I’m six weeks away from this trip. It feels unbelievable. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity. The team leader keeps sharing videos of the orphanages we will be visiting (which, of course, promptly make me cry). I feel a growing heart to minister to these kids.
The purpose of the trip is to love these children. I am amazed at that beautiful thought. My life is incredibly complex and yet I have the opportunity to share Christ’s love with His little ones. The team is going to make sure the forgotten feel remembered, the precious feel love, and the broken feel hope. The purpose is simple, I know. It’s so simple that it may be almost offensive to some, and certainly audacious. I have struggled with that. Shouldn’t I be “doing” something? Fixing something? Building something?
I’m going to love these children. Because that’s what God has called me to do.
The Orphan Problem
There are more than 145 million orphans worldwide. Of these, 42 million are in Africa. (Just for perspective, that’s nearly twice the population of Florida. Imagine one state being made up of all the orphaned children in Africa.) One-third of these orphans are a result of the AIDS crisis in Africa. In Ethiopia and Rwanda, there are nearly 6 million orphans. Six million children. The sad truth of the matter is that most of these children will not be adopted. They will live in an orphanage until they are too old to live there anymore.
What I’ve come to realize as I’ve been praying for this trip is that God is all about orphans. In fact, His whole plan for salvation is for orphans (us) to be made sons and daughters of God through Christ. I think there’s some very real about that comparison and about valuing, appreciating, and loving the orphan. We love because He first loved us.
Going to love
So, this trip is to make these children feel special, to feel loved, to feel hope. We’re going to serve these children. How do you serve children, but to make them laugh, give them joy, and help them to feel special? We are going to play games, do crafts, run around and help these kids laugh (and, of course, give them treats) because we want to minister to them at their level. Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5). This trip is all about receiving these children. Moreover, it is a Biblical act of “pure religion” to visit orphans (James 1:27).
A secondary part to this trip is bringing things that the orphanages need. They’re still compiling a list, but items include clothing, shoes, formula, blankets, etc. In fact, our checked bags are already “reserved” for items to bring to the orphanages. We will be packing our personal items in our carry-on luggage.
This trip is to help support or strengthen relationships between US organizations (especially churches) and orphanages in Africa. One vision that Visiting Orphans has is to encourage church sponsorship of orphanages. This is one way to support their vision. (One really cool story about this purpose is described here.)
As a child ambassador for World Vision, I hope to use this experience to help plead the case of the orphan when I get back. I know that this trip is going to change me. I will use this experience to further the case of the orphaned, defenseless, the abandoned.
I still need to raise about $1,000 to support travel costs to Africa. If you feel led to support these expenses, check out this post to find out how you can financially partner with me on this trip.
Some people feel like this isn’t a trip that directly benefits the kids. That’s okay. You can still support in a way that will benefit the orphanages directly through a financial contribution. Community Baptist Church has offered to match contributions dedicated to the orphanage dollar-for-dollar (up to $250). That means for every dollar you donate to support the orphanage, CBC will match you with one dollar. If you feel like you could support the trip in this way, you can send a check made out to Community Baptist Church (designate “orphanage fund – Carla Shows” in the memo line to make sure it goes to the matching fund) to:
Community Baptist Church
956 South Old Dixie Highway
Bunnell, FL 32110
Finally, as soon as I know exactly what the orphanages need, I will be soliciting donations. If you’d like to give a tangible item, I will update my blog with a list of items I will be collecting.