Saturday, November 7, 2015

Strength Based Orphan Care: HOPE

The other day I pulled into the orphanage with my little twin babies, Hanna and Sophia. I was promptly greeted by a few of the boys who were playing basketball in the court. They helped me get the girls out of their car seats and politely escorted them to the basketball court while strategically defending them from the incoming soccer balls.  I sat and observed as one of the older boys held Hanna close to him, gave her a big kiss on the cheek and just stared into her eyes with a goofy smile on his face. Although they are not the majority, this boy in particular is a double orphan who has no ties to his biological family. But that afternoon, I saw tenderness and selflessness from a boy who was once horribly abused when he was Hanna's age. And it dawned on me right then and there. Taking care of orphans shouldn't exclusively be about detecting hurts, assessing pain and elaborating recovery plans. Taking care of orphans shouldn't look like boot camp where adults are large and in charge and it definitely shouldn't look like Disneyland where they bounce from one entertaining ride to the next. I believe that holistically taking care of orphans should look more like that Sunday afternoon: choosing to give these kids a chance. It will often include taking risks and giving them opportunities they don't deserve and most likely won't be grateful for, but as we look into each child and seek to discover their God-given strengths, talents and aptitudes, I believe that we will be empowering them to not only "get over" their past abuse and neglect, but to become people that are famous for the grace in their lives and the hope that pours out of them. Day to day life at an orphanage is really hard and it is easy to focus on the negative things that are going on all around you. Children throw fits, house parents have nervous breakdowns, teenage girls shoot dirty looks and more than a couple passive-aggressive teenage boys partake in dramatically ungrateful and selfish rants. But I read in my bible that we serve a God of hope; not a God who rolls his eyes at us or even considers giving up on anyone no matter how ungrateful or selfish we are. To the extent that we allow His spirit to fill us, we are going to be overflowing with this powerful HOPE that has the potential to transform any life (Romans 15:13).

So I call out to my fellow co-workers wherever you are on the orphan care spectrum.What we do is really hard. Taking care of kids from hard places is not for the faint of heart, but I guarantee that none of us obeyed God's calling in this because we thought it would be perpetual fun and effortless bliss. So let's ask God to allow us to see our kids through a lens of hope. What are their strengths? What are they gifted at? What can I do to foster those God-given gifts instead of punishing their misguided manifestations? Brothers and sisters, it is EASIER to see the bad stuff, but thank the good Lord that we aren't called to do "easy". It's time we start thinking of our kids from broken homes and vulnerable situations as little vessels brimming with potential and chosen by God. They are victims of horrible crimes and abuses but they are also the elect of an extremely jealous God to whom we have the privilege of interceding on their behalf. Jesus will break the generational chains that have so effectively enslaved their parents and the ones before them. They will be the beginning of a generational transformation rendering their own children untouched by the past. They will be free because CHRIST has set them free. I am starting to believe this. I am opting to see these kids through a lens of hope. For the sake of all the kids we take care of and the generations that are to come. I urge you to do the same.

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