When I was offered the opportunity to travel to Romania in the mid-1990’s to participate in a short term mission trip, I never imagined that experience would have such a profound impact on my life. Honestly, my desire during that time was to visit a post-communist country and to experience life in its culture of recovery. I did not go with an open mind and a heart of compassion anticipating that something unimaginable would happen.
But as I walked into that experience, my life would be transformed forever as I witnessed children in living conditions that were entirely unacceptable. In my life I had seen poverty but now I was coming face to face with a level of suffering that I never imagined I would ever be exposed.
The words of Jesus echoed in my mind after one particular encounter as recorded in John 14:18; “I will not leave you as orphans.” I remember vividly the day I held a boy who was dying, and it was paralyzing to know that there was nothing I could do. The worker even screamed at me to put him down because “I was giving him hope.” But in those few moments in time that my eyes locked with his; it was if he was asking me, “where have you been?” I put him down and I walked out of the room and outside of the building. The smell and the scene were so horrible that a friend who was with me walked out and immediately vomited.
I realize now that the time for me was a moment to respond. It was time for me to say that I want my life to count for the sake of these children. Children are to be loved, nurtured, and raised to know that they are valued. To witness children being brought into this world without any care for their development, much less any care that they are valued children of God was difficult for me to see.
This Sunday is “Orphan Sunday.” Over the last twenty years, I have had the privilege of helping countless orphans through the ministry of Remember the Children. In 2004 my wife and I responded with an even greater commitment by adopting our two girls out of a remote orphanage in Siberia, Russia. All of this life change came to me simply because I was open to going and serving.
Is your heart open to responding to God’s call to care for those the world tends to forget? (James 1:27)
As we approach orphan Sunday maybe you could sponsor a child to give him/her an opportunity for a better life. Maybe God is calling you to open your home to increase your family by taking in an orphan that needs the opportunity for a family with a mom and dad. James not only challenges us in 1:27 to care for those the world tends to forget, he even goes so far to state that our faith/religion is pure and faultless when we see others as God sees them. I invite you to invest in the life of a child that needs you. I promise, your life will never be the same… and quite honestly, neither will the child’s. The invitation is there, “change your world… one child at a time!”
Written by: Andy Baker, Executive Director