Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 10th annual Christian Alliance For Orphans conference. The Hands and Feet Project sent me to Chicago along with 4 other Hands and Feet ladies and one husband-to keep us all straight! I enjoyed the fellowship with the ladies of Hands and Feet as much as I did the conference.
It was a great delight to room with Jennifer Moore. We will be working alongside her and her family in Haiti. Jen and I stayed up way too late talking about just about everything under the sun.
The conference had almost 3,000 in attendance and 35 different countries were represented. There were amazing testimonies shared by orphans who have been saved by Jesus Christ, adopted into families, and are successful adults with ministries of their own- now dedicated to helping the fatherless. Many times I was moved to tears with such amazing stories of hardship and redemption. Truly the fatherless is cared for by our Father in heaven.
I attended a break out session and learned of how caring for the orphan in other countries racked by poverty and hardship is being preached and how the church is reacting by stepping up to take care of their children. In countries such as China, Ethopia, and Uganda believers are struggling so hard to feed their own family members, but I heard several speakers tell how the Gospel of Adoption is being preached in the local church.
The Gospel - the Good News - that we were once orphans unclaimed, dead in our sin, hopeless, yet Christ loved us, died for us, claimed us, saved us and brought us into His family. This Good News, this adoption story is motivating believers around the globe to surrender to caring for orphans.
The Church in China, Ethopia, Uganda, and many other countries is accepting the call in James 1:27 and children are being adopted into families and being loved with Christ's love. What a beautiful privilegde it was for me to learn of the work the Lord is doing around the globe.
I attended a few classes that dealt with child psychology and caring for children with trauma and abuse. I saw pictures of brains, learned big words, learned all about brain development, hormones, and the damage that can be done in the womb before the baby even enters this world. Wow! I learned how incredibly important it is for a baby to enter this world with loving parents that take the time to meet her every need from the moment her life begins.
I was encouraged by these classes in my own parenting and reminded just how much I missed my four blessings as I was far away in Chicago! I promise you it was a sweet reunion at the airport when I returned! And I must say that Laramie took very good care of them while I was away. (Thank You to Mr. Bruce and Mrs. BJ for stopping by to have lunch with the kids each day, they had a blast and hail Mr. Bruce as the champion badmitten player!)
The child psychology classes stated again and again the necessity to meet the needs of children. The speaker said neglect can even be found in areas where parents let their baby 'cry it out'. Meeting the needs of a crying baby gives the child a voice and builds trust. In fact, neglect was listed as just as damaging to a child as physical abuse. Older children with neglect and abuse in their past can show healing when their new caregiver thinks of them in terms of a newborn and responds likewise by offering food, warmth, and a calm voice.
Seems so simple, but so profound. While the thought of neglect and abuse to a child is tragic, sad, and a cause of brain damage, it was exciting to find out that this damage is not permanent when LOVE enters onto the scene. You see, the speakers that taught these classes are doctors with lots of letters behind their names, but more importantly they are Christians. They believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ and know that His love covers a multitude of sins.
I wish you could have heard some of the stories too. You would have cried with me and felt confident at the end of the conference that God is in the business of making beauty from ashes.
My last session was taught by the Christian singer, Sarah Groves. She emphasized how art, story telling, and music is a great way for orphans to tell their stories to the world. She noted that there is very little artwork depicting the life of an orphan due to the sadness it brings. She wanted so badly to bring awareness to the dire need for orphan care around the world.
She searched herself and thought that getting a law degree would be a good path to be of help. However, when she shared this new goal with those involved in orphan care ministry they shut her new idea down! To her amazement they told her... WRITE SONGS! Yes, write songs about orphans! Song writing is what God has gifted her to do, so this was a great fit. In fact she made an entire album! Her desire is for orphans to be able to produce art that tells their story. Beauty. From ashes.
I wanted to share these things with you, I came home with a swimmy head filled with the new things I learned. I was encouraged to be a part of 3,000 people who all have a heart for caring for the fatherless, taking the Bible literal, setting aside their own personal needs, and taking up the cause of helping the weak. Praise God that His Christian soldiers are marching onward!
By His grace we will accept His call, surrender it all, and care for the orphans of Haiti.