Thursday, October 07, 2010


Your response to the orphan posts have been overwhelming.

When I posted about going to the orphanage, my thoughts were all very raw.  That place wrecked me.  Let's all agree that even the best, well-funded, well run orphanage is still terribly sad.  Can we agree on that?  Seeing children without families is sad.  It's always, always sad.

Because I have spent my life sheltering myself from all things hard and painful, the whole experience was shocking.  To see how the kids were living was hard.  To see how the Haitian couple who cares for the kids was living was hard.

Surrounded by kids I stood there at the orphanage grieving the way I have lived my adult life.  How could I know what God says about the orphan and not have any idea that places like this exist...children just like this exist?  How could I know what God says about the orphan and be so clueless about how they are suffering?

How could the American church be so caught up in all things ridiculous while this sweet, Haitian couple is out here in the middle-of-nowhere-Haiti trying to take care of all these kids by themselves?

I stood there holding clingy children, hungry for touch and attention, and thought, "This is where caring so much about building a climbing wall in the student center, or a coffee bar in the foyer has landed countless children around the world."

God have mercy on us.

I promise I'm not bashing the church.  We served on church staff for a very long time.  It's like making fun of our sister.  We can be irritated with her.  We can hurt for how she's missing the point.  We know that by saying hard things about the American church we're point the finger right at ourselves.  But like that sister, if anyone else outside the family says something about her bucked teeth, I will go all Kung-fu on them.

We love the church.

When two babies get offered to me in three days, and Aaron and I have to make life altering decisions for these babies, it's kind of hard not to want to sit and bawl our eyes out that at that same moment, an American church staff is probably having a staff meeting and the biggest decision on the agenda is whether or not to buy chicken breasts from Sams or Wal-Mart for the back to school bash.

God have mercy.

So I came home from the orphanage.  It took days and days to process what I'd seen.  When the words finally started to break through the cloud of despair, I sat down and wrote the post about the orphanage.

I never thought past the post.  I probably should have.  In my former life I would have.  In this new life, all I can do is apologize for not thinking past those words and foreseeing the response.

I wrote the post hoping that people's hearts would be broken for these kids and the thousands and thousands and thousands of children just like them who are unseen and need love, families, stability and a voice.

I wasn't expecting so many of you to respond and say you wanted to help these particular kids.

Like I said...I should have expected it.  I just didn't.  Not because I think no one would care.  Now that I think about it, duh.  You'd  have to be dead to not be moved by these children.

I just didn't think.  That's all.

I wrote about what we saw and pushed publish.

So now what we're left with is so many of you who are hurting for these kids and wanting to help.

You've looked up tickets to Haiti on the internet.

You've left comments and flooded...literally flooded my inbox.

"How do we help?"  "What do we do?"

The truth is...we don't know.

I didn't write the post because I knew what to do.  I wrote because this is the reality for lots and lots of children around the world.  It's the reality for these kids.  I wrote because I didn't want to experience this alone.  I wanted you to have to hurt with us. I don't know what to do about this reality, but thankfully God didn't say I had to know.  He said this is the church's job.  It's our job.  Yours and mine.  Together.

When I published the post, I had no idea that we'd be thrown in, feet first into trying to help you help them.

We want to help these kids.  We definitely want to help this baby girl.

But that doesn't mean we know how to do that.  We're working on trying to figure out how.  In Haiti, everything takes a lot longer than it does in the US.  This orphanage is far away from us.  We're already involved neck high in ministries here in Haiti.  On top of that, we don't even know enough about international adoption or how a super healthy orphanage should function.  We're not even sure super healthy orphanages truly exist.  We wish orphanages didn't have to exist at all.  In a perfect world they wouldn't.  But if they have to exist, what should they look like?  What should be important?  What is best for the kids?  What gives them the best chance of being able to grow up healthy and know how to relate rightly with their adoptive parents and siblings?  We have absolutely no idea. We only know enough to know that these are really, really big deals.

We want you to be able to help these kids.  We as a couple want to help these kids and help lighten the load for the Haitian couple and the American couple working to improve things at the orphanage.

But the truth is...we don't have any answers yet.

We came to Haiti to connect you with responsible, gospel centered, sustainable ministries in Haiti.  Many of you have read this blog for years.  Many of you are supporting us financially.  You've said, "We want to help the orphan.  We want to care for the poor."  "We just don't know where to send the money or where to offer our skills."  So you sent us...our family here to find answers to those questions.

We came to Haiti to be a bridge between ministries in Haiti doing incredible work for the kingdom and you in America.  There are amazing ministries in this country doing amazing work.  Many of you who are supporting us financially and who have read this blog for years and years have trusted us to identify ministries that meet that criteria so you can know how to respond to the needs in Haiti.  So far, Aaron has written about a few of those ministries on the Mosaic Village blog.  We've had time to study those see them in hear the hearts of the people running them.  In full faith we can say...."Send those places your money.  Volunteer there.  Send supplies.  This is so important, you should rearrange your life back home to support these ministries."

Before we'd ever tell you guys to start sending money or supplies or coming to help the orphanage I wrote about, we feel some sort of responsibility to make sure there is an open door at this orphanage for us to help these couples and these kids. We need to make sure they want and/or need our help.

Most importantly, we'd want to make sure that if we're asking you to send aid in any form to these kids that everything is on the up and up.  We'd want to know how to help in a way that is actually helping these kids and helping Haiti.  If we're going to be responsible for pointing you to ministries in Haiti, we'd like to know that these ministries are gospel centered and that there is a healthy foundation.  That's what Mosaic Village is all about.  That's why we're here.

Specifically, if we were asking you to support an orphanage, we'd like to know that the people running it are well educated in adoption issues, that the children are learning to bond, that there is a very high ratio of adults to children, and that all adoptions are done legally so as not to add to the corruption in this country that is oppressing the people of Haiti.

Let me be super clear, because I don't want any misunderstanding.  We have no reason to believe that the work going on at this particular orphanage isn't 100% healthy.  So far, everything we know about what's going on out there seems great.  The honest truth is, we have not had an opportunity to find out enough about what is going on out there or to fully hear the hearts of the people working hard to get things moving in the right direction.  We haven't had time to sit down and ask a lot of questions.  A lot of the questions YOU want us to ask ministries in Haiti.  Hard questions you are trusting us to ask.

We're hoping to do that soon.  Although it's far away, we're hoping to spend more time out at the orphanage learning about the ministry taking place there.

But until we do those things, we can't (in good faith) start asking people to respond to the physical needs of these kids.  For now, we rest in knowing that people in the US and people on the ground here in Haiti are working hard on behalf of these kids.  Sweet people who love these children are helping.  The Haitian couple who are caring for these kids want the very best for them.  Like I said, resources are simply limited for now.

We'd like to help as a family.  Until we have some questions answered and can say to all of you with total integrity that we've studied this ministry and know it's something to get behind with funding, we can't ask you to send money.  We can't be responsible for that.

In the mean time we hope you will continue to pray for these specific kids, this specific orphanage, and the precious couples serving these children in Haiti. 

Most importantly, I pray we will go to God and ask Him to break our heart for the orphan. I pray we become educated about the plight of the fatherless.  I pray we consider adoption...and my word, not the glamorous, make believe picture of adoption.  To adopt a kid out of most orphanages in Haiti you are signing up for a long, hard process.  The child you bring home will probably be damaged and hurt beyond belief.  Adoption is beautiful, but adoption always means pain and loss.  At its root level, adoption is messy, complicated, and hard.  I promise I'm not trying to talk you out of adoption.  I swear, I'm trying to talk you into it.  So many of you are hurting over these children and may be considering adoption for the first time.  I pray love always wins, but that we won't be naive or uneducated about adoption issues.

I hope we all remember that we don't adopt because our hearts are stirred by some pictures on the internet.  We adopt because our hearts have been stirred by the gospel.  We adopt because Christ invites us to play a part in redeeming all things on this earth.  He enables us to extend love, forgiveness, and grace to children who have been hurt, abused, and neglected.    Sometimes that's not easy, and it doesn't come natural.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work, a lot of repentance, and a lot of forgiveness. We adopt because God loves adoption, and He says to care for the orphan.  He says children are a blessing.  He says to imitate Him, and thankfully He's adopted a whole heck of a lot of children.  We adopt because we have been adopted in spite of all our dysfunction, our rebellion, our anger, and our insecurity.  We've been shown grace and mercy, and so we extend grace and mercy.       

I pray we ask the Lord what it looks like for each of us...each family...each church to love and care for the orphan in distress.  Regardless of how hard it can be, when we care for the orphan, God is inviting us to come face to face with the gospel.  He's inviting us to hold it in our laps.  Is there any greater gift?

We'll keep you posted, okay.

Until then, let's seek the Lord.  Let's find ways to defend the fatherless, to care for the orphan, and to be a voice for the voiceless.

Let's be honest.  Let's face the truth.  Countless children are sitting in orphanages.  Many of them need better care.  They all need families.  God has commanded His people to respond.


Elizabeth said...

Thank you for your honest posts. Having been in Haiti this summer for just a short time, the word "raw" is the only way to describe the feelings brought forth by any time there. I am continuing to pray and process what our role must be there. In the meantime, I wonder if you know of the organization Global Orphan Project. I feel good about the way they go about building orphanages and related schools, churches and micro-businesses in Haitian communities, each led by a Haitian pastor. It is possible they could help the orphanage you have visited.

Bob & Judy said...

A comment to the readers -

Imagine that you have been plopped down in a country so broken that it can't even find a way to tear down 1000s of earthquake damaged buildings, much less rebuild them.

With at least half a million (HALF A MILLION) parent-less children in a physical area that is smaller than Maryland.

Two hours from the richest country in the world, but the poorest of the poor.

With only a small smattering of infrastructure like streets and water and electricity.

Where what passes for medical care would make most Americans cry.

Where hundreds of thousands of people are living in tents outside your door. YOUR door.

Where the idea that government could solve the problem is just laughable. Nobody expects the government to help. Nobody.

Now - there you are. In your decent house with plenty of food, trying to help your family adjust to this place where you've been for less than 2 months.

Trying to keep their lives happy and as healthy as possible, in the midst of the hurt and pain and joy and beauty around you.

Would YOU have the answers to fix even a small corner of this place?

No, you would not.

We forget, you know.

Because Heather and Aaron are brilliant and eloquent, deeply in love with Jesus, strong and passionate, we forget.

We forget that they are so new in this place, in this life. That they are facing jaw-dropping challenges. Challenges that groups of the greatest minds in the world have just GIVEN UP trying to solve.

We seem to think that it is wonderful for Heather and Aaron to show us a problem, but only if they can tell us how to solve it.

And they have to find a way to tell us about problems without hurting the hearts of people who have been serving, fighting, addressing these problems for years because they too are deeply in love with Jesus and strong and passionate.

Heather, my girl, you keep right on telling us!

We will grieve and rejoice with you.

We will give when we can find a way that helps.

We will pray.

We will listen to what God says to us. And we will expect Him to have answers. Even if the answers sound like this:

"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." Deut 15:11

Stephanie said...

God doesn't call us all to the same ministries in the same ways at the same times ... as much as our hearts might ache for others in needs (as it should). God calls us all in different ways ... but I do know He says that if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts .... In the meantime, I am so thankful to have found your blog. It has opened my eyes more, deepened my passions more ... motivated me more to teach my children better what serving a Living Savior means ... and challenged me to embrace a living faith and not a dead one (James). May God continue to prick my heart until I find ways to live out a living faith for those in need like the orphans in Haiti but also those on my street, in my community, in my church ... thank you.

The Kramer Family said...

I love me some Mrs. Judy. Deeply.

Her words are beautiful and filled with truth.

Keep posting and we will keep hurting and praying with and for you guys. No one has the answers but the Lord and it can only explained through the way He sees us. We are broken, fallen, and desperate people apart from His saving grace and mercy.

Love you!

Adriana said...

I feel compelled to write and tell you how much your blog has blessed me and filled me with HOPE that there are others Christians in our priviledged country who GET IT. THANK YOU for your sacrifice. Thank you for being raw. Thank you for being a light in the darkeness of apathy. I am praying fervently for your family and the orphanage, and for that tiny baby's tears. Oh Jesus, wipe them away.

shawnaturtle said...

Even though this article

isn't specifically Christian I found it to be an accurate summary of all that hampers Americans. Many of the points made reminded me of what you have said in your blog. It speaks to the denial of what is real. I wanted you to know that the humanitarian work you and others are doing around the world makes my heart less heavy.

Nicole said...

I am so thankful for your blog and for your family and the experience you are going through, because my eyes have been opened. I feel like there's no turning back now that I've been told what you've shared with us and I know that's a good thing--it's just hard. Thank you for what you're doing in Haiti. You're an inspiration and a blessing. When you do find out how we can help these children I am on board. My heart breaks for them.