Sometimes Life blindsides us—and then we look back and see pieces of the proverbial puzzle that we hadn’t seen before. Ever had that experience?
In my last post I took you on a Pilgrimage to Bethlehem. (Missed that one? This will make more sense if you read it first. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) You experienced an overcrowded city where street children stole from merchants, pushed their way thoughtlessly through groups of people, and accepted supervision from no one.
I called them hungry orphans.
Back in 1998, when I first read the Pilgrimage to Bethlehem script, I’m certain “hungry orphans” never crossed my mind. Instead, the idea of street children stirred thoughts of young transients who brought filth and inconvenience to everyone around them. I was oblivious to big-picture realities!
Almost a decade later—after one of those Life’s blindside experiences—Renaissance Man and I made our first trip to Brazil… and I came face-to-face with trafficked and street children. I looked into their eyes. I learned their names. I heard their stories…
They scavenged for—or stole—food. They slept on the ground, grateful for the occasional piece of cardboard (aka street mattress). They did drugs or sniffed paint because they were available—or because they helped numb the pain of preadolescent prostitution. They were abused, abandoned, and exploited by the very people who should have cared for them.
They were simply trying to survive.
Back when I did Bethlehem, I had no idea 21st century street children would play a prominent role in my life. I didn’t know a puzzle piece was waiting to be set into place. It’s now been over eight years since Renaissance Man became president of Hope Unlimited for Children. I’ve met hundreds of once trafficked and street children. I’ve laughed and played with them. I’ve grieved with them, and dried their tears. I’ve prayed with—and for—them. I’ve rocked their babies. I’ve sung and worshiped with them.
Time after time, I’ve been awed and humbled by their faith as I’ve watched their transformation from hopeless, desperate survivors to Hope-filled, contributing members of society.
So, a few weeks ago, while experiencing Pilgrimage to Bethlehem, I saw the street child—the child thief—as a desperate, hungry orphan. And when he encountered the Baby in the manger and discovered he was loved by God—and always had been—I watched as the hungry orphan had a change of heart, becoming less self-focused and more concerned about others. I saw him share the Love he now knew with people society had cast out.
I saw myself—and remembered my own transformation…
When street children entered my life, I came face-to-face with the Christian woman I will never be again. I saw my own self-centeredness even while “doing good”. I remembered how it felt (amidst warnings from well-meaning friends) to timidly step out of my comfort zone that very first time into a world full of uncertainty and potential danger..
I remembered what I sometimes still tend to forget: that God doesn’t love me any more than He loves the child of the streets—and never has.
The amazing thing is that He wants to use ME to share His love with those children—and others He called “the least of these”. If you’ve experienced His love, He wants to use you, too!
As 2015 draws to a close, it’s not too late to make a difference in the world! At Hope Unlimited for Children we care for over 1000 children every day. I invite you to partner with us! More than just getting the basics (food, clothing, shelter), our kids learn what it means to have a family. They receive an education and learn a skill—so they can break the cycle of poverty for the next generation. They learn that God loves them no matter what they may have done in the past.
The Hope model works!
Those stats don’t “just happen”. They are the result of many people who give prayerfully and consistently… often gifts some would see as small and insignificant. Don’t ever fall into that trap—thinking your gift is too small. At Hope we have to raise 40% of our annual budget in the last quarter of the year, and every.single.gift matters.
If you’ve been around here for very long, you know I seldom ask you to contribute to Hope. But occasionally I do because I know you readers are kind, caring people… and you want your money to be used wisely. Here’s something you’ll like: Every gift you give to Hope is multiplied FOUR times by the time it reaches the children. Pair that with the amazing stats of our graduates, and you’ve just made a super-duper investment!
If that’s the kind of return you like to see, click HERE to make a huge difference today in the life of a child.
The children—and Renaissance Man and I—thank you!