Yesterday provided more peaks and valleys than the craziest roller coaster at any amusement park… a day of spiritual and emotional vertigo… so much so that I think it better to separate the day’s blog into two separate posts. (The second may be posted later in the day.)
Our first stop came at an orphanage for children with special needs. Not many of us knew exactly what to expect or even how to prepare. More than a few of us pictured those awful sanitarium-type institutions in Romania exposed in the late 1980s on a series of 20/20 television specials.
What we found astounded many. The orphanage pulsed with energy, fueled by the smiles of these precious children. The staff genuinely seemed to care, doting attention on children, moving their wheelchairs to ensure they had a good view of the program, and sitting right beside them during the assembly. The facilities, though a bit worn and faded by time, appeared to be more the adequate. (For example, in the recreation room, we found excellent physical therapy equipment for children with specific disabilities.)
But obviously a difference existed between these children and the children at the first three orphanages. Some kids sat in wheelchairs, with a leg or both missing. Others scurried about on crutches. A few had misshapen arms, hands, fingers, feet or toes. A number of these kids could not speak.
We all processed this reality in different ways. Some rolled up their sleeves and plowed right into the work at hand. Others faced a more difficult time — perhaps a child’s face reminded them of a family member or friend… or perhaps, at the outset, they could not see beyond the physical differences to focus on the child’s heart. This morning many of us were still dealing with the emotions of this single two-hour block in our schedule.
But despite their disabilities, at the core, these kids were just kids. Love and joy abounded in that place. Hugs and smiles were the common currency. These children took care of each other, encouraged each other, loved each other. You could not help but catch their contagious spirit of happiness. You go to minister to them and, in the process, your spirit is humbled and touched.
In March, our choir, in conjunction with HopeHouse International, held a fundraiser that netted almost $100,000. That money is specifically targeted to build three HopeHouse homes so that Christian families can adopt special needs children from THIS orphanage. There were potential adoptive parents there with us yesterday. Please be in prayer that, if it is God’s will, these couples will listen to the calling and open their hearts to adopt these children and give them permanent, Christ-filled homes.
I try to capture a variety of viewpoints when writing this blog, although sometimes the words lack attribution simply because they reflect the ideas of so many. Today, though, I want to quote Vince Poole, an elder in our church and a spiritual leader in our choir: “Yesterday God spoke to me, and I know it was God. He spoke to me about my relationship to Him. He is my God, but He is also my Father. And that changed my perspective on relationships and my responsibilities. Being at the orphanage, I had this epiphany: these aren’t Ukrainian children. They are my children. It broadened my
perspective on how we should relate to one another.”
“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'” Matthew 12:46-50.
More to come about the worship service last night…