and over how much God loves them.  I look at report cards and celebrate the successes, but also challenge kids to improve in needed areas.  I laugh and enjoy the tight hugs frequently given when we visit the children.

     This week, our family is staying at Nyame Dua orphanage in Bolgatanga, Ghana.  We traveled to the northern tip of the country to be with these precious kids.  I have loved being here.  Waking up to children laughing outside the window while sweeping the compound is music to my ears.  Listening to Braden communicate in his strong Ghanaian accent makes me smile.  Watching Franklin pick up Hagar, Sweetie, and Assibi all at once reveals his heart.  Seeing Weston do all of the “dance moves” to the songs while hidden in the background demonstrates how safe he feels.  Listening to Mason communicate to the boys with love and authority defines the respect he has received in his time serving here.  Our adopted son, Godwin, blends in with everyone here, playing and laughing. He is no longer fearful that we will abandon him.  (When we first arrived in Ghana, Godwin would not allow us to set him down whenever we were at an orphanage.  Now he literally runs to play with the children.)  As the mom of my boys, I have loved to see them interact here.

     However, my mother’s heart also longs for all of the children here to have what our boys have - a mother and a father who love them.  I have this as a hope for each of the children here.  But God has been working on my heart in many ways recently to show me there is another place where hope is found.. 

     Yes, a family is a gift.  Whether through biological birth or adoption, a child raised in a healthy, in tact, Christ-centered family has been blessed.

     While we have been staying in the orphanage, I’ve noticed the character qualities being instilled in the children.  Daddy Paul, Auntie Grace, and Auntie Juliana are each loving the children here to the best of their abilities.  They are training them well to know and serve the Lord. The children all have daily responsibilities which they do without complaint – sweeping, washing clothing, washing dishes, cooking, etc...  The older children help care for the younger ones, carrying them and shepherding them from place to place.  The home is neat and orderly because the children seem to cherish their few belongings.  (Though the leather has nearly worn off, they are still using the soccer ball we brought them nine months ago!)  Overall, the children don’t argue often but treat one another with patience.   One hour each evening is devoted to worship and prayers.  This devotional time has been led by the older children while we have been here.  It is impressive to witness. 

     The children here seem content.  They seem to know they are loved.  They seem to understand God’s love for them.  The people who operate this home are striving to raise up secure, competent, faithful men and women of God.  They seem to be teaching that God is the answer for these children in their circumstance. 

Lunchtime!  Rice and Stew.  Yum!

     This is a message orphans should hear.  The statistics reveal that very few, overall, will know the hope of adoption into a family.  While as a Christian, as an adoptive mom, and as someone witnessing the daily life of orphans in Ghana, I want to BEG every professing Believer to sincerely seek God in faith about the possibility of adoption. However, I also believe that we are called as Believers to care for the orphan and widow where they are.  Right now, we are to care for them in the orphanages.  Right now, we are to care for them on the streets.  Right now, we are to care for them in the villages.  Right now, we are to stand in the spiritual gap for them and PRAY for them.  God has commanded us to do that in His Holy Word.

     I don’t know the answers.  But I know the God who does.  HE is the ANSWER for these children to live with hope and assurance of their future.  I pray for those children who will never know the love of a family, that GOD can and WILL fill in the void.  I pray He will give them confidence that they are never alone though many days they may feel alone.   I pray the kids living in orphanges during their childhood years, can turn to each other when they need the support of a family.  I pray for the children who will live their lives on the street or trafficed without ever even knowing the comfort of a home - much less a family.

     For those families who have stepped out in faith to adopt, my mother’s heart says, “Thank you.”   I want all of these kids I am living with right now to have someone tuck them in at night, to kiss their boo-boos, to wipe away their tears, to hold them when they need it, to teach them about life, and to provide shelter from the harsh world.  Oh, I long for them to each know the assurance of love when I see the distant look creep into their eyes.  This haze over their faces sometimes tells me they are disconnecting and wtihdrawing.  

     For those serving orphans, my heart says, “Thank you” to you as well. You truly are giving your lives away by loving the forgotten and abandoned.  The cost of serving these children is high.  Working through the initial trauma, praying to God to provide food to feed 40 children when there is only enough for 20, stretching resources to meet basic needs, correcting disrespectful behaviors, navigating adolescence for many children at once, providing needed structure, operating a full home at capacity and then being faced with another child who needs to come in, etc…  Those truly giving their lives for these kids have been CHOSEN for a high calling.  Please pray for them.  They need our prayers.  We need to be praying for more people to serve daily in the harsh reality of many orphans.

      In Ghana, there is one orphan for every 23 people.  It is estimated that over 1,000,000 children are orphaned in this country.  There are 400,000 children in America waiting for adoption in the foster care system.  With a population of over 300,000,000,  there is one orphan for approximately every 1,000 people in the United States.

     Ghana has just announced a temporary “ban” on adoptions.  We are hopeful that this ban will be lifted within a few months, but there are no guarantees.  Children with special medical needs may still be adopted, but the rest must wait until further notice.  This restriction has caused me to look more closely on the reality that so many orphans will never be adopted through varying circumstances.  We advocate for adoption and believe in the blessing of a forever family for a child. Please understand, we advocate for adoption!  However, continuing to see the same faces again and again has raised the question, What about children who will never know the gift of adoption?  Where is their hope to be found?  

     The action of the church to "care for the orphan" must extend beyond adoption advocacy with a broader awareness of orphan needs worldwide.  Annually, approximately 250,000 children are placed into adopted families.  With 143,000,000 - 210,000,000 orphans worldwide - the number of adoptions doesn't even reach 1% of the need.

     Throughout scripture, we are urged to care for the orphan.   And, we must.

      Would you please pray for the men and women serving orphans in the world?  Would you stand in the gap for children who have no one fighting for them spiritually?  Would you please pray that they will know their Heavenly Father, even if they never know their biological father?  Or an earthly father?  Would you please pray that God’s love will be felt by them as something REAL, TANGIBLE, and TRUE? you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.

Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:10b, 17-18

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