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

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Details

As I write this, I am sitting in an airport watching people and wondering where they are going , where they came from, and what their individual story is. I wonder what events have occurred through their lifetime to bring them to this point and what people God has used through that process. Maybe there was one person that had an enormous impact on them that drastically changed the trajectory of their life. When I think about how someone can make such a profound change in the life of another human being I wonder, could I ever make an impact like that? I believe that this is the business God is in and if we have the desire to serve Him and willingness to allow Him to work through us, I must answer with an emphatic “yes.” Personally, I can’t think of many ways more powerful to impact a life than through adoption, which is certainly at the heart of God! Does this mean that He cares about ALL of the details? Of course he cares about the details, especially when it comes to the life of one of His precious children!

I only started working at Lifeline two months ago and one of the biggest things God has had to remind me of over and over again is that He is in control of all 143 million orphans in the world…He very much cares about the details! In my heart, I know this to be true but working in an environment where I see all of the details, all the hard work, all the paper work, and all of the logistics behind each adoption and foster care placement, it would be easy to quickly forget that God is in control of all these facets and so much more. I can imagine that someone who has been or is currently in the adoption/foster care process has likely struggled with some of these very same thoughts themselves. These families spend an enormous amount of time filling out paper work, going through training, reading books, answering questions, and I’m sure at times they feel as if the ultimate fate of what child will become a part of their family for eternity is up to a random conglomeration of themselves, social workers, agency workers, national workers, or even government officials. Yes, God chooses to use all of these people in this miraculous process and yes they have important roles to play, but God is leaving His fingerprints throughout the entire process if we are in accordance with His almighty will (including every single piece of paper). I believe we should work diligently and faithfully “as for the Lord and not for men (Col. 3:23)” on whatever part we play in the process, but remember that ultimately only God is in control—for after all, they are His children. What a blessing it is to serve a God who cares about everything from a precious child to a lifeless stack of papers!

Whitney White
International Education Counselor