by Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care
I am honored to be on staff with World Orphans as the Director of Wholistic Care as well as a member of River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) in Maryville, TN. ROCC partners together with Fountain of Hope Church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya where 24 orphaned and vulnerable children are being cared for spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally in the context of family and through church partnership.
Precious Emily is part of a loving family now. I will never forget the first time I met her. She was painfully shy, withdrawn and fearful. It was clear that the damaging affects of horrid physical abuse and grave neglect had impacted her ability to make simple eye contact, connect with others or feel safe.
Children who have escaped this degree of trauma are deeply needful of special attention, patient love, and persistent care. The trauma inflicted upon Emily caused deep wounds that seemed irreversible and impenetrable. No child should have to experience such hardship, yet this is the plight of millions of children around the world. It causes me to cry out, “But, God!” And I’m reminded that God’s eye is certainly upon them.
Psalm 10:17 - O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.
World Orphans is committed to the needs and care of orphans through the church and to the wholistic care of children in families. It has been the love of FOH and their joyful partnership with ROCC that has acted to penetrate and crack through the devastating effects of abandonment and trauma. The love of Christ through the church has opened wide the door for children like Emily to belong to a family and experience the beautiful care of a spiritual mother and father along with others who participate in Emily’s continued healing and restoration.
I am preparing to lead another team from ROCC back to FOH where together, we will worship, pray, share meals, proclaim the Gospel, host a medical camp for the community, visit orphans and widows in their distress, and deepen the bonds of our friendship together. This is ROCC’s 5th partnership trip with FOH and there is great anticipation as we prepare our hearts to serve the community alongside each other in July.
One of the first faces I will look for when I to return to Kenya is Emily's. Caring for children like Emily is not simply pointing her 'towards heaven' but witnessing year after year, ‘heaven coming down' to her through the love of the church and the bond of family. This is a profound and miraculous act of God’s grace.
Colossians 1:18-20 - And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
World Orphans wholistic care of orphaned and vulnerable children is rooted in the reality that lasting transformation for the deepest physical and spiritual needs are found in the hope of Jesus. It was in the sacrificial and loving act of Jesus' death upon the cross and God’s power that raised Him from the dead that inaugurated forgiveness of sin and the hope of lasting restoration for those who believe. The Gospel was a historical event of Christ's death and resurrection and this redeeming love continues to act upon the plight of precious children like Emily.
Emily’s needs are being met physically. She doesn’t miss a day without eating and is receiving the nutrition she needs to grow. Emily is maturing in her relationship with Jesus and spends regular time in prayer. She attends a small private school where there is provision of tutoring and the extra help she needs to progress academically. Emily is receiving emotional attention and counseling in an effort to help her process her past and find healing for her broken heart.
Wholistic care enacted through the church is when eyes meet eyes, hands meet hands, wounded hearts heal, and trust is established through the context of loving relationship. Wholistic care is when the body of Christ acts to serve vulnerable children spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
It is in the act of loving someone and reaching into a broken heart that I see the face of God.
How do you see the face of God in your life? What are you then compelled to do as a responsive action of love and faith? We'd love to hear your thoughts.