Written by: Rebekah Read
Jesus Christ uses flawed human beings. That's me. I qualify. He uses those who are highly unprepared. Also qualify; also me. But more importantly, He uses willing hearts.
When I said yes to the calling to go to Honduras, I really had no idea what that entailed. However, I did not imagine for a second that I would be thrown into motherhood or advocating for children who couldn't advocate for themselves.
Jesus put a calling on my heart at the beginning of 2014. He told me that it was going to be a year of “breaking my heart to make it more like his Son's.” Although this isn't the most pleasant calling, I submitted with a willing heart, and I'm so glad I did.
Between the years of 2014-2016, my heart was absolutely broken multiple times as I witnessed the injustices of an impoverished country. I saw a precious baby boy abandoned at the hospital because he was HIV positive, special needs children kicked out of their care home because the government couldn't fund it anymore, babies thrown in trash cans just to get rid of them, and several children whose families won't fit them, yet can't be declared “abandoned” and, therefore, are not adoptable.
In all of these situations, there was nothing I could do. I had to give it over to the Lord. I had to declare His goodness on their lives and remind them that they DO have a home. In Christ, they are not abandoned; they are loved deeply and a child of the most adoring Father.
I had the privilege of partnering with the Lord in the calling to care for some of His most beloved children through Reach Out Orphanage Ministries. The quote, “He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called,” has rung in my ears throughout the past 5 months in which I have been here. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I have had the privilege of caring for many wonderful children in a transition home as we waited to find their perfect foster family. Some kids spent the night and some were there for many months, but they all left a huge imprint on my heart and life.
Two little boys completely stole my heart and taught me so much. I wasn’t qualified to raise infants or care for a child with cancer, but God showed me unfathomable grace and how to love fatherless children with all I have, unceasingly, and without barriers. To stay that this is not an easy task would be a vast understatement, but it is a blessing nonetheless.
A three-year-old boy named Anthony came into our transition home two weeks after I had arrived in Honduras. We knew that in coming from a public orphanage he would have lice and parasites, however, none of us were prepared to hear the shocking news that came at his checkup. Anthony was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The first week of his stay in our care was spent in the hospital. The missionary mom, with whom I lived, and I alternated nights staying with Anthony in the public hospital. We held his hand, cried with him, and poured out all the love we had into this sweet little boy. Two months later he left our care to go to a family in the U.S. who would see that his medical treatment continued and who anticipated, in time, adopting him.
We were filled with hope at this boy’s future, and at the same time, filled with fear that the temporary medical visa wouldn’t turn into an adoption and he would have to go through loss again. We were joyful that a family would be able to pour all they had into him, yet grieved that we no longer could. This little boy, who had grown very attached to the missionary mom and me, cried whenever we left him. On this day, though, he left our home in his new daddy’s arms without a tear in his eye. The peace we had prayed would cover him was provided by God’s hand. This was some of the most real pain I have ever experienced. Having a little boy - into whom I had poured so much of myself and whose smile had lit up my heart - taken from my care was extremely difficult, but I rested that night in the knowledge that our good Lord would provide him with comfort. To see the peace Anthony had when we parted was what we needed to be assured that he was ultimately in the Lord’s care rather than ours or his new family’s.
The same day we brought Anthony home from the public orphanage, Judah was placed in my arms at just 11 days old. I quickly became his mother figure, waking up multiple times every night for his feedings, figuring out what made him stop crying, and growing more and more attached to him. Near Thanksgiving 2014, he started to get really sick. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him until he was in an almost coma-like state with a huge belly and vomiting yellow-green liquid. We rushed him into the hospital at 10 p.m. and at midnight, he underwent an emergency surgery to untwist his intestines and drain the backup. Judah and I spent three nights in the hospital together. Over time, his smile returned and eventually he was back to his laughing self.
I wasn’t qualified to be there. I had no experience being a mother; I didn’t know any medical terms in Spanish, and I wasn’t used to this little sleep. Yet I knew how to hold this tiny child, I knew how to make him happy, and more importantly, I knew how to love him because of experiencing the love God has shown me. After four months of caring for Judah, he went to his new foster family who ended up adopting him. This is what I had prayed over this sweet boy day after day, that God would set the lonely in families. To see it come to fruition was so beautiful, yet the pain of losing a boy who had become my son was so real. Foster care is not an easy task.
Pouring everything you have into someone just to see them leave your care is hard. In reality, standing in the gap is heart wrenching. Yet, someone once said, we embrace the heartache of letting them go if it means they knew the feeling of being held onto. Katie Davis wrote in her book Kisses From Katie, “I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person… And if one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for…So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because that is my call as a Christian.”
I, too, cannot change the world, but if Christ can work through me to change one little boy’s world, all the fundraising, sleep-deprived nights, and the ache in my heart as I let him go, are worth it. I feel that I have been called to this task. In that season, it was dedicating my days and nights to serving abandoned children in Honduras. Now, it looks like donating 10% of my business’s proceeds to R.O.O.M., and in the future, it will probably look like foster care and adoption again. My heart will be broken many more times, I expect, and mended just as many more times by my loving Father.
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