Thursday, October 6, 2011

Esperanza – The Hopes and Dreams of the Orphan

Bogota, Columbia - On a nondescript street in the heart of Bogota stands 6 individual housing units scattered within the neighborhood. To a casual observer, you may believe that these units contain single families or a few multiple families, until you walk inside. Once inside, you find that these units are the homes of some 25 to 30 children who are being protected from the streets; from hunger, abuse, and the plague of being without a family.

Each unit is home to an age-segregated gender of children and within each unit is a small, dimly lit closet which contains all of the clothing, shoes, sheets, and worldly possessions belonging to these clusters of 25. Each child is relegated to a cubbyhole of about 4 cubit feet, and within these cubbies, each child has their own handmade, colored, wooden box.

This was the scene I experienced last week on the final day of our 6 day trip to Columbia. This was the very last orphanage we would visit before flying back home to the states, and we had almost canceled this stop for the sake of time. As I stood in this small closet, I couldn't take my eyes off of these multi-colored boxes. I was intrigued as to their purpose.

Raul, our trusty teammate, asked the director of the orphanage to please explain the meaning of these boxes to our team. She walked back into the closet, removed one of many boxes from a shelf, and clutched it in her hands. She explained in a soft Spanish the significance of these boxes.

"This is the only thing that truly belongs to our children. These boxes are the only thing they will keep. They are intensely personal to each child, and we have a rule that no one but the child who owns this box may ever open them or examine the contents inside until and if that child is adopted. Inside these boxes contain their most important trinkets and inside these boxes contains their hopes and dreams written upon slips of paper."

As I stared at the small box, possibly 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and 3 inches deep, I couldn't help but wonder what the owner of this box had written. What were the hopes and dreams of these little boys that filled the four walls of this home? Did they hope to sail the seas or climb mountains? Did they hope to play sports, to have a career, or to have a family? Did they dream that they could have a car, travel the world, or conquer battles? I was mesmerized by the contents of these precious boxes.

We asked the director, what - in her 12 years - had been some dreams she had discovered placed within the boxes. Were there certain hopes or dreams that seemed to be common or seemed to stand out? Then she told us, the number one dream in all of the boxes, for all the kids, no matter age or gender, was to have a family or to restore their broken families.

"O 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 10:17-18

May the Lord fulfill the dreams of these orphans to not only have an earthly family, but may these children find the hope of a Father whose adoption is perfect and eternal. May these children know the love of a God who allows our spirit's to cry out Abba, Father. May they come to know the Savior who says in John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Over 150 small boxes, on a nondescript street in Bogota, Columbia contain the hopes (Esperanza) and dreams of a fraction of those orphans living worldwide, but they poll the hearts of the 143 million orphans better than the Barna group, Gallup, and Rasmussen could do collectively. They show us that children were meant for families.

But it also shows us something about our own orphaned hearts. We were meant for a family. Our true dreams should not be for riches, wealth, prominence, power, or recognition, but for the fellowship with a Father who does not disappoint and for a life built upon displaying His glory to the world around us.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Isaiah 29:11-13

Has the Lord put your family in a place where you could adopt or foster a precious child in need and in so doing meet their biggest dream? Has the Lord burdened you with his command in James 1:27 to care for orphans in distress? If so, partner with Lifeline today. Visit to donate to the cause, to apply to adopt, to sign up for a trip through our (un)adopted ministry by visiting orphans in need, to apply to be a foster parent for a child in US foster care, to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans, and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to meet the hopes and dream of the fatherless.

"For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever." Psalm 9:18

Oh beloved, will you allow God to use you to impact the life of a child? Please do not hesitate to give Lifeline a call because we are here...

On behalf of the orphans and fatherless.

Herbie Newell
Executive Director
Lifeline Children's Services
giving children a hope and a future
twitter: @hmnewell

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