Friday, November 25, 2016

A Long Overdue Thank You ... to You!


“I don’t even like Jesus!” Yana (not her real name) said defiantly as we stood facing each other outside the church doors. Her green eyes bore into mine and her arms folded angrily across her chest. I understood her frustration and her hurt. Torn from her family at the age of six, she had spent the last five years of her life in an orphanage without the love of a mother and a father. She felt helpless and angry. Why should she believe in God when it seemed no one cared for her?

“I know why you don’t like Jesus,” I said quietly. Her face registered an expression of surprise as I explained. “You don’t like Jesus because you don’t know Him, but…” I continued, “Once you get to know Jesus, you will love Him.”

We first met Yana nearly four years ago when our family hosted her and her three siblings. Since returning to their country, we have maintained a friendship with them through social media and the numerous care packages shipped across the Atlantic. It has been our constant prayer that we can share Jesus with Yana and her siblings.

This summer, we found ourselves in the worst financial situation our family has ever faced. Yet, it was while we were at our financial lowest that the prayer we had been praying for the last three-and-a-half years was answered. The doors that had blocked us from hosting Yana for so many years flung open. We didn’t understand why God would choose to bring Yana here at the very moment when we could least afford to host her.

We took our financial concerns to God and He began to provide. Donations trickled in, but they were not enough. Discouraged, we began to question God’s leading. This was especially true the night we arrived at the payment deadline with $2000 still lacking. Doubts and uncertainties pummeled us. Were we really following His will? Had we rushed on ahead without Him?

The next morning I called the Hosting Agency to explain our situation. The woman who answered my call promised to speak with the agency’s president and get back to me. Several anxious hours ticked by as I taught my class and prayed and tried not to worry. I submitted myself to God’s will for this situation, for us, and for Yana. And I waited.

Finally, the phone rang and I jumped to answer it. The woman on the other end asked, “Margie, have you noticed that over $500 has been donated just this morning?” My heart skipped a beat. I had not noticed. “Let’s wait to see what God does in the next 24-hours,” she said. I hung up the phone in awe. Could it be that God might still be working out a miracle, even after the payment deadline had passed?

Throughout the remaining hours of that day and on through the night a flood of donations in various amounts - $10, $35, $40, $100 – poured in. Adoptive families from across the country, most of whom we’d never even met, heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that an orphan needed to be hosted. The following day, the hosting agency’s treasurer sent me a text that read, “I am pleased to tell you that your account is fully funded.” Overwhelmed, I collapsed into the nearest chair and cried.

We had tried so hard to raise the money by ourselves. We had scrimped and denied ourselves everything not necessary for survival ... and then some. We had sold donated items at the local Flea Market. We held a giveaway. And we had failed. But God hadn’t.

God showed us that caring for the orphan is not just our private project, it is His divine will. He commands that His people care for the fatherless. For some families that means adoption. For others it is fostering or hosting. Others can help sponsor an entire orphanage. And still others are blessed with the ability to donate time or money to help those doing the hands-on work. Most importantly, everyone can pray! God identifies Himself so closely with orphans that He calls Himself their Father. Psalm 68:5. A good father cares for his children. And God places as many of His children as He can into willing families. “God setteth the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6.

Yana arrived at the end of July and stayed through to the end of August. At only eleven years of age, it was difficult for her to be separated from her older sister, who is like a mother to her, and stay with our family that is unable speak her native language. But Yana understood hugs and sought the comfort of our arms daily. As she warmed up, we discovered she had a good understanding of the English language. We also found out she wanted nothing to do with God. In her broken English she told us, “God is nothing for me.”

Yana accompanied us to church and sat respectfully through our times of family worship. However, she refused to kneel when we prayed and we did not force her. But, every time an opportunity arose to share God’s love, we grabbed it. Whenever she cried, we hugged her and told her how much God loved her. We explained the beautiful power in prayer and promised that God would hear her whenever she called to Him. Her only response was to either stare at us as though she understood nothing or to laugh in a hard and cynical manner. “God, please make Yourself real to Yana,” we prayed again and again.

Because we have had many children from different backgrounds come through our home, each day provides its own unique challenges. On one of the days during Yana’s visit, an older child in our home became quite angry over a rule we had and stormed away. She was gone for several hours and refused to respond to our phone calls or text messages. Concerned, Shawn and I prayed silently for her return.

That evening as Yana and I cut potatoes together in the kitchen, our wayward child returned. I subconsciously breathed a sigh of relief and offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving. But, Yana, who had observed everything, was curious. “Did you pray for her?” she asked quietly. “Yes, I did.” I answered. Yana nodded.

That night during our family devotion time, Shawn and I held back tears as we noticed Yana kneeling to pray with us for the first time. The following morning she gave us a list of prayer requests. Now that she had seen God answer prayer with her own eyes, the burdens of her young heart overflowed.

Yana has returned to her home country. We currently have no plans to adopt her, but are so thankful for the opportunity we had in bringing her into our home to share the love of God with her in a very real way. We will remain in contact with her and her siblings for as long as God allows.

Thank you for being a part of our journey, for praying for us and for the children we bring into our home. So many of you went out of your way to make Yana feel welcome here and we are grateful for that. You have shown the love of Christ in a tangible way to a child starving for genuine affection. For those who donated funds or food or clothing, we can’t even begin to express to you the depths of our gratitude. Through you, we have been blessed to witness the body of Christ in action and through your kindness have glimpsed a piece of Heaven on earth. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!