God commands His people to care for every child. He has called us to orphan care. We must be informed about the task at the hand. Read this article for more information about the orphan crisis in Eastern Europe.
Sometimes I just weep at the reality that God has given me a platform. He has allowed me to share, in this small space, a piece of the world He is at work in. I have the incredible privilege of sharing stories of people God is using, work He is doing, and the beautiful lives that have been touched as a result. This is a sincere privilege and it has truly taught me so much! This week’s article is no exception!
Welcome back to the Welcome Home Series! If this is your first time here, I’m so glad to have you! This series is all about celebrating the welcome that is adoption, foster, and orphan care! We discuss the beautiful things God is doing to care for children worldwide, seek to inform, and give you resources for how you can be involved at some level.
This story is not meant to make you feel comfortable. This story is meant to inform you about the real situation of orphans around the world. I will not lie, I felt actual physical pain reading Stacey’s words and you probably will too. However, I have come to realize that being uninformed doesn’t accomplish anything toward the end of real problems. Being informed is the best place to start.
I pray these words inform, convict, and give you great resolve. There is a problem. We must do something.
These are the questions I asked Stacey:
Why do you think adoption and orphan care is important? How has this changed you?
Here is her response…
Simply stated, Orphans DIE. Yes, in Eastern Europe, 50 percent of orphans will not reach their 2oth birthday. A staggering statistic that has crystallized into faces and stories within my mind. Two years ago, I walked into an orphanage in Eastern Europe to adopt my son, and left hundreds of faces behind. It felt like an unfair roulette of choice, as I scooped up my son and fled from his orphanage. I rushed up those stone steps in a vain attempt to leave behind what I had experienced and saw within those cold and sterile rooms; but what I wanted to leave behind actually came home with me. My son became a constant reminder of the children left to die within the cold stone walls. As my son fought the trauma and the pain he had lived for years, I was forced to face what he had endured. I could not sterilize or sanitize the torture that was inflicted physically and emotionally on a four-year-old boy. I could not let borders, nationalities, or geographical lines blur what I knew in my heart was true. Orphans die and they die alone.
The day I heard the silence of a building filled with children, touched the broken child caged in a crib, and breathed in the misery of loneliness. That was the day that I became responsible to act. That was the moment that God dropped the scales from my eyes and thrust me headlong into the world of the Fatherless and marginalized. That day I realized that my suburban bubble is so far from the real world, that it’s scary. And what is even scarier was to realize that the comfort I was living in; the American dream I was pursuing was hollow. In that moment my whole life sat suspended and I realized that I had bought the lie, I was not living the American dream, I was living for myself. I was drinking from the cup of the privileged life and it tasted bitter.
There are many days that I look at him and cannot imagine how he has survived. How in the world did my son, Israel, live through 4 years of horror? How has he come out the other side with even a semblance of normalcy? I spent a grand total of 13 hours at his orphanage spread over the span of 5 days and I am changed. Just my brief exposure has blanketed my heart with a cloying darkness every time I remember. It seems to be the little things that get me, that make me relive those 13 hours, 780 minutes, or 46,800 seconds. A sound, a smell, even silence take me back to his darkness.
Israel’s darkness is filled with urine and bleach, silence and monotony, loneliness and unchanging routine. Days and night caged within a crib, quietly marking time with the passing of dark and light, liquid meals and diaper changes. No children’s laughter or friendly voices, just the silence of an orphanage that remains dark, even in the light of day. This is the darkness that made me wish the visits in his orphanage were shorter. I am ashamed to admit that I dreaded every visit and mentally struggled through every moment I sat beside him. When I walked into that building, every fiber of my being wanted to run. My soul oppressed and weary, would return to my hotel after a two hour visit, where I collapsed in exhaustion and slept until evening. Each visit that week brought new horrors, culminating in a visit to what is called the laying room, which was filled with dying children. Tiny glass cells containing infant-sized children, who were not silent. No, the rooms were punctuated with moans and cries from babies who could not move and their bodies conformed to the hard mattress pads with bed sores to the bone. Enlarged heads and seeping wounds. This is what I can’t unsee, can’t unhear, can’t UNDO. This is what I am responsible to share, because it lives in my head every moment of the day. Orphans die and they die alone.
God Is With the Unknown, Unwanted Child
It is a fact that God delights in working with the broken and the lost. He sees the orphan and He is sitting right there with them in the dark. God sat with my son for four years in that dark place. God sat with an unknown, unwanted child and marked time with a sun that rose every morning and a moon that came each night. He sat with Israel and waited, because He had already whispered adoption to the heart of a mommy across the world. A mommy who was terrified to bring home a child that was so broken. And maybe I was the one truly living in the dark, the darkness of contentment and apathy. How far away are we from God when we have built our pretty, clean alters and place God in our polished and pretty places? Maybe we sit there and never realize that He is not sitting with us. Maybe God is sitting and waiting for us to hear a whisper, a calm voice beckoning us to the dark places. He wants us to leave our polished lives and faithfully step into the dark places to rescue and ransom lives. And that is where God met me, He met me in the broken places and gave me a direction.
God delights in working with the broken and the lost, because He is working in me. This year we started our non-profit called Lost Sparrows. We are excited to be supporting the deinstitutionalization of orphans in Eastern Europe and helping train the foster care system. Our belief is that every child deserves a family. This summer (June 2018), we will be training and speaking in Bosnia and Bulgaria to foster parents, orphanage staff, and churches. We are so excited to see how God will use Lost Sparrows.
I never truly left the orphanage that day; my heart is still there. I hope you will join us in prayer and support, at www.lostsparrow.org. You can also follow me on my blog at www.ransomforisrael.com.
I cannot wait to see how God uses this family and ministry He has given them, I am prayerfully considering all of her words and I sincerely hope you will do the same!
For other stories about how God is working by welcoming children home, check out Welcome Home: #1Less Orphan in Ghana, Africa and “Beautiful and Gloriously Messy” A Real Life Story about the Miracle of Adoption