Darla, Christella, and their mom were trapped in the rubble of the January 2011 earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, unable to get out for some time. Their father/husband died in the earthquake and the family who had little before the earthquake now was left with nothing. Both of the girls have scars from being covered in cement and rock. Christella, who broke her jaw, is unable to open her mouth more than a quarter inch. Through this tragedy their family has found a way to survive and build a one-room tent home in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.
Both Darla and Christella are “vulnerable children”. As single orphans, not only are they too poor to afford education, food, medical care or other daily necessities, but there is little hope for their future without a steady job for their mother and no father to help support them. Typically a few things happen in these situations - the children become very sick and possibly die from malnutrition and lack of medical care; the mother gives the children up to an orphanage or someone else who might be able to care for them better; or they barely find a way to survive. If they survive, it is very likely that the cycle of poverty, lack of education, and spiritual, physical, and emotional wounds continue generation after generation.
These are common situations all over Haiti and all over the world. We find countless children and families that are not lazy or incapable of taking care of themselves, but are simply born into extremely difficult situations and have been given little to no resources or opportunity to change their lives. This is so difficult to get my mind around because from the time I was born, I was provided everything I needed, and opportunities to make something of myself were overwhelmingly available.
I believe God’s heart breaks for children like Darla and Christella, and I believe that the church’s heart should break for them as well. They are the people in need that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25:40 when he says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” When we care for people like Darla and Christella we are caring for Jesus. And who better to care for these kids than the local church who cannot only give them bread and water, but can tell them about the bread of life and the living water!
Because of Christians who have decided that these people matter, and churches that have decided they want to be part of caring for orphans and vulnerable children, we have been able to care for Darla, Christella, and many more children and families like them. Even more incredible, is that thousands of children and families like this one are regularly hearing and believing the gospel through the local church in their community. God is using the church all around the world to answer the prayers of people in need of someone to care and the hope only found in Jesus.