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“This is home’… this was my first thought at touchdown at the Atlanta airport, my thought when my grown daughter greeted me, and my grateful thought when entering my warm, comfortable home group-hugged by a family that loves me. But, this was also a thought I had during the two weeks I traveled with Nancy Hathaway to Ukraine to visit Heart for Orphans Transition Homes.
Many parts of our trip were valuable and memorable. We had the opportunity to travel to Transnistria to learn about a thrift store business that is supporting orphan ministry there. In Kiev we were overjoyed and encouraged to learn that an adoption facilitator that had worked with Nancy and Steve as well as many other Christian families had recently given his life to Christ after many years of people praying for his salvation. In the villages surrounding Kirovograd we saw how Heart for Orphans reaches out to the orphanages teaching children about the love of a heavenly Father through song, story and craft. To us the story of creation is almost overly familiar… but I witnessed spell bound teen age boys (yes, teen age boys) captivated by Andre as he used a flashlight and a globe to show how God made light from darkness, and created the sun and the stars, for the first time. We met with church leaders who have formed teams to minister to orphans alongside our Heart for Orphans leaders and it was so amazing to see Ukrainian churches embrace God’s heart towards the fatherless. The stigma of being an orphan child is slowly, very slowly, being ‘undone’ by believers across Ukraine.
All of this we experienced as we traveled together throughout Ukraine, but when we reached Mel’s and Ruth’s houses… we were ‘home’. The original vision and the mission of Heart for Orphans is to provide a home for children who have never experienced family the way God intended. Parents who care and provide for their families needs, who demonstrate what a Godly marriage looks like, who consider and invest in their children’s futures and who walk out their Christian faith on a daily basis.
If you wonder if your giving matters, I can tell you first hand that it does. I disagree with the current trend in orphan care that we can have a ‘world without orphans’. God has promised that ‘the poor will always be with us’ (Mathew 26:11) and poverty is a huge contributor to the orphan crisis. We will not ‘solve’ the orphan ‘problem’, but we can practice ‘religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless’ by ‘looking after orphans and widows in their distress’ (James 1-27). Some of us will be ‘go-ers’ and some of us will be ‘givers’, but none of us can stand on the sidelines and pretend that we did not hear God say, ‘Do this… this is pure and genuine faith’.
I’ll admit that being a guest of a ‘family’ of 19 plus, is a bit overwhelming… especially when you add in the ‘extended family’ that inevitably returns to see ‘Aunt Nancy’ when she is in town! The excitement of the Transition Home graduates who all want a hug and a moment of time to tell you their most recent news, the non-stop preparation in the kitchen, and the small children and babies of both the house parents and the returning families of those who have been grafted into a ‘family’ that they will always be a part of… it’s sensory overload! And this beautiful chaos… this is home