By Sheri Mellema – Advocacy There she stood with red rimmed eyes, tears about to spill onto her cheeks. She was young, and as I awkwardly attempted to comfort her, I was instantly drawn to this girl’s innate and very palpable sense of compassion. “What do we do?” she asked. “There are too many orphans to help, and I feel like there is no hope,” she cried.
Our encounter unfolded at the county fairgrounds at the Big Ticket Festival in northern Michigan just a few weeks ago. This year the Christian music celebration featured World Orphans, and the speakers graciously brought awareness to our ministry from the main stage. We had designed an “experience tent” that visually and audibly invited fairgoers to walk in the shoes of an orphan living in a tent city in Port Au Prince, Haiti. The real tent city emerged after the earthquake in 2010, because tarps, rusty sheets of metal, sticks, tattered material, and cardboard were the only resources left from which to create makeshift tents. There are currently over 300,000 people still living in the tent city.
This dear girl that I was speaking with had gone through the experience tent and was overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the problem. As I made an effort to redirect her thoughts to the orphans that ARE being cared for, I silently began to wrestle with my own fearful sentiments: “Where do we begin? With multitudes of abandoned children in this world, how can we see past the numbers and resurrect hope?”
The girl and I continued our conversation, and I found myself saying to her that each and every child placed in loving, home-based care is a life that can be transformed. And I think that focusing on one child at a time is exactly where hope prevails. I looked into the eyes of this girl that was facing me and thought, “What if it was her? What if she was the one orphan that was rescued that day?” What elation that would bring to our Father’s heart!
If the fear of the enormity of the struggle immobilizes us, then despair has won. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” Hope doesn’t disappoint! Jesus came to redeem and transform every single life, one at a time!