My mother was only one day old when she was abandoned by her parents. She grew up living in an orphanage and let's just say it wasn't the prettiest picture. She did, however, spend 21 years of her life there. Despite the abuse she faced, she grew up to be a woman of strength, character and love. She fell in love with and married my dad, the most wonderful man. He loved her in every way and made up for her painful past.
My parents have been a major inspiration in my life. Having absolutely no concept of a family, my mother teamed up with my father and raised me to be strong, independent and, at the same time, sensitive towards the needs around me. In both words and actions, they showed us how to love Jesus, and love like Jesus. My relationship with them moulded me into who I am. Not only did it make me realise the importance of having relationships like these, it also inspired me to impact the lives of children in the same way -- loving Jesus and loving like Jesus.
Our family spent most summers at the orphanage where my mother grew up. It has improved drastically over the years. I remember spending each day on the nursery playground with these beautiful babies in my arms and little toddlers running around. On that playground is where I met little Kamal, who came in malnourished, with a pot-belly. When I was five years old I begged my parents to adopt him. That memory still lives in my mind.
We often find comfort merely in the realisation that we have family. But it is a privilege that for many is too big a dream. To put a number to it, there are 150 million 'documented' orphans across the world. Missing in those figures are the 150 million street children, 1.2 million children who are trafficked each year, millions living in institutions, and the tens of thousands of children who are recruited and forced to fight as child soldiers. Global orphans statistics significantly underestimate the number of orphans worldwide and fail to account for many children that are among the most vulnerable, and most in need of a family.
The reality is that there are millions of orphaned children in our world today who deserve nothing less than our greatest efforts and, despite that, less than 1% of those kids are ever adopted. If we don't step in to make a difference, these kids will never know what it is to have family.
The bible in Isaiah 1:17 clearly instructs us to,
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."
God doesn't leave much room to decide if it is convenient or not, or whether we are "called to" help or not. He blatantly says, DO IT! The bible repeatedly directs us to care for orphans in both the Old and New Testaments. Adoption is a wonderful way to do this and is consistent with God’s plan. He says that He is a Father to the fatherless, and that He sets the lonely in families. He provides an example of adoption by adopting us. Adoption is one way of the many ways to care for these children, who are, in fact, waiting for us to.
The least we can do is consistently love one child who may not get that love if we wouldn't step in. Commit to being family to that one child down the street or the child selling flowers at the red light. We are called to be like Christ and this is what the Father of the fatherless stood for. Simply stated, if you believe something is true, you should be willing to act as if it were true. Our words and actions should be consistent with our beliefs.
Over the years, I've had the to honour to work among the less fortunate, abandoned and orphaned. I've worked in multiple slums teaching and reaching out to children, and also in various orphanages and homes for children; I've worked in all areas from management, supervision and teaching to cooking meals for them and putting them to bed. I consider myself blessed.
There have been moments of joy watching the kids relish a meal I make or celebrating their grades that we worked so hard for. I've also felt pain while I watch them burn with fever or go through heartbreak. Since I usually have a lot of children at a time, I've also had moments where I am convinced my mind will blow up with nine boys banging on the drums, slamming their guitars, screaming their lungs out and discovering multiple ways to make the microphone screech . . . all in the name of "jamming". And often I'm pushed to the very last strand of my patience with eleven girls having a mighty stubborn moment.
From adorable faces to dirty diapers, from moments of appreciation to teenage tantrums, from being showered with love to mood swings, I've experienced a fair share. At 24, with no husband or any biological children of my own, I've already tasted motherhood. Now when I look back, being a mother was what I was created to be.
In Mathew 18:1-5 the disciples asked Jesus,
"Who, then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."
My dream, further ahead, is to open my home up for kids who don’t have one. Not as an orphanage or shelter but as a family, raising them from infancy until they are adults, with strong foundations. I've very recently started a project to raise funds and support my work among underprivileged and abandoned children and women across Asia. I've hand drawn and designed a line of merchandise with the desire to share hope and encouragement. Eventually, I wish to see 'From Joy, With Love' grow to be a community that would provide love, joy, hope and employment for the underprivileged.
Currently I'm in Thailand where I help with a home for abandoned and orphaned children who have no hope for adoption. For now, I'm striving towards sharing with these little people I meet God's love in whatever capacity that reaches them.
Photo Credit: Unsplash