Over the past year, as the Lord has been breaking my heart for the things that break His, He has really expanded my view on reaching the Fatherless and what it means for me personally. I began asking the Lord “How does James 1:27 apply to ME and OUR family?” I have learned much and, although some of it has been painful, it feels as if my heart has grown 10x. My eyes and my heart are more open than ever to the all inclusive gospel as Jesus intended it to be. That’s how it is supposed to be, right? The Good News is supposed to reach ALL. And WE were intended to be the conduits for it here on this earth. So, why do so many of us leave the Gospel sitting in our padded comfortable church seats on Sunday morning? I don’t have all the answers and am definitely not an authority on this, but I do have a couple of ideas. Just from my own experience.
First, too many of us are afraid to get out of our comfort zones. We are too unwilling to move past all of our doubts and fears and take a risk. I had to lay out all of my questions, uncertainties, and apprehensions and look at them in the face. Then, I had to knowingly take them on, despite the cost. I had to accept that it was gonna hurt and do it anyway. Most importantly, I had to believe that God was working for my good and that I, and possibly others, would be missing out on blessings if I didn’t take the risk. Y’all, it is a heavy burden. But Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) He will carry the burden for us if we let him.
I went to Shepherd’s Field knowing that my heart was going to HURT. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to undo what the Lord did in me while I was there. I knew my heart would forever be broken for the children I met, as well as orphans worldwide, and I was deeply afraid. I did it anyway. And they have a piece of my heart I will never get back. As it should be.
I made it about halfway through the trip before I had my breakdown. I stood in the shower and just ugly cried, begging “God just take this burden from me, cause my heart can’t take it anymore.” He didn’t remove it from me and I wouldn’t want Him to. But, The burden did feel lighter. Now let me clarify that it didn’t feel lighter in the sense that He took part of it away. It’s more like Jesus is walking alongside of me helping to carry the other end of this heavy piece of furniture that I couldn’t even begin to handle on my own anyway. It takes this brave “let it go and bring it on” attitude if we truly want to BE the gospel in a hurting world.
Second, many of us tend to see this big huge grand need and feel so overwhelmed and blinded by it that we can’t see the small things we can do in big ways to help the greater need. Part of this is because many people struggle to assess their abilities and gifts and then think outside of the box as to how we can use them to reach people. As I began to really pray into HOW I could use my gifts, in tangible ways in the here and now, God began to show me that there were smaller things I could do in an effort to make some kind of difference in this world.
Yes, one of the ways I could serve was the mission trip. Another was simply serving at a Lifeline Kids Camp this summer where 10 orphans were brought from China to Madison, Al to be showered with the Love of Christ. This opportunity allows people to interact with and get to know these children on a personal level so that they can be better advocated for, in order that forever families would be found for them. It also allows the children to receive basic attention they may not receive otherwise, like a dental check up and eye exam. They even get a taste for what our culture here is like and see some of the exciting sights in the area. It is a great opportunity. Basically, my 3 children and I played with a few other adults and these children for an afternoon. It was simple and it was a joy to watch my children embrace these children regardless of the language barrier. We all just fell in to play. My experience is that some good ole fashioned bubbles speak the same language to all kids. If you find yourself interested, check out the information on future camps here: http://lifelinechild.org/kidscamp/
The most recent way God enabled me to “Care for the Orphan” was extra fun and it hit close to home for me. I got to use all of my favorite gifts, the ones that I feel He wired especially in me to be unique things I can share with the World. This is how I used my art abilities to make a small step toward the Orphan Crisis…
I have a niece who is by no means an orphan, but does have unique life circumstances that make her have similar questions that an orphan would have. Corinne has been raised by my parents (her grandparents) for much of her life because her biological parents have had life circumstances that made it difficult for them to do it themselves. Her biological mom (my sister) has also been involved off and on throughout her life as she has been well and able. This has been difficult for Corinne to understand and weather. More at some times than others. She has lots of questions and it’s difficult to know how to answer them well. So my parents went in search of books and there are very few resources to help children in this area. I wanted to help and they needed a book. I saw a simple need, that I might possibly be able to fill. That simple. I knew that ultimately all Corinne, along with every other child in the world, wants to know is that she is loved. That was my goal. It was my mission.
So, I went home and put a pen to paper and just wrote. I had always dreamed of illustrating a children’s book and I am pretty creative. I could write a children’s book, right?!? Wait, what?!? I am not an author. I’ve never done this before. But, it was like the words just poured out. I wrote most of it all in one night, and then completed it after my trip to China. I hoped that this book would speak to any child that has experienced some kind of displacement situation. I knew that being at Shepherds Field would give me new perspective. And it did. For the rest of the summer, I completed writing, illustrated, and then self-published “Wren’s New Nest“. It is a small gift that I could give to Corinne and my sister and my parents to help them walk this life. But, it is bigger than that. For now, it is my small drop in the bucket. This book is a tangible way that I could use what I have, when I have it, to make a small difference in what I hope could be the lives of many.
That’s really all God asks us to do. He entrusts us each with gifts according to our abilities and just asks that we be brave and say “yes” with what we have when we have it. We tend to think we don’t measure up, aren’t ready enough, don’t know enough, and aren’t able. But, historically God has used the most unlikely to advance the kingdom. So, I encourage, and better yet challenge, you to take inventory of your gifts and get out of the padded comfort of your Sunday morning church seat and ask yourself, and more importantly ask God, “What is MY drop in the bucket?”
You can check out my book here: