In two days, 12 precious children will arrive from Ukraine and be in Alabama for 4 weeks. A lot of time, money and effort goes into this. My family makes great sacrifices, not just during the few weeks that the children are here, but for months leading up to this day. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes I complain and say I am not sure I can do this again next year.
There is a reason that my friend, Marilyn, two years ago made me this plaque:
If these 12 children were just 12 children, I think I would give up. But they are not. They are 12 children who have been orphaned. And God commands me to care for them. There are many, many ways to do that. But for now, God has given me and those who support Grace to Ukraine, the grace to care for them them in this way.
And as I sit here this morning, looking out over the empty pool in my backyard, knowing that Tuesday it will be full of screaming, laughing, orphaned Ukrainian children, I am overwhelmed by the GOODNESS of God who allows me to do this. Not only do I get the privilege of caring for them in a tangible way: good nutrition, clothing, fun, education; I get the immeasurable honor of sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with these children. For they are also 12 souls who are lost. And they will have the opportunity to hear this Gospel of hope and take it back to their orphanage, their friends, their country.
The preciousness of this gift, as well as the gravity of it, lays heavily on my heart today. As I read through 2 Corinthians this morning, I am encouraged that although I am not sufficient in myself, God provides a greater sufficiency, (3:4); I am empowered by the knowledge that in the hope of the power of the Spirit, I can speak boldly (3:7-18); I am motivated to show mercy and grace because it has been shown to me (4:1-6) and I am strengthened in my tired, hard-pressed, and discouraged body to continue speaking, advocating, and pleading because I KNOW the God who has conquered death. (4:7-5:21).
My Christian brothers and sisters, do not look at the things which are seen; they are temporary. I urge you to look at the things which are unseen; for they are eternal. What does this have to do with your hosting program, you might ask. This: don't think about meals as a way to feed 12 hungry bellies. Don't think about trips to the water park as a waste of money. Don't judge us for focusing our efforts on Ukrainian children and not another ethnicity. Don't come to our home just to have fun and play. I urge you, see each child as a lost soul in need of salvation; see each opportunity as an act of serving up the Gospel in a beautiful, God-glorifying way. See your own obedience in caring for orphans as the true religion that it is and be encouraged, along with me, that our work is not in vain. EVER.
I feel certain I won't blog again until these children have returned to Ukraine. In their country, most of these children are held in low esteem, discriminated against, referred to in a disparaging way as "gypsies". I recently even saw a statistic that said there were no "orphans" in western Ukraine; they all exist in eastern Ukraine. I thought "Ha! Interesting, since I am about to host 12 of those non-existent orphans." Maybe these gypsy children are even overlooked by the statistic-makers. No matter. While in my home, these 12 children shall be treated as royalty. And I, their servant.
If you wish to some alongside us in any way, looking to the eternal rewards that await us, you know how to find me. And you know the God to whom you can pray.