I returned from Haiti four days ago. I’d made the journey to GVCM Orphanage with a list of children tucked in my backpack. Out of over 100 children who live there, these are the kids with known stories of abuse and trauma in their pasts and/or special needs of some kind. My primary goal during my five days there was to spend one-on-one time with each of these children, daily pouring into them love, support, encouragement, prayer, and the individual attention they desperately need. Though my heart was all-in, my confidence was wavering. Language barriers, cultural differences and lack of detailed background information left me feeling as though I’d fail to make a difference in the lives of these children. Still, not knowing how God could use someone like me, I followed His lead.
The other goal of the trip was to take time, while inside the walls of the orphanage, to continuously pray for guidance, protection, and restoration; over the kids, over the buildings, over the staff, and over my own life…a life that, in earlier years, reflected a similar pain to what some of these children were currently living with. No matter how far away from home I traveled, or how many years had gone by, the aftermath of my own past weighed heavily on my soul; a weight I had almost given up hope of ever being released from.
As I spent time sitting on the concrete steps of the orphanage each morning, with my Bible in my lap and my heart searching for answers, God didn’t speak in grand gestures…but rather through gentle whispers held within His Word; held within the seemingly mundane moments between myself and these children He’d called me to serve. An indescribable change began to take place in me. My fear-based, survival mode mentality was slowly replaced with the confidence to step into the calling on my life. I finally began to truly experience the freedom given to me through Jesus, and was able to see how God had planned, all along, to use the terror of my past to minister to generations of the future. Faith in the midst of suffering was now producing the endurance to run the race set out before me. What I’d always thought of as my shortcomings, were transformed into skills enabling me to begin to reach these children’s hearts and move into relationships with them that will undoubtedly transform my life, and (I pray) theirs as well. The darkness of my past, through His grace, is being used to shed light on His plans to redeem and restore. The very thought that I could be used as vessel for this message of love left me humbled and in tears time and time again.
By the time I returned home, I knew the tasks set before me:
- To go through training to become a competent caregiver to the children in the orphanage who’ve experienced abuse and trauma.
- To continue to learn as much as I can about the special needs community, both from others and through experiences in my own family circle.
- To visit the orphanage on a regular basis, both to continue to build relationships while offering support to this group of children, and to provide some stability in their lives.
- To work with the orphanage to recruit and train a group of caregivers on site that can carry and pass on the skills and knowledge to create a change in how these young survivors relate to the world; to be used as one of God’s tools in the healing process of these children’s hearts and minds.
- Awareness. To simply spread awareness of the need, both far and near, for compassion, understanding, and support of those struggling through recovery from trauma or lack of special needs resources.
I have had moments of intense doubt in my ability to take part in accomplishing any of these things. Then, I remember that I can’t…not apart from Christ. His strength and passionate love for His creation will fuel any ability or talent I may find myself developing. I can press forward and set big goals, because I serve a big God. Nothing is too difficult for Him and, when I look at all that He’s brought me through, I can walk with confidence through the journey He’s about to lead me into.
There may be many opinions given; many reasons thrown at me to stop here and say I’ve done enough…Suggestions that I leave the hands-on work to those who do not have families of their own at home. I’m preparing myself for that challenge. Right now, all I know is that God didn’t leave me where He found me. He didn’t look at the mess that I was in and walk away. He fought for me. It’s because of His example that I won’t accept giving up the fight for these children. I want to leave a legacy for my own children of love and dedication; of faith and compassion. This journey is just one of the many opportunities that I have to make that happen. For that, I am thankful.