C.A.R.E. Children at Risk Everywhere. This is becoming more and more evident as one of the priorities KHC cares most about. James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
It didn’t occur to me really that I had never really been around too many orphans until the day we stepped foot in Casa Hogar. This place, this home, this sacred space, is becoming more and more a priority for the Velasquez family. When we walked in, the children who reside there began to come out of their bedrooms, school room, music room to greet them, high five Carlos who they all knew and give hugs to Abuelo (that would be John Velasquez, Sr.). The younger ones were happy to get play with Eden, Sarah, Roman and Sammy. Mando, Myra and the kids spend at least a couple of days a week there hanging out, helping with what ever is needed. They’ve sponsored a little brother and a little sister to invest in and disciple on a deeper level. For $25 a month, anyone can do this and the money goes towards food and living expenses for the kids.
These kids spend each day with a rigourous schedule. They begin each day at 5am with morning devotions, chores, school and music lessons. They are loved and cared for well by the “mom and dad” in the home. At first sight, one thinks they are doing rather well for orphans. They have clean clothes, live in a clean house, have good meals.
But as the days went on and we began to get to know the kids better, a different viewpoint emerged. Like when Neal was playing with one of the little ones, tossing her up in the air. You could see in the eyes of these little boys: This is what it’s like to have a father. A 3 year old and her 2 year old little sister, longing to be held and played with. 13, 14 and 15 year old girls wanting to run around silly and have a good laugh. Although the language was a barrier, they still wanted to be around us and they still wanted to try and communicate. We became and extension of the Velasquez’ ministry that week. An extension of God’s hands, taking them in.
As we were finishing up painting the bedrooms, we were looking for scriptures to paint on the walls. We began to ask the kids which ones they prefered for the walls of their rooms. There was one little boy, 13 years old, who spent much of the time we were there running around and playing. He had run away from the orphanage in January because he wanted to find his grandmother and live with her. But when he showed up at her house, she turned him away. So off he went to find a sister who said she could live with her, but only on the condition that he get a job and pay her his wages. He eventually found his way back to Casa Hogar. When we asked him what scripture he would like on the wall, this playful, fun loving boy responded ever so seriously with Psalm 27:10: “My father and mother have foresaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”
In that moment, I got a glimpse of the deep pain and reality that this boy and possibly all the others live with every day. But I also couldn’t help but to find joy in that his hope is in the right place. He knows and is learning to trust that the LORD has taken him in. I thought about Mando and Myra and Vicki and Octavio (the mom and dad of Casa Hogar) and marveled with total humility at how the Lord uses His people to take in the fatherless.
I’ve been around kids who have been adopted, but never those who are waiting, hoping, dreaming, wondering who may take them in. I can honestly say, this particular aspect of the trip was soul shifting. When I walk into the worship center at church and see those black and white photos of kids waiting to be taken in, it’s different to me today than it would have been last month. We talk a lot about caring for children at risk, about caring for the fatherless, but wow does the game change when you actually spend time with them. Who knows if the Lord has plans for the Lind family to adopt one day, but I do know the Lord may use us again to take one of His in. I want to walk the talk in the midst of God’s will for my family.
What about you? Where in the world will you go? Royal Family Kids Camp? Haiti? Baja? Harambee? Praying at the abortion clinic? The pregnancy help center? There are so many opportunities, the harvest is plenty and the workers are few.
Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Grace and Peace,