Most orphans don’t have curly red hair and freckles…

orphan – (n) a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents

My entire life I’ve feared the death of my parents. No one has supported me more, loved me more, or taken better care283670_3138899200926_1422215904_n of me. The thought of one of them passing used to bring me to tears. It was also something that kept me from serving overseas where God was calling me, but I’ve found a peace within the last six months. I’ve had 32 amazing years with my parents. That’s much more than many people get.

In four days we leave for Zambia where we’ll be working with Lifesong for Orphans. My heart is already breaking for these children who have lost both parents, usually to HIV/AIDS. Can you even imagine? As if survival wasn’t tough enough in a place like Zambia, they have to face the world as orphans.

Not saying it’s any easier for orphans in America, but at least orphans here often have other family members that can take them in. Zambia has a life expectancy of around 49 years. There usually aren’t older family members to take care of the orphaned children.

Our typical view of orphans comes from movies like Annie. Wow did I love Annie, her curly red hair and freckles when I was a little girl. I listened to the soundtrack so many times that I wore out the tape. The movie also led me to believe that all orphanages were run by women like the alcoholic Miss Hannigan.

Luckily, that’s typically not the case. That’s definitely not the case at Lifesong for Orphans, where their motto is “Bringing Joy and Purpose to Orphans.” The people who work for the organization have dedicated their lives to making someone else’s life better- the orphans.

God couldn’t have been more clear in the Bible about how Christians should treat orphans:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

7980_3138908681163_1818934831_nThere are many, many more verses in which God addresses the fatherless and how we should help them. Maybe that’s by sponsoring an orphan, visiting orphans, or financially supporting missionaries and mission trips… there’s something you can do to help.

I’m so glad Lifesong for Orphans brings the message to the Zambian orphans that they do have a Father in heaven who loves them very much. I can hardly wait to give them hugs with hopes that they’ll feel God’s love in the midst of my embrace.

Photos courtesy of Janeth Ibarra.

We may not care, but I’m glad someone does…

Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to help. God gave me a heart for the poor, especially theIMG_3029 poor in other countries. When I see poor people, my heart breaks. I don’t question why they are poor or accuse them of being lazy. The things I’ve seen in Niger and Nicaragua are so heartbreaking that it makes me want to do all I can to help.

“What about the homeless in America? Don’t we have enough people to help here?”

That’s a common statement from many people here in the U.S. Honestly, it holds no weight with me when it comes from people who aren’t doing anything about the people in the U.S. that they claim to be so concerned about. Who are they to judge my passion and tell me I should be more concerned about something else?

1403438_jacky_-_our_young_jack_russel_dogYears ago, I remember getting frustrated at a commercial for the SPCA. Dogs? People were concerned about animals when we had people dying in the world! How ridiculous is that? But then I realized, what if no one cared about the animals? What if no one was their advocate?

God gave everyone a heart for something or someone different. If we all cared only about the homeless in America, we’d be in some major trouble.

Who would help those in countries where their own governments won’t help?

Who would look out for the animals and their safety?

Who would work at nursing homes to take care of the elderly?

Who would stand up for our planet and work at keeping it clean and beautiful?

While someone else’s passion might not be the same as yours, it’s important to realize that EVERY passion for humanity, animals and the planet is necessary for our world to survive.

Some people don’t understand my passion for Africa. I don’t know where it comes from, other than it’s the heart God gave me. I look at my friend Kim who works with special ed kids all day long, and I don’t understand her heart. It’s a heart I don’t have. While I hurt for those kids, I don’t have the desire to work with them.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I wish some people would be more sensitive to the different passions we all have. We think the world is falling apart right now, just imagine what it would be like if NO ONE cared about the kids in Africa, the animals, or taking care of our planet.

I don’t have a burning passion for animals or making sure the planet is taken care of, but I’m glad that someone does.